Recently I’ve been enjoying a lot of older albums: music I loved as a much younger man. It caused me to fall in love all over again with the compositions of English singer / guitarist / songwriter Ralph McTell.
If McTell is well known on this side of the Atlantic for anything, it would be his early ballad “The Streets of London.” Yet his compositions are many, varied, and beautiful. Here’s one from the first of his records to become available in the United States:
How do you expect me to feel now you tell me I've arrived,
And here I am but I tremble when I stand,
For I feel I'm on the outside.
Where did it go wrong?
Won't you point it out? Please show.
I know you well meaning brought me here, so you must know.
I know every stranger here and the love they lend.
But now that's gone and still the need for it goes on.
Oh how I need a good friend.
I should have known that in the end,
I'd have to answer to myself.
And though you well meaning brought me here, now you cannot help.
And I never meant to come this far,
And I never thought I'd lose my way.
And now I know who "they" are,
But I still get hurt by the things they say.
This place has no kings, only courtiers live here.
Fine words, fine clothes, fine promises, but they live in fear.
I am tired, but I cannot rest beneath this roof.
If here I lie it would be easier to try,
But where could I tell the truth?
Please don't look so strangely now,
As if I failed some kind of test.
I know you well meaning brought me here, and I've done my best.
Two weeks remain to the Advent season. Use them well.