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Greek Street – by Jon Wilks

Last updated on June 21, 2021

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Today is release day for my new single, “Greek Street”, backed by the guitar instrumental, “Scatterbrain”. I recorded this with my friends Lukas Drinkwater and Jon Nice shortly after we worked with Katherine Priddy on our Nick Drake project at the beginning of lockdown. These two tracks sat on my computer hard drive for over a year, waiting for me to work out what to do with them. In the end, I thought I’d put them out there and see what they get up to.

“Greek Street” is all about nostalgia. In the mid-90s, I spent quite a bit of time on that Soho thoroughfare, hanging out with people that meant the world to me at the time, though I haven’t seen them now in decades. The song remembers, with poetic license, a particular year when I was 19, and a particular relationship that shot by in the blink of an eye, but seemed to be the be-all and end-all at the time. We’ve all had them, I’m sure.

It’s a pleasant coincidence that Greek Street was also home to many of the 1960s folk clubs, such as Les Cousins, 25 years before I was there. I think this song has an undeniable Bert Jansch influence (as does the b-side), so the two decades definitely collide here. (While Martin Carthy, Nic Jones and Martin Simpson are probably my biggest influences in terms of arranging traditional music, Bert Jansch was the first fingerpicker I heard that made me want to put down my electric guitar and focus entirely on improving my acoustic skills. He’s kind of where it starts, for me.)

“Scatterbrain” was a demo that I couldn’t find words to. I asked Lukas to play double bass on it, thinking I’d get to the lyrics later. As soon as I heard the playback, though, I knew it sat perfectly alongside “Greek Street” as a kind of Jansch-esque tribute. For a while afterwards I wondered if we might make an album out of these tracks, but – alas – work took over and I think that idea may have been a bit too much to handle. Maybe in the future. Maybe once I’ve retired.

You can hear/download “Greek Street” by clicking this link. I hope you enjoy it.

Lyrics to Greek Street, by Jon Wilks

It’s of a Soho morning
In shades of dirty grey
At 6am I stumbled
Once more into the day
The street’s in need of hosing down
To wash away the gloom
And I was 19 years of age 
The time has gone so soon

‘Twas there I spied a maiden
With glitter in her hair
And it fell in shards of crimson
And it lit the morning air
She’s teetered on her platform heels
And scaffolded my mind
Me, without a hard-hat on
Just begging to be fined

And I would recommend
(And I’d write it in a song)
A night that ends on Greek Street
With the rising of the sun
To anybody young

She took her name from winter
No robin went without
And she fluttered on the petrol breeze
As neon picked her out
The soul of Cambridge Circus
A phoenix from the frost
Before I knew what had begun
I had already lost

So we took a bus to Lewisham
Where her mother had a place
And against the kitchen sideboard
Well, I kissed her on the face
And on a Swedish packing bed
I kissed her naked breast
And it wasn’t ’til the midnight moon
We stopped to take a rest

And I would recommend
(And I’d write it in a song)
A night that ends on Greek Street
With the rising of the sun
To anybody young

It’s strange what I remember
It’s strange what I recall 
I don’t remember conversations
I don’t remember words at all
I remember trips to Brighton
Wrapped warm against the cold
I remember thinking time had stopped 
And we weren’t growing old

And that’s the wonder of the transient
A sense of life alive
It’s the magic of the twilight sky
And fingers intertwined
And fingers then unravelled 
There’s distance in the sheets
There’s distance in the way she gazed
Way back on down the street

And I would recommend
(And I’d write it in a song)
A night that ends on Greek Street
With the rising of the sun
To anybody young

So we lingered in the summer months
My winter maid and me
And in the Soho evenings
I loved her tenderly
And by the time the autumn came
Her eye began to roam 
And I wandered back to Lewisham
All longing and alone

So she took her Swedish packing bed
For some other blade to game
And I tried my best to blame her
But the blame it never came
For she was but 18 years of age
And barely in her bloom
That one sweet misty morning
On old Greek Street in the gloom

And I would recommend
(And I’d write it in a song)
A night that ends on Greek Street
With the rising of the sun
To anybody young


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