"Dirty Water" as written by and Francis/young Rossi....
I'm gonna tell you a story
I'm gonna tell you about my town
I'm gonna tell you a big fat story, baby
Aw, it's all about my town

Yeah, down by the river
Down by the banks of the river Charles
(Aw, that's what's happenin' baby)
That's where you'll find me
Along with lovers, muggers, and thieves
(Aw, but they're cool people)

Well I love that dirty water
Oh, Boston, you're my home
(Oh, you're the number one place)

Frustrated women (I mean they're frustrated)
Have to be in by twelve o'clock (oh, that's a shame)
But I'm wishin' and a-hopin', oh
That just once those doors weren't locked
(I like to save time for my baby to walk around)

Well I love that dirty water
Oh, Boston, you're my home (oh, yeah)

Because I love that dirty water
Oh, Boston, you're my home (oh, yeah)

Well, I love that dirty water (I love it, baby)
I love that dirty water (I love Boston)
I love that dirty water (Have you heard about the strangler?)
I love that dirty water (I'm the man, I'm the man)
I love that dirty water (Ow)
I love that dirty water (Come on, come on)

Lyrics submitted by knuckball7

"Dirty Water" as written by E. Cobb


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Dirty Water song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentMeaning is easy to figure.

    Trivia: The Standells were a Los Angeles, California based band and this song was written by their producer Ed Cobb. (I'm guessing that Ed may have lived in Boston at one point in his life). And it's "Lovers, muggers, and thieves"
    New Moonon July 05, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentActually Ed visited Boston and got mugged by the Charles.
    BoomSwaggeron July 05, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThough there is a mention of the Boston Strangler near the end of the song, I don't think the rest of the song is about him.
    JohnnyLurgon March 03, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt's always amused me to no end that Bostonians look at this as a paean to their city. I suppose there's a history of places and people adopting songs critical of them — a la "Yankee Doodle" — as their own. But, it still strikes me as ridiculously ignorant. This song is written in pure irony. The composer of the song — the Standells' producer Ed Cobb — after he was mugged in Boston.

    This song is NOT about the Boston Strangler (although the Stones' Midnight Rambler is); he's just one of the many negative references to Boston that's thrown in there. This song is NOT an "anthem of pride" for the city of Boston. Neither Cobb nor any of the Standells was from Boston, nor even had any real connection to the city. That should be the first hint right there that the song is tongue-in-cheek.

    The song is irony, folks. It's talking about what a shithole Boston was at the time the song was written. The harbor was polluted, it was rife with crime, it wasn't even safe for college girls to be out past midnight. And, the ultimate jab in the eye at Boston was that the narrator of the song — which is NOT to be confused with the author of the song, as this song is clearly written where the singer is voicing a character — takes misguided pride in all his city's problems.

    It reminds me of how republicans and redneck conservatives latched onto Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" when it was released as if it were an anthem of patriotic pride. Don't these people ever listen to the lyrics? "Born in the USA" was a song about the American Dream being completely derailed and what a mess the US was in in the '80s. All of the tobacco-chewing yahoos with "love it or leave it" bumper stickers who blasted this song out of their 4X4 trucks completely missed the point.

    Likewise, all the Red Sox and Patriots fans who sing along to this song at games and bars are oblivious to the fact that the meaning of the song is swiftly whooshing over their heads faster than an A10 from Hanscom Air Force Base. In short: the song is talking about how much Boston sucks.
    JimmyCarlBlackon March 04, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe actual lyrics are "Lovers, FUGGERS and thieves"
    Johnny0225on February 03, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWell, as the lyrics say, it's about the Boston Strangler. For those who don't know, he would sneak into the dorms at a nursing school after curfew ("wishin' and a-hopin' that just once those doors weren't locked") and strangle girls who were alone in their rooms ("frustrated women, have to be in by twelve o'clock"). Anyway, he confesses at the end: "Have you heard about the strangler, I'm the man, I'm the man!"


    The true meaning for Bostonians is an anthem of pride for a city that gets no respect. You have not really heard this song until you've been in a bar full of Red Sox fans lifting their beers and screaming at the top of their lungs: "I LOVE THAT DIRTY WATER....OOH, BOSTON YOU'RE MY HOME!!!" And that, my friends, is one of the most glorious moments in life.
    koosgirlon May 13, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentget up and boogie
    sdz896542on December 27, 2015   Link
  • -1
    General CommentGreat Bsoton song, a lot better than Tesse, anything is.
    Rider_On_the_Stormon February 24, 2005   Link
  • -1
    General CommentReminds me of wins at Fenway for the Sox. And yes, much better than Tessie.
    MetalliCatManon August 20, 2006   Link
  • -1
    General CommentI'm not generally a fan of Boston, but I love this song. One of my friends introduced me to it. Good rythym. The meaning, to me, is pretty clear.
    Play the Gameon April 08, 2007   Link

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