I met my love by the gas works wall
Dreamed a dream by the old canal
I kissed my girl by the factory wall
Dirty old town
Dirty old town

Clouds are drifting across the moon
Cats are prowling on their beat
Spring's a girl from the streets at night
Dirty old town
Dirty old town

I heard a siren from the docks
Saw a train set the night on fire
I smelled the spring on the smoky wind
Dirty old town
Dirty old town

I'm gonna make me a big sharp axe
Shining steel tempered in the fire
I'll chop you down like an old dead tree
Dirty old town
Dirty old town

I met my love by the gas works wall
Dreamed a dream by the old canal
I kissed my girl by the factory wall
Dirty old town
Dirty old town

Dirty old town
Dirty old town


Lyrics submitted by black_cow_of_death, edited by epiwoosh

Dirty Old Town Lyrics as written by Ewan Maccoll

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Dirty Old Town song meanings
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9 Comments

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  • +2
    General Comment

    This song is about Salford, which is in fact a dirty old town. A 2005 survey rated the city as the 9th worst place to live in the UK.

    ginissimoon March 13, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    There's a kind of defiant pride to this. Like," yes it's filthy and indutrialized, but it's mine." Written about his home town

    yomejustaon December 08, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Yeah it was written by Ewan McCall only it was written about either Salford or Stockport. When the Pogues came to Manchester, they actually told the crown that "this song was written about living around here". Thanks Shane

    conorwon December 23, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    McColl apparantly didn't like the Pogues' cover of this song at first. Fortunately for him, he changed his mind.

    NellieWhiskeyon June 29, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Surely should have a link to Ewen MacColl whi wrote the song.

    neil104159on July 05, 2022   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation

    Boy, I think I really misinterpreted these lyrics. I've loved the Pogues version for decades, but just recently learned how to sing it and play it on guitar. So I was paying much closer attention to the lyrics than in the past. First verse is obvious. It's about falling in love with a girl, but the next verse talks about cats prowling at night and a girl emerging from streets. Another verse mentions spring is in the air. Does that mean his girl is sneaking around at night, maybe having a spring fling while he's working late at the factory? Then comes the verse about making a sharp axe and chopping someone down like "like an old dead tree"? Sounds like he's planning a murder. Is he sharpening his axe in a jealous rage because he thinks his girl has been prowling the streets at night cheating on him with a new lover? Seems like a plausible interpretation, and there are certainly lots of other songs about jealousy, rage, and murder. A good example is Down By The River by Neil Young, but I'm sure there are many English and Irish folk songs with similar themes. However, I've since read about Ewan MacColl's inspiration for the song and realize I was off-base. Which is good, because I don't like singing songs about domestic violence.

    streetcoreon February 22, 2024   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    i think it was written by kirsty mcolls father Ewan for a musical about growing up in Sheffeild and the pouges covered it. but it could describe any industrialised city in the uk.

    boggleson February 19, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Yeah it was written by Ewan McCall. I recon they done an excellent version.

    ThePogueson August 27, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    incredible song,amazing lyrics i cant say anymore

    ronaldo6on April 01, 2007   Link

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