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On a expedition to Boston with his girlfriend, singer-songwriter and producer Ed Cobb was mugged. The experience soured Cobb top top the city, and inspired him to compose the unflattering ode to Boston, “Dirty Water.”
Cobb originally wrote it as a blues song. When he passed it onto The Standells, the band members tweaked the music and some of the lyrics. Yet most of Cobb’s initial track remained, through allusions come the then-filthy Charles River and also the curfews facing young women in college:
Yeah, down by the riverDown by the financial institutions of the river Charles (aw, that’s what’s happenin’ baby)That’s wherein you’ll uncover meAlong v lovers, muggers, and also thieves (aw, but they’re cool, too)Well ns love the dirty waterOh, Boston, you’re my house (oh, you’re the Number One place)Frustrated ladies (I median they’re frustrated)Have to be in by twelve o’clock (oh, that’s a shame)But I’m wishin’ and a-hopin, ohThat just once those doors weren’t locked (I choose to save time forMy baby to walk around)Well i love that dirty waterOh, Boston, you’re my house (oh, yeah)Because i love the dirty waterOh, oh, Boston, you’re my house (oh, yeah)
“Dirty Water” came to be the only Top 20 hit for the band, peaking in ~ Number 11 in 1966.
Larry Tamblyn, cofounder the The Standells, called Boston.com in 2015 the the band was surprised through the song’s success:
It was tape-recorded in 1965, but it no hit the charts till 1966… it started getting play in Orlando. The went toward the height of the charts there, and also spread right into Miami, and it progressively spread its way up the coast… There to be such a long lag between recording the we had actually forgotten it. Us basically had to relearn it.
In the last 50 years, together “Dirty Water” has taken on one outsize role as Boston’s unofficial design template song. Composing for Boston.com in 2015, Adam Vaccaro pinpointed the ’90s together the time as soon as “Dirty Water” started becoming part of Boston culture. It was then that the maligned Charles river was asserted to it is in clean, such the a “Dirty Water” referral was low-hanging fruit because that every reporter crafting a lede or copy editor composing a headline. (It quiet is.) In 1995, the Boston Bruins started playing the song after wins, and also within three years, the Red Sox adopted the exact same tradition. Two years later, the song has actually spread its tendrils past the Bruins and the Sox to come to be a music shorthand because that Boston. It’s showed up in commercials, consisting of an ad because that Benjamin Moore.
The irony is that when the members of The Standells videotaped the song, they had actually never been to Boston. In the last five decades some that the bands to record the song had actually no Boston ties either, v at least two bands tweaking the tune to erase the Boston references. Other covers have leaned right into the song’s association v Boston, consisting of one through a previous Red Sox player.
Garage tape The Gants spanned “Dirty Water” ~ above the band’s album “Gants Galore,” exit in 1966. The setup was similar to The Standells’, despite The Gants added some remarkable piano. Yet the many obvious adjust was in the chorus, whereby The Gants said, “Miami, you’re mine home.”
Psychedelic absent band liberty released that “Dirty Water” covering in 1970, tweaking several of the lyrics and also renaming that “Frustrated Woman.” The track sounded a small less garage-y than the original, v some slightly much more polished, bluesier guitar interludes.
The Inmates was one of a couple of British bands come revive garage absent in the late 1970s. The band had a hit v its 1979 cover of “Dirty Water,” invested 10 main on the Billboard hot 100, peaking at Number 51 in at an early stage 1980. “The flow Charles” ended up being “The flow Thames,” and also when it came time come say, “Boston, you’re my home,” The Inmates’ substituted London instead.
Icelandic shoegaze band Singapore Sling finished its 2002 debut album, “The Curse of Singapore Sling,” through a “Dirty Water” cover. At practically seven minute long, the cover to be a slow-moving burn that fuzzy guitars the sounded much more like The Jesus and also Mary Chain than The Standells.
Boston punk band The Dropkick Murphys play “Dirty Water” ~ above its 2002 album, “Live ~ above St. Patrick’s Day.” The just thing more Boston than a “Dirty Water” sheathe performed through The Dropkick Murphys on St. Patrick’s Day would certainly be if they had actually a Red Sox player v them.
A couple of years later, a Red Sox player go cover the song. Pitcher Bronson Arroyo released a consist of album in 2005, appropriately called “Covering the Bases.” released the year after ~ Arroyo assisted the Red Sox success the World collection against the St. Luigi Cardinals, the covering referenced that historic victory and name-dropped numerous of the team’s most famous players.
Australian band Pearls extended “Dirty Water” because that “Antipodean Interpolations of the very first Psychedelic Era 1965-1968,” exit to mark the 40th anniversary that Nuggets. Reinterpreting the song as a dreamy noise popular music song, ships all but jettisoned the initial arrangement.
Over the years, the song has actually been a go-to for live shows, an especially in the two decades due to the fact that The Bruins and The Red Sox adopted it together a post-win solemn event song.
The Standells perform “Dirty Water” at Fenway in 2004 to mark the historical Red Sox illustration in the civilization Series.
Aerosmith play “Dirty Water” live at a 2009 show, bringing on The Dropkick Murphys to help them.
Bruce Springsteen play “Dirty Water” in ~ 2012 display at Fenway, presenting it by saying, “I want to tell friend a tiny story… A story around YOUR town!”
The adhering to year, “Dirty Water” was played at the very least three times at live shows in Boston, taking on a brand-new symbolism in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. The Dropkick Murphys play the track at a live present shortly after the attacks, with number of fans on stage singing along them.
Later the year, open minded Turner perform “Dirty Water” in Boston, and instead of having actually the lyrics on a teleprompter or a music stand, the recruited James Lynch that The Dropkick Murphys to hold a sheet of the lyrics up for him.
But of every the live version of “Dirty Water” performed in Boston in 2013, maybe the most memorable variation was at the “Boston Strong: An night of Support and also Celebration” benefit concert. Aerosmith, Dane Cook, Jimmy Buffett, James Taylor, Peter Wolf, and the new Kids top top the Block all sang the song together favor a bunch that friends in ~ karaoke.
As crucial as the track is come Boston, its affect goes past the so-called “Hub of the Universe.” The Rock and Roll room of Fame listed “Dirty Water” as one of the “Songs that Shaped Rock and also Roll.” as I claimed earlier, The Standells never had actually a bigger hit. However Ed Cobb, the band’s producer that wrote “Dirty Water,” did have a larger hit. A lot bigger hit.
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That, of course, to be “Tainted Love.”
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