The "Dirty Water" is the notoriously polluted Charles River in Boston, which had become a receptacle for industrial waste. But the song comes off as a celebration of Boston, not an ecological warning:I love that dirty water
Boston, you're my home
It may be dirty, but it's their home and they love it anyway.
The song has become a Boston anthem and a source of pride for the city, but it was written and performed by guys from Los Angeles who didn't have any good tidings toward the city.
The Standells were an LA garage band; the song was written by their producer, Ed Cobb, another Californian who was once a member of The Four Preps and wrote the song "Tainted Love
," recorded by the soul singer Gloria Jones in 1964 but a hit for the electro group Soft Cell in 1981. Cobb wrote "Dirty Water" on a visit to Boston that turned ugly. "I was with a girl," he told Blitz
magazine. "Two guys tried to mug us, but they ran away. So when I got back to the hotel, I wrote the song."
The guy in the song is happy to live in this gritty city among the "fuggers and thieves." After all, it's his home.