The title came from a phrase Bono's father, Bob Hewson, used to say: "It's a dirty day."
The song is about a father who leaves his family and is later confronted by the son he abandoned. Bono says the song was influenced by his father's attitude, but it is not his story. Bono's mother died when he was 14, and he was raised by his dad from that point onward. Their relationship was rocky and sometimes distant, influencing this song about emotional detachment.
The author Charles Bukowski, whose nickname was Hank, was an influence on this song. At the end, when Bono repeats, "The days, days, days run away like horses over the hill," that's a reference to Bukowski's 1969 collection of poetry, The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over the Hills.
Scott Minor from Reading OhioTruly one of U2's shining gems. Very atmospheric song. Very much like The Doors music.
Karl from Toronto , OnThis is a song about the JFK assassination. I saw an interview related to this.
Eddie from East Islip, NyI would think this is refering to any father son relationship. Possibly Bono and his dad.
Mike from Fair Haven, Vti think this is one of their best songs-very angry-the live version is incredible
Acrobat from Adelaide, AustraliaThis is a song about a father and son arguing. Bono said it wasn't he and his father, but upon listening to it and knowing what we do of his relationship with his father... it could possibly be and not even he know it. Many of the phrases used in this song 'throw a rock in the air, you'll hit someone guilty' are things his Da would say