Song Lyric Sunday — Two Car Garage

This week’s theme for Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday is garage rock. Garage rock is a genre of rock that started in the late 50s and early 60s. As Jim pointed out, garage rock has a unique sound that is characterized by piano riffs that were sometimes distorted through a fuzzbox, as well as aggressive lyrics with growling vocals. The garage rock song I’m going with is “Dirty Water” by the Standells, which is now considered a classic of the garage rock genre.

“Dirty Water” was a song by the American garage rock band The Standells, written by their producer Ed Cobb. First issued in late 1965, the song reached number 11 on the Billboard singles charts in June 1966. It was the band’s first major hit single.

Cobb wrote “Dirty Water” on a visit to Boston that turned ugly. He was with a girl when two guys tried to mug them, but they ran away. Cobb said, “So when I got back to the hotel, I wrote the song.”

Standell’s drummer, Dick Dodd, who was once on The Mickey Mouse Club, handled lead vocals on this track. His spoken lines and interjections (“I’m gonna tell you a story…” “Have you heard about the Strangler?”) he made up in the studio.

The guy in the song, whose home is in Boston, is happy to live in this gritty city among the “muggers and thieves.” The line, “Frustrated women have to be in by 12 o’clock” refers to the curfew observed by Boston University co-eds at the time.

While the song was a pretty big hit when it was released in 1966, it didn’t gain its mystique until 50 years later, when the Boston professional sports teams adopted it. The Boston Red Sox baseball team was the first to use it, playing it after home wins in 1997. The Celtics basketball team and Bruins hockey team followed suit, making it the song most associated with Boston sports, and thus the city as a whole.

Interestingly, “Dirty Water” 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 of Boston.

Here are the lyrics to “Dirty Water.”

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)

13 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday — Two Car Garage

  1. willowdot21 January 1, 2023 / 6:22 am

    Good choice..

    Strange that Bostonians would use it as an anthem ?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango January 1, 2023 / 8:33 am

      I think it’s the line, “Oh, Boston, you’re my home” that does it.


      • willowdot21 January 1, 2023 / 8:40 am

        If they only listened properly. It’s like all those couples back in the day who used Sting singing “every move you make ” as accompaniment to their wedding video or first dance when it’s a song about a stalker!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. newepicauthor January 1, 2023 / 6:39 am

    Great choice for a garage rock song. Many people consider the 1966 song ‘Dirty Water’ to be the first punk song. Since you spent some time in Boston Fandango I am wondering if you felt safe there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango January 1, 2023 / 8:14 am

      I always felt safe in the city. Never mugged. Never threatened.

      Liked by 1 person

      • newepicauthor January 1, 2023 / 8:16 am

        I walked through the Combat Zone and a prostitute tried to steal my wallet.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Fandango January 1, 2023 / 8:41 am

          Why? Did you fail to pay her for her services? 😏

          Liked by 1 person

          • newepicauthor January 1, 2023 / 10:09 am

            I did not solicit her services, she just started rubbing me on the street as I walked past her, and she did that to distract me, but I caught her hand as it was pulling my wallet out of my pocket.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Marleen January 1, 2023 / 12:34 pm


    Liked by 1 person

  4. bushboy January 1, 2023 / 2:16 pm

    The back story is far more interesting than the song which could have been any song in the early 60’s.
    They sort of sound like Australias Masters Apprentices or The Easybeats

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nope, Not Pam January 1, 2023 / 10:50 pm

    That was really cool, loved the video, the drummer looked so uncomfortable 🥴

    Liked by 1 person

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