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October 16, 2013

OK, name the sport where going forward actually means going backward, right is really left and it was originally used as capital punishment (think Ben Hur).

If rowing is the sport for the athletically insane (full disclosure, I am a former rower), then it really doesn’t get any crazier than the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston. With over 9,000 rowers in 1,900 boats navigating all those crumbling bridges and dangerous turns on the Charles River this weekend, anything is possible.

And then there is that water. Who knows what  those rowers will find in the Charles River.

For those who aren’t familiar with the song “Dirty Water”, it was written and performed by the California rock band The Standells in 1965 as a mock paean to the city of Boston and its then-famously polluted Boston Harbor and Charles River .

A little research into “Dirty Water” revealed some interesting trivia about the popular song, which makes a passing mention to one of Boston’s most infamous villains (“Have you heard about the Strangler?”) and refers to a mysterious college curfew  (“Frustrated women … have to be in by twelve o’clock”), although that lyric has always been presumed to about the Boston University coeds.

All that I can tell you is that the lyrics to “Dirty Water” may be a bit outdated at this point, but it’s still played all the time in and around Boston. You can’t get away from it if you tried. The New England Patriots were the first to begin playing the song at the end of every game starting in the mid 1980s. The Boston Bruins ice hockey team began playing the song in the early 1990s, and the Boston Red Sox baseball team followed suit after home victories beginning in the 2001 season.

Despite its sarcastic lyrics, and the fact that the Charles River has been allowed to cleanse itself considerably in recent years, everyone seems to love “Dirty Water” here in Boston. Everyone except the Head of the Charles Regatta race committee, that is. They have yet to make it the official song for their prestigious rowing event.

Now I ask you, where is the sanity at the Head of the Charles?

For more interesting trivia about “Dirty Water” and The Standells, click here.

Now it’s your turn. What do you think of the song “Dirty Water” and should it be embraced by Bostonians?

One Comment
  1. joanne permalink

    Back on July 4 1976, 2 friends and I took a canoe down the Charles to watch the fireworks. All was great until one person got out of the canoe tipping us into the water.Down I went and came up with cuts on my hands. Yes, dirty water!

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