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Words & Music by Ewan MacColl
Ewan McColl wrote this song about Salford in Lancashire, although equally it could describe many Northern English towns. As many English songs have been, it was usurped by Irish interests and sadly mangled by The Pogues. I have attempted to return it to its original a state, as the kind of bitter-sweet ballad that would have summed up my feelings about the Manchester I was brought up in.
I have always hated the Pogues’ version of Dirty Old Town. They contrived to omit all references to Salford (next door to Manchester where I was born and brought up), but also dialect Lancashire words such as "croft". They turned Ewan McColl's ballad into a typically moronic, bawdy unintelligible Irish drinking song so I decided to return the song to its Salford roots and its original bitter/ sweet sentiment.


Composer: Ewan McColll/ Arr. Drane

I met my love by the gas works croft
Dreamed a dream by the old canal
And I kissed my girl by the factory wall
This dirty old town, it never leaves you at all.

Clouds are drifting, across the moon
Cats are prowling, out on their beats
Spring's a girl, in the streets at night
This dirty old town, where the street lamps won’t light
They just give up the fight

This dirty, dirty old town
It’s my dirty, dirty old town.

I heard a siren across the docks
Saw a train, set the night on fire
Smelled the spring in the Salford wind
That whips this old town, it can strip off your skin
Oh it can whip you.

I'm going to make me a good sharp axe
Shining steel tempered in the fire
I'm gonna chop you down like an old dead tree
This dirty old town, it doesn’t matter to me
But does it matter?

It’s just a dirty, dirty old town
But it’s my dirty, dirty old town.
Just a dirty, dirty old town
But it’s my dirty, dirty old town.

© PhilDrane Music 2016