[The Hank at the end of the lyrics] is the American poet and novelist Charles Bukowski (1920-1994). The song was dedicated to him on the album sleeve, and Bono has mentioned him and his work in the past. His work is mostly about remaining human in a de-humanizing world of poverty, crime, insanity, and ignorance. It is sort of gritty, but definitely worth checking out.
Rob Rabe rrabeunlinfo.unl.edu (contributed before the 20:th of February 1998)
Dirty Day sounds a like a song written to the Church and God. It opens with the scenario of the disillusioned Christian walking out, not because of God, but because of the Church. He describes what Church has become Dragging me down. That's not the way it used to be. He seems to be tired of the blame and guilt, God has the last judgement. He also describes Jesus and God, the crucifixion, Judas' kiss, and that the bible remains eternal there's no blood thicker than ink. Read the song through line by line and you can definitely see a conversation. Bono wants to be free of the trappings of religion and just be in God I'm in you. More so when they put me in the ground. -- This is only one interpretation, I don't presume that it's the only one, after all, Bono wrote Nothing's as simple as you think
Tim Faul tcfaulmsn.com (contributed before the 20:th of February 1998)
Dirty Day is about divorce. It would seem to have been inspired by the divorce that The Edge was going through at the time Zooropa was being recorded. "I don't know you, and you don't know the half of it." To me, this is about the division that has grown between two people that once shared a life. Now though, the frustration and animosity is so great that they cannot even relate to each other. The main character leaves in attempt to avoid any further confrontation, but even in doing that he is met with bitterness and blame. "They say be careful where you aim 'cause where you aim you just might hit." The arguments and the personal attacks between two people so close can strike deep. Couples know each others weaknesses. Despite how hard you try to make it seem otherwise, things just cant be reconciled. "Dragging me down/Thats not the way it used to be," Instead of the uplifting feelings of love, the main character feels hurt and depressed about the situation. The fighting makes the singer wish he could forget that first day they met (the Dirty Day) while she isn't even interested in trying to remember how good the early days were. "Throw a rock in the air/you're bound to hit someone guilty" The futility of it all makes the main character question WHY things are the way they are and WHO is to blame, but he also realizes that that's pointless. A random scapegoat is all he can hope for. "Love won't last kissing time" Love is fleeting. The physical manifestations of it seem to last longer than the actual feeling. It has become a charade. "Get it right/ There's no blood thicker than ink/ hear what I say/ Nothing's as simple as you think," The signature on the divorce papers erases the familial relations between the couple. The bond of holy matrimony cannot withstand a lawers ink. Love and Marriage arent as easy as they sound. "wake up! some things you cant get around/ Im in you / more so when they put me in the ground" The main character forces himself to face facts. Things are over. But he still loves his wife and he hopes they can be together in the great beyond that follows death. "Days, days days runaway like horses over the hill" You cant hold on to time or stop the inevitable.
Eric Serviss sirvizaol.com (28:th of January 1999)
To understand Dirty Day, think of it as a conversation, or perhaps a letter, between a father and the son whom he abandoned. Once you think in that context, the lyrics make a lot of sense. You can almost go line by line and listen as the father explores his thoughts, justifications, consequences, and emotions as he looks back many years later. The conversation seems to have been sparked through some kind of contact with the son, or perhaps it is just the result of the father examining his life.
Given that Charles Bukowski (Hank) is mentioned by name (also in the dedication), you can make the argument that the father is either him, or at least a writer. I don't know whether such an event happened in Bukowski's life, but the views and emotions expressed in the lyrics certainly fit with Bukowski's perspectives as demonstrated throughout his work. Particularly, the hard boiled attitude, the isolation, and the disillusionment reek of Bukowski, both in his life and his work.
Finally, knowing how rarely Bono is truly literal and straightforward with his lyrics, it's quite possible that he imagined this situation, and how Bukowski might deal with it or write about it. But in the end, it seems pretty clear that the Dirty Day was when the father walked out the door.
Dan Mulville dmulvillehotmail.com(22:nd of August 2001)