Dylan cover of the day 19: Boots of Spanish leather

By Tony Attwood

I am, rather obviously, working through Dylan songs in alphabetical order, looking for unusual and intriguing cover versions which give me enjoyment in themselves and/or insight into the original.  And, rather than this being a presentation of cover versions that I already know and like, I am also trying to find something new – or at least something new for me.  Occasionally an old favourite slips in, but not too often.

The first reworking I came across was completely unexpected.   Spanish boots of Spanish leather begins at 4’20” in the recording below, and if you by chance or decision play this video from the start, and then think “absolutely not for me” I would still urge you to jump to 4’20” – I’ve just played it four times, and really love it.  Utterly haunting.

Speaking of foreign tongues, (which we weren’t) we have considered Dylan in Frisian before – De kweade boadskipper (The wicked messenger), and one that at the time wasn’t freely available but is now – The  Drifters Escape.  You might care to venture therein.

Anyway, back to Spanish Leather.  Or rather Learen Spaanske skuon by Reina Rodina

The point is of course that since we all know the lyrics by heart, it doesn’t matter if the song is sung in another language – and venturing into these non-English versions tends (I feel) to give me ever greater insights into the potential of each song.  Now that may sound like a pretentious load of old cobblers to you, and maybe it is, but I do often find these non-English versions leave me feeling the song in a new way, as well as being very pleasing.

In fact there is something about hearing a song one knows so well, without the lyrics in English, because it forces an extra focus on the music – in this case the beautiful singing voice of Ernst Jansz with his exquisite guitar work.

But of course, there are millions (well, quite a few) versions in English.  Far too many beautiful ones to list here, so the recordings chosen may well miss out a range of jewels – and surely that tells us a lot about the magnitude of the achievement of some of these songs.

This version is by Tow’rs

The lines

Oh, the same thing I would want today
I would want again tomorrow

are among the most beautiful and poignant love lyrics I have ever heard.

So, it turns out there is a vast number of covers of this song, and many of them are beautifully presented and exquisitely executed.

Here are two more which travel in completely different directions

This final version is from the unlikely named The Airborne Toxic Event and this wins my prize for the biggest surprise that I got in working through some of the many versions I’ve listened to this afternoon.

The harmonies between the male and female voices are utterly unexpected as is the changing accompaniment and the glorious instrumental break.  The simplicity with which the two voices deliver the last sung verse, followed by the instrumental coda is perfection for my ears.

——————-

Untold Dylan was created in 2008 and is published daily – currently twice a day, sometimes more, sometimes less.  Details of some of our series are given at the top of the page and in the Recent Posts list, which appears both on the right side of the page and at the very foot of the page (helpful if you are reading on a phone).  Some of our past articles which form part of a series are also included on the home page.

Articles are written by a variety of volunteers and you can read more about them here    If you would like to write for Untold Dylan, do email with your idea or article to Tony@schools.co.uk – but please do note, all writers are volunteers; we don’t have the funds to pay.  But our readership is rather large (many thanks to Rolling Stone for help in that regard). Details of some of our past articles are also included on the home page.

We also have a Facebook site with over 13,000 members – which is rather nice.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Dylan cover of the day 19: Boots of Spanish leather

  1. Chris says:

    The Tow’rs version is amazing. Their two voices blend together perfectly. It is great seeing the younger generation appreciating Bob and reinterpretating him so beautifully.

  2. Bert Oskam says:

    You must check out the beautiful version that Mandolin Orange made.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.