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.


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  1. 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.

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