As we sailed into Skibreen: a Leven / Dylan collaboration.

By Tony Attwood

This is a song by Jackie Leven and Bob Dylan set to a melody that combines (at least to my ears) elements of “One too many mornings” and “Times they are a changing”.  However the story presented on most websites just says “One too many”.

In this case it seems that Leven wrote the lyrics and Dylan (or so these various sites that all seem to have been copied from the same source “suggested the tune of One too many mornings”.   But try as I do, I can’t hear this.  If he was told to use One too many, I think he strayed as he worked – although there is no harm in that.  But it really does remind me of “Times” whenever I listen to it.  Anyway the song is credited to Jackie Leven/Bob Dylan.

So this is what the various websites say…

“According to the ‘The Telegraph’, Jackie met Dylan in a Bar in Berlin on 5th Oct 1988 and they later travelled together by train from Berlin to St Petersburg.

“Jackie showed Dylan some lyrics he had written and Bob suggested he put the lyrics to the tune of ‘One Too Many Mornings’. Jackie did this and the song ‘As We Sailed into Skibbereen’ was released on a 4 track cd single and the album The Argyll Cycle Vol 1. Columbia got the track withdrawn in the uk but not in Germany, so it’s something of a collectors item.”

There is another song called “Skibbereen” which can be found on the internet, and which has been recorded by the Dubliners, but which is totally different.

Skibbereen itself is a town in County Cork, Ireland.  The name is sometimes written or said as “Skibb” which in Gaelic means “little boat harbour”.   The harbour is on the river Ilen which flows into the sea 12km down stream, at Baltimore.

The population of the town is around 2500.

So, it gets added to the list of Dylan co-compositions.  And it really is rather pleasant.


  1. It’s a great little story, with some debate as to whether it is true or not. Leven was a renowned teller of tall tales. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one as he is sadly no longer with us and it gave us this delightful song. It’s funny cause I always thought Skibbereen was in Scotland. I just never looked it up! Considering I’m Scottish I really should have checked it out!!

    He also did a great version of She Belongs To Me

  2. I remember this story, it was in The Telegraph No 51. Back at that time, I had been to see Jackie play a few times in London. I wrote to him as I wanted to buy a copy of this and he sent me back a signed copy which I still have. If memory serves me correctly he said it was his last copy. He really was a lovely guy.


  3. Rory, that is a great story! Just shows what a lovely guy he was.

    Jackie would also claim that his song “Moscow Train” was co-written by Bob with bob suggesting the line “A closed-eyed woman is looking at me on a Moscow train”. Bob is supposed to have said this when describing his experience on the Moscow subway system in Oct 1985. However Bob received no credit when the song was released so who knows!

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