Boots of Spanish Leather

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"Boots of Spanish Leather"
Song by Bob Dylan
from the album The Times They Are a-Changin'
ReleasedJanuary 13, 1964
RecordedAugust 7, 1963
GenreAmerican folk music
LabelColumbia Records
Songwriter(s)Bob Dylan
Producer(s)Tom Wilson
The Times They Are a-Changin' track listing

"Boots of Spanish Leather" is a ballad written and performed by Bob Dylan, recorded in New York City on August 7, 1963, and released in 1964 on his album The Times They Are a-Changin'.[1]

Dylan's recording features him solo on the acoustic guitar, playing the song using fingerpicking.

Lyrically, "Boots of Spanish Leather" is a "restless, forlorn ballad for the ages and sages—a classic Dylan tale of two lovers, a crossroads, and the open sea."[2] The song is written as a dialogue, with the first six verses alternating between the two lovers; however, the last three verses are all given by the lover who has been left behind. Within these nine verses, one of the lovers - a woman - goes across the sea. She writes, asking whether her lover would like any gift and he refuses, stating that he only wants her back. Towards the end it becomes clear that she is not returning, and she finally writes saying she may never come back. Her lover comes to realize what has happened and finally gives her a material request: "Spanish boots of Spanish leather."

Michael Gray says there is a strong parallel between this line and the traditional folk song "Blackjack Davey," which Dylan arranged and recorded for his 1992 album Good as I Been to You, and in which footwear of Spanish leather also plays a significant role.[3] However, more often a parallel between this song and the traditional ballad "Scarborough Fair," which Dylan also used for his "Girl from the North Country," is drawn, both regarding melody and lyrics, as it also consists of an alternation between a man and a woman [4].

The song is included in the Norton Anthology of Poetry, 5th edition, in the section titled "Popular Ballads of the 20th Century."[5]

Though occasionally performed live in Dylan's early career -- for example at a New York City concert during the spring preceding the song's studio recording, as heard on Live 1962-1966: Rare Performances from the Copyright Collections -- Dylan did not start performing "Boots of Spanish Leather" regularly until his Never Ending Tour began in 1988.[6]


"Boots of Spanish Leather" has been covered by many musicians, including:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Boots of Spanish Leather | The Official Bob Dylan Site". Sony Music. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  2. ^ Trager, Oliver (2004). Keys to the rain: the definitive Bob Dylan encyclopedia. New York: Billboard Books. p. 80. ISBN 978-0823079742.
  3. ^ Gray, Michael (2002). Song & dance man III : the art of Bob Dylan. London: Continuum. p. 857. ISBN 978-0826463821.
  4. ^ Sheehy, Colleen Josephine; Thomas Swiss (2009). Highway 61 revisited: Bob Dylan's road from Minnesota to the world. U of Minnesota Press. p. 85. ISBN 9780816661008.
  5. ^ Ferguson, Margaret, ed. (2005). The Norton anthology of poetry (5. ed.). New York: Norton. ISBN 978-0393979206.
  6. ^ "Search results for: "Boots of Spanish Leather" The Official Bob Dylan Site". Sony Music Corporation. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013.

External links[edit]