The Best Dylan Covers: Patti Smith with Lenny Kaye – Boots of Spanish Leather

Patti Smith
Photo: Alldylan.com, Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye at Bergenfest 2015

Boots of Spanish Leather is a ballad written and performed by Bob Dylan, and released in 1964 on his album The Times They Are a-Changin’

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

Bob Dylan_The times they are a changin

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.” The song is written as a dialogue, with the first six verses alternating between the man and woman; however, the last three verses are all given by the one who has been left, presumably the man. Within these nine verses, the woman goes across the sea. She writes, asking whether the man would like any gift, and he refuses, saying 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. The man 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.

I don’t think Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye has recorded the song, but they did some wonderful live versions of the song. I’ve found two of them.

Patti Smith & Lenny Kaye – Boots of Spanish Leather (Bob Dylan cover)
Chapelle Sainte-Anne – Arles – France
15 nov 2011

Patti Smith & Lenny Kaye – Boots of Spanish Leather (Barcelona,2011, the first three minutes):

– Hallgeir

Other entries in the series:
The Best Dylan covers: Stevie Wonder – Blowin’ in the wind
The Best Dylan Covers: George Harrison – If Not For You
The Best Dylan Covers: Emmylou Harris – Every Grain of Sand
The Best Dylan Covers: Them – It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
The Best Dylan Covers: Joan Baez – Farewell Angelina
The Best Dylan Covers: Roger McGuinn – Up To Me

The Best Dylan Covers: Jeff Beck Group – Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You
The Best Dylan Covers: Susan Tedeschi – Lord Protect My Child
The Best Dylan Covers: Lucinda Williams – Tryin’ To Get To Heaven
The Best Dylan Covers: Jerry Garcia Band – Simple Twist of Faith
The Best Dylan Covers: Bruce Springsteen – All Along The WatchTower
The Best Dylan Covers: Patti Smith – Changing Of The Guards

The Best Dylan Covers: Johnny Rivers – Positively 4th Street
The Best Dylan Covers: Antony and The Johnsons – Knocking On Heaven’s Door
The Best Dylan Covers: Dave Alvin – Highway 61 Revisited
The Best Dylan Covers: 16 Horsepower – Nobody ‘Cept You
The Best Dylan Covers: Alicia Keys – Pressing On

The Best Dylan Covers: Cowboy Junkies – If You Gotta Go, Go Now
The Best Dylan Covers: Nina Simone – The Ballad of Hollis Brown
The Best Dylan Covers: Ramones – My Back Pages
The Best Dylan Covers: The Long Ryders – Masters of War
The Best Dylan Covers: Cat Power – Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again
The Best Dylan Covers: The Flying Burrito Bros – To Ramona
The Best Dylan Covers: Chrissie Hynde – I Shall Be Released
The Best Dylan Covers: Norah Jones – I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
The Best Dylan Covers: Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash – It Ain’t Me Babe
The Best Dylan Covers: Buddy Miller – With God On Our Side

The Best Dylan Covers: Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy aka Will Oldham – Brownsville Girl
The Best Dylan Covers: Lou Reed – Foot of Pride

The Best Dylan Covers: Indigo Girls – Tangled Up In Blue
The Best Dylan Covers: Tom Jones – What Good Am I

The Best Dylan Covers: Sarah Jarosz – Ring Them Bells
The Best Dylan Covers: Robert Plant – One More Cup Of Coffee
The Best Dylan Covers: Alison Krauss – I Believe In You
The Best Dylan Covers: Mick Ronson with David Bowie – Like A Rolling Stone
The Best Dylan Covers: Steve Earle – It Takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to cry 

 

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