Was Dylan writing about us?

Bob Dylan’s early hit Boots of Spanish Leather was recorded 60 years ago today, and it’s only recently that I wondered how he came upon the immortal phrase, ‘boots of Spanish leather’. Because he’s obviously talking about us isn’t he?

‘Boots of Spanish leather’ was released in 1964 on the album The times they are a-changin’.

It’s a bitter-sweet love song between two parting lovers. She is saying good bye as gently as possible before she sails to Spain and offers him a keepsake. He just wants her to come home safely, but when the penny drops and he realises that she’s not coming back, and having rejected ‘something fine, made of silver or of golden’, he asks for ‘Spanish Boots of Spanish leather’.

Why? Well presumably they offer the ability for him to get up and walk away from the relationship. Boots are protective footwear and although his heart is bruised, he’s clearly a practical man who realises that life must go on.

This phrase should resonate with Cordwainers, though. Boots of Spanish leather mean one thing – Cordoba, home of the finest quality Spanish leather, which was used by London’s Cordwainers for generations.

Mr Dylan, on this significant anniversary, the Cordwainers salute you!