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Q&A

Is there any cultural background in Bob Dylan's "Boots of Spanish leather" final desire?

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I recently discovered Boots of Spanish Leather, a 1963 song by Bob Dylan through Joan Baez's cover in Any Day Now (1968).

Its lyrics really moved me, so I tried to understand them deeply. The Wikipedia article (linked above) explains the meaning perfectly:

The song is written as a dialogue, with the first six stanzas alternating between the two lovers; however, the last two stanzas are both given by the lover who has been left behind.

However, what gives the name to the song is:

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".

Maybe because I live in Spain, or maybe because a Spanish boots per se don't sound any special, I would like to know if there is some cultural background in this reference. Were Spanish boots and/or Spanish leather part of some kind of trend, or a motto to people just traveling? Was there any hidden meaning of those?

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2 comment threads

Meaning of "Spanish boot" (2 comments)
Good question. (1 comment)

1 answer

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This is a good question.

In one sense, "Spanish boots of Spanish leather", has a far-away romantic mysterious suggestiveness, at least to American's who haven't traveled much. Bob Dylan had probably traveled some by the time the song was written, but most of his audience of that era probably hadn't traveled much and took the phrase to evoke the interesting mix of a material request and still some romantic quality.

In addition there might be more specific references that I'm unaware of. :-)

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1 comment thread

Some of the gifts that she says she doesn't want are also Spanish, so I don't think the exotic source... (1 comment)

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