21 May 2010

Your Weekly Dylan Cover (#5)

Nanci Griffith
"Boots of Spanish Leather"

Original Dylan version found on The Times They Are A-Changin' (1964)

This selection is a bookend to last week's choice (The Clancy Brothers' cover of "When The Ship Comes In") in that "Boots of Spanish Leather" is another track taken from Bob Dylan's 1964 album The Times They Are A-Changin'. In addition, the version by Texas singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith also had its roots in the 30th Anniversary Concert back on 12 October 1992.

In and around that time, Nanci Caroline Griffith was recording her tenth full-length record, to be titled Other Voices, Other Rooms. It was her first album of cover songs, and she had lined up an impressive array of musicians to play on songs written by indivduals who had most shaped her career and craft: Emmylou Harris, John Prine, Arlo Guthrie, Iris DeMent, Guy Clark, Jerry Jeff Walker, Allison Krauss, John Hartford, Leo Kottke - and Bob Dylan.

The version of "Boots of Spanish Leather" presented here is quite close to the original. But what makes it unique is Griffith's voice - not only its beauty and lilt, rambling down the road with a natural story-teller's ease, but also listening to the last three verses sung from a woman's perspective. Dylan's gentle background harmonica adds a subtle touch of grace to this intensely personal song between two lovers.

[Thanks to Peggy Day for the suggestion.]


Original Listening: Bob Dylan, "Boots of Spanish Leather"

Live Listening & Viewing: Nanci Griffith & Carolyn Hester, "Boots of Spanish Leather" (New York City, 16 October 1992)

Another Cover Version: Dervish, "Boots of Spanish Leather" (2007)

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