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He soaked up the songs and the lore of folk and blues, cobbling together a shtick—an Okie patois, a shambling affect, and a fixation with Woody Guthrie, the socialist troubadour of the ’30s and ’40s and the author of “This Land Is Your Land,” who at the time was dying in a New Jersey hospital.It all served to disguise, at first, a mysterious charisma—with eyes, as Joan Baez remembered them later, “bluer than robin’s eggs”—and an apparent ambition that left a few damaged friendships, and egos, in its wake.His second album contained several tracks that became standards.
First, you have to appreciate the many layers that make up his peculiar but unmistakable aesthetic.
Time and focus shift; first person can become third; sometimes more than one story seems to be being told at the same time (“Tangled Up in Blue” and “All Along the Watchtower” are two good examples).
And then there’s plain sonic impact: Even his earliest important songs have a cerebral and reverberating authority in the recording, his voice sometimes filling the speakers, his primitive but blistering guitar work adding confrontation, ease, humor, anger, and contrariness, presenting all but the most unwilling listeners with moment after moment of incandescence.
The woman wants to bring the guy back a present; the guy keeps saying he wants nothing besides her return.
She finally says she won’t be coming back for a while—at which point the guy asks for a gift: some “Spanish boots of Spanish leather.” It’s not clear why the word Spanish is repeated.