Guess what Bob Dylan’s got to do with footwear (and Spanish leather)…

Bob Dylan’s grandfather was a shoe manufacturer, and Bob contributed (perhaps unknowingly) to launching the Clarks brand and has written songs about shoes. The new Nobel Literature laureate’s paternal grandfather, Zigman Zimmerman, lived in Odessa in Ukraine, where he had a large shoe factory. He fled to the USA as a victim of the 1905 pogrom, and settled in Duluth, Minnesota, where he became an itinerant street trader and went on to work as a salesman in the footwear department of the Fair Department Store. Zigman passed on his passion for shoes to his son, Abram, who worked as a shoe shiner as a boy and was to become the father of Bob Dylan (whose real name is Robert Zimmerman). Dylan contributed, probably unbeknown to him, to the popularity of Clarks shoes during the 1960s and ‘70s, as he often used to wear them, like other musical and style icons of the time. Moreover, in his historic album “The times they are a changin’” Dylan included the track “Boots of Spanish Leather” inspired by his girlfriend Suze Rotolo, who later left him to study in Italy. Some people attribute the title to a reference to the song Gypsy Davy by Woody Guthrie, which ends with the abandoned husband asking his wife to take off her Spanish leather gloves and go back home with him. And in his song “I and I”, written in 1983, Dylan sings “I’ve made shoes for everyone, even you, while I still go barefoot.”


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