Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat

"Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" is a song by Bob Dylan, from his 1966 album Blonde on Blonde.[2] Like many other Dylan songs of the 1965–1966 period,[citation needed] the song features a surreal, playful lyric set to an electric blues accompaniment.

"Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat"
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat (Bob Dylan single - cover art).jpg
Single by Bob Dylan
from the album Blonde on Blonde
B-side"Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine"
ReleasedApril 24, 1967[1]
RecordedMarch 10, 1966
GenreElectric blues
2:20 (single edit)
Songwriter(s)Bob Dylan
Producer(s)Bob Johnston
Bob Dylan singles chronology
"Just Like a Woman"
"Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat"
"If You Gotta Go, Go Now"
Blonde on Blonde track listing


Dylan's lyrics affectionately ridicule a female "fashion victim" who wears a leopard-skin pillbox hat. The pillbox hat was a fashionable ladies' hat in the United States in the early to mid-1960s, most famously worn by Jacqueline Kennedy.[3][4] Dylan satirically crosses this accessory's high-fashion image with leopard-skin material, perceived as more downmarket and vulgar. The song was also written and released after pillbox hats had been at the height of fashion.[3]

Some journalists and Dylan biographers have speculated that the song was inspired by Edie Sedgwick, an actress and model associated with Andy Warhol.[5][6] It has been suggested that Sedgwick was an inspiration for other Dylan songs of the time as well, particularly some from Blonde on Blonde.[7]


The song melodically and lyrically resembles Lightnin' Hopkins's "Automobile Blues",[8] with Dylan's opening line of "Well, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat," echoing Hopkins's "I saw you riding 'round in your brand new automobile," and the repeated line of "...brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat," melodically descending in the same manner of the Hopkins refrain "...in your brand new fast car". The Dylan reference to "the garage door" in the final verse of "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" may also be an allusion to the automobile of Hopkins's song.

In 2013 experimental hip-hop group Death Grips released a song titled "You Might Think He Loves You for Your Money But I Know What He Really Loves You for It’s Your Brand New Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat" named after one of the lines in the song.[9]

Recording sessionsEdit

Dylan began to include "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" in his live concerts with the Hawks in late 1965, and the song was one of the first compositions attempted by Dylan and the Hawks when in January 1966 they went into Columbia recording studios in New York City to record material for the Blonde on Blonde album. The song was attempted on January 25 (2 takes) and January 27 (4 takes), but no recording was deemed satisfactory.[5] One of the takes from January 25 was released in 2005 on The Bootleg Series Vol. 7: No Direction Home: The Soundtrack.

Frustrated with the lack of progress made with the Hawks in the New York sessions (only one song, "One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)", had been successfully realized), Dylan relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, in February 1966, where the evening of the first day of recording (February 14) was devoted to "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat". Present at the session were Charlie McCoy (guitar and bass), Kenny Buttrey (drums), Wayne Moss (guitar), Joseph A. Souter Jr. (guitar and bass), Al Kooper (organ), Hargus Robbins (piano) and Jerry Kennedy (guitar). Earlier in the day Dylan and the band had achieved satisfactory takes of "Fourth Time Around" and "Visions of Johanna" (which were included on the album), but none of the 13 takes of "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" recorded on February 14 were to Dylan's satisfaction. Dylan soon left Nashville to play some concerts with the Hawks. He returned in March for a second set of sessions. A satisfactory take of "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" was finally achieved in the early hours of March 10, 1966, by Dylan along with Kenny Buttrey, Henry Strzelecki on bass, and the Hawks's Robbie Robertson on lead guitar (though Dylan himself plays lead guitar on the song's opening 12 bars).[5]

The recording sessions were released in their entirety on the 18-disc Collector's Edition of The Bootleg Series Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge 1965–1966 on November 6, 2015, with highlights from the February 14, 1966, outtakes appearing on the 6-disc and 2-disc versions of that album.[10]


  1. ^ 45 Cat page Dylan singles discography
  2. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 40 - Ballad in Plain D: Bob Dylan. [1966] : UNT Digital Library" (audio). Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu. Retrieved 2011-04-29.
  3. ^ a b Chico, Beverly (2013). Hats and Headwear around the World: A Cultural Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 378–79. ISBN 9781610690638.
  4. ^ Gill, Andy (2013). Bob Dylan: The Stories Behind the Songs 1962-1969. Carlton Books. pp. 144–45. ISBN 9781847327598.
  5. ^ a b c Heylin, Clinton (2009). Revolution in the Air: The Songs of Bob Dylan, 1957-1973. Chicago Review Press. pp. 287–90. ISBN 9781569762684.
  6. ^ Hamilton, Ed (2010). Legends of the Chelsea Hotel: Living with the Artists and Outlaws in New York's Rebel Mecca. Da Capo Press. p. 289. ISBN 9780306820007.
  7. ^ Cresap, Kelly M. (2004). Pop Trickster Fool: Warhol Performs Naivete. University of Illinois Press. p. 183. ISBN 9780252071812.
  8. ^ "Wicked Messenger: Bob Dylan and the 1960s" By Mike Marqusee, p. 191
  9. ^ Death Grips (2013-11-13), Death Grips - You might think he loves you for your money but I know what he really loves you for..., retrieved 2017-12-16
  10. ^ "Bob Dylan - The Cutting Edge 1965–1966: The Bootleg Series Vol. 12". Archived from the original on 2016-02-07. Retrieved 2015-11-29.

External linksEdit