There is a presence of he said, she said in Dylan.  Of course, all things said in Dylan are sung by him. It would be an interesting study to collect all the dialogue in Dylan songs to see it all as one big conversation, “said” included as a rhyme word done, marked, recorded as in a transcript . . . finality . . .

You can’t take back what’s been said in Dylan (you can go back, but not all the way, especially after what’s been said), it’s all there on the page, in the lyrics, in the air from his voice.

said” ends “Beyond Here Lies Nothin.”  “said” having the last word is ironic, especially since it speaks of “nothin” said:

My ship is in the harbor
And the sails are spread
Listen to me pretty baby
Lay your hand upon my head
Beyond here lies nothin’
Nothin’ done and nothin’ said

The song ends as in an echo of King Lear to Cordelia, “Nothing will come of nothing: speak again.” Anything but nothing please.  yes, there’s much ado about “nothing” in that play, the word used more than in any other play of Shakespeare’s.  In Dylan nothing said is serious business, nothing said, nothing sung, no never ending tour with nothing said.  Plenty to say in that, saying “nothin’ said” I mean.
The “said“/”bed” rhyme in “Mississippi” is the opposite of an illogical eye rhyme, one that has words that look like they should rhyme but don’t, like “cough”/dough”  “said” does not look like it rhymes with “bed” but it does, confirmed only through speech.  Likewise, dreams are not reality, and so dreaming of sleeping in Rosie’s bed is one thing:
I was thinkin’ ’bout the things that Rosie said
I was dreaming I was sleepin’ in Rosie’s bed

The reality another.  Of course, thinking can lead to dreaming. Rosie’s words stirred up in the mind can jingle a dream that puts the dreamer smack dab in her bed.  The voice and the physical strange bed partners? Not in this song where staying one day too long can make you hear and dream things that later on you might say, that was the one thing I did wrong.
Odysseus knows a thing or two about staying too long.  The day he does so with the Sun-god he falls asleep (dreaming of Circe? Calypso?) and while he does, his men eat the Sun-god’s sacred cows as depicted in this painting by Johannus Stradanus:

Mississippi” ends with the message, “You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.” Odysseus’ men pay for their forbidden act with their lives, Odysseus for his sleep with the loss of his men.  Yes, you can go back but not all the way back, as you thought of maybe dreamed.  Dreams do affect reality, as do rhymes about saying and sleeping.

Lot of “he said” and “she did” in “Standing in the Doorway.”  She (is it a she, is the speaker a he?) done left him in the doorway crying, but when it comes down to it (literally down the end of the song), the said rhyme says it all:
I see nothing to be gained by any explanation
There are no words that need to be said
You left me standing in the doorway crying
Blues wrapped around my head

Yes, nothing to say, just tears and blues.  And an excellent blues tune it is ending with nothing to say, but plenty to sing, not to say, but a need to sing the blues. Dylan singing, those blues, this song at Wembley, 2000 (no visual–“the light in this place is so bad”?):
Christopher Ricks hands us over eight pages on “Handy Dandy” in his chapter that focuses on Envy in Dylan’s Visions of Sin. He gives attention to the song linking him and Michael Gray to how they both find the song terrific.  Ricks distinguishes himself from Gray in how he sees the song as scary, and he ties what he calls the “You’ll say / He’ll say routine” in at as part of the fright, “as if someone is being instructed in a code of behavior.”  This makes the “said“/”dead” rhyme ominous, threading the motif of threat through the song:

You say, “What are ya made of?”
He says, “Can you repeat what you said?”
You’ll say, “What are you afraid of?”
He’ll say, “Nothin’! Neither ’live nor dead.”

Yes, as Ricks notes, what’s neither live nor dead is money, HD is made of money, and probably drug money, i.e. the candy that he’s just like with sugar (on top? over the top?).

Ricks refers the game handy-dandy, defined the OED as “A children’s game in which a small object is shaken between the hands by one of the players, and, the hands being suddenly closed, the other player is required to guess in which hand the object remains.”  The expression has been used to mean “change of places, alternately, in rapid alternation.”   Sounds a little like Dylan himself.  Is Dylan the “hand-dandy” in the song?  Here are a couple of turn of the century dandies:
Dylan can look rather dandy himself:
In “Ugliest Girl In The World” “said” diverts attention away from bed, which might be good, especially if who’s lying in the bed is the ugliest girl in the world:
The woman that I love she got two flat feet
Her knees knock together walking down the street
She cracks her knuckles and she snores in bed
She ain’t much to look at but like I said

What Dylan has already said is the bridge, which gets sung four times in the song; after this verse it appears again for the third time:
You know I love her
Yeah I love her
I’m in love with the Ugliest Girl in the World

At the end of the verse ending with the “bed”/”said” rhyme completed is the image of a snoring woman, who we also learn in this verse has two flat feet (not good for a poem/song either), has a knee-knocking walk, and cracks her knuckles.  So her ugliness is not relegated to her looks; sounds matter in Dylan’s depiction of ugly.  And sounds matter with the rhyme that takes us from the image of the snoring woman to the bridge, “but like I said,” which brings us to “love,” three times in each chorus.  Image of ugly, sound of ugly, rhyme, love.  Vintage Dylan!
Another poet has something to say about an ugly woman, Shakespeare in his sonnet 130:
Ricks makes a fuss about “lines” in “Brownsville Girl.” “[M]uch is made of lines in this song,” he says.  And, of course, songs/poems are made up of lines, as Ricks acknowledges.  Dylan is hip to being at the end of the line or over the line as themes but also as phrases that pertain and bring attention to the lines on the page, which Dylan puts in the air when he sings them.  “She studied the lines of my face” is a famous line of Dylan’s, and aren’t the lines of a song as personal as a songwriter’s/poet’s face?  Be that all as it may, “said” is what matters on this page, and it s what’s over the line in “Brownsville Girl,” appearing 9 times to “line”‘s mere 3.
I recently tweeted that when I listen tom “Brownsville Girl” I feel like I’m at a pub overhearing Bob conversing with the bartender.  What we remember most about “Brownsville Girl” is the unique conversational prose he pours into it.  But there’s a great deal of rhyming in it, end of the line ones where we expect rhymes.  And good ones, too, some over the line, over the top:  “soft”/”off,” “soul”/”control,” “curls”/”world.”
said” never ends a line, but it appears so often that it smacks of internal rhyming, perhaps to keep the prose in line; it’s a poem Dylan seems to want to remind us with the end of the line rhymes.  When the prose gets going, “said” seems to reign it in.  This verse is a good example:

She said, “Welcome to the land of the living dead”
You could tell she was so broken hearted
She said, “Even the swap meets around here are getting pretty corrupt”


Prose and poetry battling it out–always worth eavesdropping on that (from The Essential, with lyrics at the bottom, line by line:

“Brownsville Girl”


When Dylan was recently accused of sucking up to Chinese authority by agreeing to have his playlist censored there, included in the songs he performed was “Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking.”  The title alone suggests diversion from mind control.  Dylan himself had this to say about the episode:

“As far as censorship goes, the Chinese government had asked for the names of the songs that I would be playing. There’s no logical answer to that, so we sent them the set lists from the previous 3 months. If there were any songs, verses or lines censored, nobody ever told me about it and we played all the songs that we intended to play.”

My bet is that if Dylan was forced not to play a song he would either have not performed or would have just changed the lyrics of accepted songs to sing what he wanted to anyway.

Speaking of lyric changes, that’s what happened in 2003 to “Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking,” which Michael Gray calls a duet version of with Mavis Staples as “ferocious” “[pacing] menacingly between the spiritual and secular worlds.”

Missing from the 2003 version is the stanza with “said.”  “said” in the 1979 original creates both internal rhyme and the presence of “Jesus” with the sounds in his name Jeee . . . suuus”:

Jesus said, “Be ready
For you know not the hour in which I come”
Jesus said, “Be ready
For you know not the hour in which I come”
He said, “He who is not for Me is against Me”
Just so you know where He’s coming from

e and s sounds abound, nothing much against those sounds in this verse.  Jesus is coming from those sounds, watch out for them.

This verse is replaced in the 2003 version with a different Jesus presence:

Jesus is calling, He’s coming back to gather up his jewels
Jesus is calling, He’s coming back to gather up his jewels
We living by the golden rule, whoever got the gold rules

Here’s the ferocious 2003 version with Mavis, including dialogue between them:


Who gets to say what in “Hurricane” is lopsided.  Bello and Bradley speak one time, but the cops and the D.A 4.  Hurricane is silenced, a fitting gag on a man depicted in the song as a victim of a system Dylan is ashamed of:
Couldn’t help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
Where justice is a game.
The word “said” in the fourth verse first appears in a line that begins a rhyme and then three lines later finishes a rhyme:
Alfred Bello had a partner and he had a rap for the cops
Him and Arthur Dexter Bradley were just out prowlin’ around
He said, “I saw two men runnin’ out, they looked like middleweights
They jumped into a white car with out-of-state plates”
And Miss Patty Valentine just nodded her head
Cop said, “Wait a minute, boys, this one’s not dead”
I’ve always loved the way Dylan sings that last line.  Perhaps an underrated quality of Dylan’s singing is how well he voices the words of characters in his songs.
Dylan singing “Hurricane” live, 1975 at Madison Square Garden:
“I said” and “Isis” work well together in “Isis.”  In the next to last verse there’s a barrage of “she saids” and I saids“:

She said, “Where ya been?” I said, “No place special”
She said, “You look different.” I said, “Well, not quite”
She said, “You been gone.” I said, “That’s only natural”
She said, “You gonna stay?” I said, “Yeah, I jes might”

and yes this is dialogue, not poetry, at least we read it that way.  The sound of it though keeps “Isis” alive throughout the song, as in the last verse,

Isis, oh, Isis, you mystical child
What drives me to you is what drives me insane
I still can remember the way that you smiled
On the fifth day of May in the drizzlin’ rain

s’s and i’s banging together and reverberating in memorable ways.

said” also appears though at the end of a line finishing the rhyme with “wed” in verse 6:

How she told me that one day we would meet up again
And things would be different the next time we wed
If I only could hang on and just be her friend
I still can’t remember all the best things she said

“again” and “friend” don’t rhyme no matter how hard you try, but “wed”/”said” rhymes no matter how you say it.  Yet, “again” looks like it has a better shot at rhyming with “said,” even a better chance as “Isis” rhyming with “I said.”  But it doesn’t.  Don’t trust your eyes, Dylan seems to be saying, trust the sound, trust what you hear, trust going to “the wild unknown country where [you can] not go wrong.” Trust a voice like this singing Isis in 1975, yes, it IS NECESSARY!!:


5 “saids” are sung in “Lily, Rosemary, And The Jack of Hearts,” just enough for a hand of poker.  The first “said,” beginning the second verse, comes up aces with the only rhyming “said” in the lyrics”

He moved across the mirrored room, “Set it up for everyone,” he said
Then everyone commenced to do what they were doin’ before he turned their heads

The other 4 “saids” are found in the middle of verses, the second setting up what the backstage manager says, the third what Lily says, the fourth what legacy or rumor says, and the fifth what a sign says.As Ricks says, this song is the “world of the Western,” where you better mean what you say, like when in a duel, as in this one with Wyatt Earp at the OK Corral, for you Tombstone fans:***********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************”said” heralds a nice “head”/”instead” rhyme in the fourth verse of “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat“:Well, I asked the doctor if I could see you
It’s bad for your health, he said
Yes, I disobeyed his orders
I came to see you
But I found him there instead
You know, I don’t mind him cheatin’ on me
But I sure wish he’d take that off his head
Your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat

It’s a doctor who is quoted, and by the end of the verse he’s wearing the hat, which bothers the speaker, not the being cheated on, but that he’s wearing the hat.  Hilarious, the image and the absurd response.
According to, Dylan has sung the song live 534 times.  I find that lopsided, like “a mattress balances/On a bottle of wine.”  Why has this song gotten so much attention from Bob?  Maybe because he gets a kick out of it himself.  Bob’s humor is underrated.

One of the 534:
I write this on Bob Dylan’s 72nd birthday.  Bob was 24 when “From a Buick 6” was released in on Highway 61 Revisited.  It’s the fourth cut on a brilliant, landmark album that set him free from the expectations the folk community placed on him and defined the mark he would make on the sixties and his generation.  How fitting that the album appeared right smack dab in the middle of the 1960’s.  Arguably, it is the counter-culture epicenter with a distinct sound never achieved before and never to be again.
The “said” rhyme in “Buick 6” is a cascading one, with three words echoing the the “ed” sound in the song’s last stanza:
Well, you know I need a steam shovel mama to keep away the dead
I need a dump truck mama to unload my head
She brings me everything and more, and just like I said
Well, if I go down dyin’, you know she bound to put a blanket on my bed.
Each stanza has a rhyming word with the chorus’s “bed,” but the last stanza with  “said” is the only one with two words rhyming with it, “dead” and “said.”  The song ends with a reminder the the chorus has been sung before, “just like I said . . .” Choruses are reinforced in songs via repetition; here “said” is used for more reinforcement . . . remember what I said.
Bob has not gone “down dyin” yet; but if he does, well just like he said . . . Today though we celebrate his birth. Happy Birthday, Bob. Here’s to all those junkyard angels.  Play this loud, very loud in his honor:
Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream” is a rollicking zany frolic, with the word “said” used 15 times. The one it’s used in rhyme, repetition of the word aside, is with the -ed sound in “exploded”:
I went into a restaurant
Lookin’ for the cook
I told them I was the editor
Of a famous etiquette book
The waitress he was handsome
He wore a powder blue cape
I ordered some suzette, I said
“Could you please make that crepe”
Just then the whole kitchen exploded
From boilin’ fat
Food was flying everywhere
And I left without my hat

For over five decades much has exploded when Bob Dylan says something–it’s clever to have a rhyme be the trigger to one here.  But the trigger is actually identified as “boilin fat.”  It’s just a coincidence that when the speaker spoke the explosion happened.  But we can take what we gather from coincidence, and I rather believe that words, spoken or written, have caused more explosions than fat throughout history.
Speaking of words, there’s lots of them in “115th Dream,” 774 to be exact.  Here are all of them sung by Bob Live In New York in 1988:
Man on the Street” is  a poignant piece, one that makes you stop and think about the lives of the less fortunate.  It is Woody Guthrie-esque in it what it forces us to look at and in its slice of life depiction of injustice.  The “said“/”dead” rhyme comes from the mouth of an insensitive police officer whose beat perhaps has numbed him to scenes like this that maybe have been too numerous for his humanity to be maintained:
Well, the p’liceman come and he looked around,
“Get up, old man, or I’m a-takin’ you down.”
He jabbed him once with his billy club
And the old man then rolled off the curb.Well, he jabbed him again and loudly said,
“Call the wagon; this man is dead.”
The wagon come, they loaded him in,
I never saw the man again.
The policeman pronounces the man dead. What he said announces a death, the rhyme uniting the two contextually.  Below is the outtake from Dylan’s bootleg; listen closely to how Dylan stretches out the word “dead,” just enough to underscore the harsh reality and the detachment present from both the policeman and the singer (though the singer somehow knows “he never done wrong”).
Turns out who killed Davey Moore is a really good question–I mean really good–the kind that gets to the very fabric of how a society is woven.  The song is about accountability–and all the accused Dylan parades through it are in denial, refusing “to think ill of [themselves]” as Christopher Ricks asserts.  The manager even blames the victim, the moment where the “said” rhyme sits:

“Not me,” says his manager
Puffing on a big cigar
“It’s hard to say, it’s hard to tell
I always thought that he was well
It’s too bad for his wife an’ kids he’s dead
But if he was sick, he should’ve said
It wasn’t me that made him fall
No, you can’t blame me at all”

said‘/”dead” brings back the voice of the dead–he should’ve said, he, the dead that is.  Well, Dylan speaks for the dead in this song, too.  And we are all left to wonder who killed him, or are we, when after all it was you and me.

Who Killed Davey Moore” live from the bootleg series: