“If You See Her, Say Hello” (1974)

Robert Shelton senses a “sea-wave rhythm in  “If You See Her, Say Hello.” It is structured with rhyming couplets from beginning to end sung by Dylan with an ebb and flow. Most of the rhymes are simple, words we have heard rhymed before. The rhyming I think fits the simple request of Hey, if you see her, say hello, just like anyone might say to someone we know who might see someone we know. When it’s someone we loved or still love such a request becomes strained–it doesn’t fit what we really feel or really want to say, so much more to say than just hello. The song has some strained rhymes, “Tangier”/”hear,” “heart”/”apart,” “rounds”/”town,” and my favorite, “off”/”soft.”

In any essay called “The Power of Love,” Michael Dorris said about love that once caught in its thrall, once in you can never really get out: “we are permanently in that love’s thrall, caught in its wake, a part of its flow” (the Shelton sea-wave again). Dylan captures the staying power of love in “If You See Her, Say Hello,” maybe more than in any of his songs.  And it makes sense that “still”, as in always, would make a prominent appearance in a rhyming role.  This happens in verse two:

We had a falling-out, like lovers often will
And to think of how she left that night, it still brings me a chill
And though our separation, it pierced me to the heart
She still lives inside of me, we’ve never been apart

The “will”/”still” rhyme sounds like a perfect end rhyme, but the second line extends bringing “chill” in at the end to shift “still” into an internal rhyme position.  Later, “still” still maintains sound prominence internally with the assonance “still lives inside.”  What brings a chill is how they departed, but she has never left, still living inside of him, “permanently in that love’s thrall.”

The song, like the whole album, is worth the chill found in the blood spilled on every track.  I love this version of the song, from the New York sessions; especially chilling is the added line, “If you’re making love to her, kiss her for the kid.”  Blood indeed in the tracks of this album . . .  caught in its thrall I am: