Bob Dylan

If You See Her, Say Hello

Song Review by

From Bob Dylan's mid-'70s masterwork, Blood on the Tracks, "If You See Her, Say Hello" is one of the most heartbreaking tracks amidst an album of intensely personal music. Famous for his protest songs and his stream-of-consciousness, phrase-bending lyrics, Dylan turned to a more direct style during this period, surveying the personal wreckage left in the wake of the tumultuous 1960s. The music for "If You See Her, Say Hello" seems to exist merely to create the proper backdrop for the singer's tale of a bitter breakup. Consisting of a bed of organ notes, mandolin, gently picked acoustic guitars, and a ticking hi-hat cymbal to keep time, the song is really just a chord progression that cycles over and over, without any real verse-chorus distinction. The focus weighs heavily on the lyrics. The narrator is utterly crushed and embittered by the loss of his lover: "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." Dylan brilliantly paints a picture of a man belittled, wallowing in self-pity, stuck replaying the past while imagining his love out in the world: "She might be in Tangiers/She left here last early spring/Is living there I hear." He humbly asks for news of her activities, but does not want to intrude, taking all his strength to contain his yearning and respect her decision to leave: "If you get close to her/Kiss her once for me/Always have respected her for doin' what she did/And getting free/Though the bitter taste still lingers on/From the night I tried to make her stay." All through the song, the lyrics are unrelenting. The narrator constantly questions his past, frequently alluding to his wandering in an aimless circle of misery: "And I hear her name here and there/As I go from town to town/And I've never gotten used to it/I've just learned to turn it off/Either I'm too sensitive/Or else I'm getting soft." By the end, his self-esteem is reduced to almost nothing: "If she's passing back this way/I'm not that hard to find/Tell her she can look me up/If she's got the time." With "If You See Her, Say Hello" and many of the songs from Blood on the Tracks, Dylan showed that his tremendous skills could be turned inward, mining personal territory with devastatingly sharp precision.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Blood on the Tracks 1975 Columbia / Legacy 4:47
The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991 1991 Columbia / Sony Music Distribution 3:45
The Genuine Bootleg Series, Take 2 1996
No Image 1997 Columbia / Columbus
Masterpieces 1998 Columbia 4:46
No Image 2001 Sony Music Distribution / Columbia 4:49
Blonde on Blonde/Blood on the Tracks/Time Out of Mind 2001 Legacy / Sony Music Distribution 4:49
Bob Dylan [Limited Edition Hybrid SACD Set] 2003 Legacy 4:47
The Collection, Vol. 3: Blonde on Blonde/Blood on the Tracks/Infidels 2005 Legacy / Columbia 4:47
Temptation: Music From The Showtime Series Californication 2007
Original Soundtrack
ABKCO Records 4:47
The Complete Album Collection, Vol. 1 2013 Columbia Records / Sony Music 4:49
More Blood, More Tracks: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 14 2018 Columbia Records / Legacy / Sony CMG / Sony Music 3:58