Bob Dylan co-writes a song with William Shakespeare: Another exclusive Untold interview


By Larry Fyffe

Untold: So tell us, Bob, about the conservation you say you had with William Shakespeare.

Bob: Well, I was in Mobile one time, guitar in hand, when I bumped into this fellow wearing pointed shoes and bells; he was talkin’ to a dark-eyed French girl, and they invited me up to their room.

Untold: Did you know them?

Bob: No, but the place looked familiar to me. I know I musta stayed there before.

Untold: What did you three talk about?

Bob: Well, the guy says right out of the blue, “We better talk this over – tell ol’ Bill what’s been on your mind, Bob.”  So I says back to him, “Well, I got this tune for a new song in my head, but the lyrics are givin’ me lots of trouble.” He says, maybe he can help. I tell him the only line I’ve got so far: “Let’s call it a day, go on our separate way”. The guy leans back in his chair for a moment and then he says:

Let’s call it a day, go on our separate way
Thou mayst call thine when thou from youth convertest
Herein lives wisdom, beauty, and increase
Without this, folly, age, and cold decay

So I strum a few chords, and try out the lyrics; he asks, ‘How’d you like the rhyme?’ I say, ‘OK, but maybe some strobe lights would work well here ….let’s try somethin’ a little brighter this time.”

And right off Ol’ Bill comes up with:

Let’s call it a day, go on our separate way
Then the conceit of this inconstant stay
Sets you most rich in your youth before my sight
Where wasteful time debateth with decay

Well, the guys really tryin’ to be helpful, and I don’t wanna hurt his feelings none, so I ask Ol’ Bill to try another verse. He starts snappin’ his fingers, and rap singin’:

Let’s call it a day, and go on our separate way
But wherefore do not you a mightier way
Make war upon this bloody tyrant, Time
And fortify yourself in your decay

I strum my guitar, and sing the words back to him – Ol’ Bill says he likes it. Things are gettin’ better; the French gal is sittin’ on my lap….I say, ‘Don’t stop now’, and Ol’ Bill’s justa a-blastin’ and singin’ away:

Let’s call it a day, and go on our separate way
So I, for fear of trust, forget to say
The perfect ceremony of love’s rite
And in mine own lover’s strength seem to decay

Well, the French gal she’s passin’ out more drinks, and rainy day cigarettes; I’m a-strummin’, and Ol’ Bill’s a-hummin – we’re really startin’ to cook:

Let’s call it a day, and go on our separate way
Increasing store with loss, and loss with store
When I have seen such interchange of state
Or state itself confounded to decay

The three of us are laughin’, and Bill comes up with another one:

Let’s call it a day, and go on our separate way
When I perhaps compounded with clay
Do not as much as my poor name rehearse
But let your love even with my life decay

And then another verse that I kinda like:

Let’s call it a day, and go on our separate way
Rise resty Muse, my love’s sweet face survey
If time have any wrinkle graven there
If any, be a satire to decay

Untold: Bob you think that it was William Shakespeare you were talking to that day?

Bob: Well, I woke up the next mornin’ with frog toes and owlet wings inside my socks; l remember grabbin’ a written-down verse that all three of us liked, and me and the French gal headin’ out the door for Memphis. Ol’ Bill stayed behind – said somethin’ about havin’ to get back to ‘The Globe’.

And me and the dark-haired lady were singin’ in the rain:

Situation just gonna get rougher
Why do we needlessly suffer?
Let’s call it a day, go our separate way
Before we decay
(Bob Dylan: We Better Talk This Over)

What else is on the site

You’ll find an index to our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.

The index to the 500+ Dylan compositions reviewed is now on a new page of its own.  You will find it here.  It contains reviews of every Dylan composition that we can find a recording of – if you know of anything we have missed please do write in.

We also have a discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook.  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

And please do note   The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, is starting to link back to our reviews


  1. On is way out from the interview Dylan mentioned that Ol’ Bill shouted ot the window when he and the French girl were leaving:

    “Let’s call it a day, and go on our separate way
    He of tall building and of goodly pride
    Then if he thrive and I be cast away
    The worst wast this, my love was my decay”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *