Lily, Rosemary and The Jack of Hearts – Bob Dylan

Lily, Rosemary and The Jack of Hearts - Bob Dylan

Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts“, is a song by Bob Dylan released on the 1975 album Blood on the Tracks, known for its complex plot and long running time. It is one of five songs on Blood on the Tracks that Dylan initially recorded in New York City in September 1974 and then re-recorded in Minneapolis in December that year; the later recording became the album track.

There have been two screenplays written based on the song: one by John Kaye and commissioned by Dylan, and another written by James Byron.[1] Neither screenplay ever became a film.

According to his official website, Dylan has played the song live only once on May 25, 1976, in Salt Lake City.

Hearing the lyrics read to her by Dylan just after they had been written is thought to be the inspiration for the 1975 Joan Baez song “Diamonds & Rust”, which is based on her and Dylan’s own relationship ten years earlier.

 

Bob Dylan –  Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts

JOAN BAEZ ~ Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts

REVIEW

 

By Tony Attwood

The song is upbeat, and the organist makes mistakes (playing I-IV at the end of the harmonica solo in the intro before Dylan starts singing instead of holding the tonic, forgetting to play during the “Staring at the butterfly” line)…   Yet he has the simplest of parts to play – so why wasn’t it re-recorded or over dubbed?  (Maybe he just never could get it right).

Dylan’s voice on the other hand is absolutely spot on for the song.  The chords are primarily I, IV, and V, there’s a nice descending bass line at the end, and the bass player is perfection – ok it is not a complex bass line but it requires tenacity and determination to keep going through this length of song, and he delivers.

So, what to make of it all?

The story almost makes sense but no, it doesn’t.  Every time you try to make it mean something it slips through your hands and means something else.

read more : https://bob-dylan.org.uk/archives/405

 

 

Lyrics:
The festival was over and the boys were all plannin’ for a fall
The cabaret was quiet except for the drillin’ in the wall

The curfew had been lifted and the gamblin’ wheel shut down
Anyone with any sense had already left town
He was standin’ in the doorway lookin’ like the Jack of Hearts

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

Then he walked up to a stranger and he asked him with a grin
“Could you kindly tell me, friend, what time the show begins?”
Then he moved into the corner, face down like the Jack of Hearts

Backstage the girls were playin’ five-card stud by the stairs
Lily had two queens, she was hopin’ for a third to match her pair

Outside the streets were fillin’ up, the window was open wide
A gentle breeze was blowin’, you could feel it from inside
Lily called another bet and drew up the Jack of Hearts

Big Jim was no one’s fool, he owned the town’s only diamond mine
He made his usual entrance lookin’ so dandy and so fine

With his bodyguards and silver cane and every hair in place
He took whatever he wanted to and he laid it all to waste
But his bodyguards and silver cane were no match for the Jack of Hearts

Rosemary combed her hair and took a carriage into town
She slipped in through the side door lookin’ like a queen without a crown

She fluttered her false eyelashes and whispered in his ear
“Sorry, darlin’, that I’m late” but he didn’t seem to hear
He was starin’ into space over at the Jack of Hearts

“I know I’ve seen that face before,” Big Jim was thinkin’ to himself
“Maybe down in Mexico or a picture up on somebody’s shelf

But then the crowd began to stamp their feet and the house lights did dim
And in the darkness of the room there was only Jim and him
Starin’ at the butterfly who just drew the Jack of Hearts

Lily was a princess, she was fair-skinned and precious as a child
She did whatever she had to do
She had that certain flash every time she smiled

She’d come away from a broken home, had lots of strange affairs
With men in every walk of life which took her everywhere
But she’d never met anyone quite like the Jack of Hearts

The hangin’ judge came in unnoticed and was being wined and dined
The drillin’ in the wall kept up but no one seemed to pay it any mind

It was known all around that Lily had Jim’s ring
And nothing would ever come between Lily and the king
No, nothin’ ever would except maybe the Jack of Hearts

Rosemary started drinkin’ hard and seein’ her reflection in the knife
She was tired of the attention, tired of playin’ the role of Big Jim’s wife

She had done a lot of bad things, even once tried suicide
Was lookin’ to do just one good deed before she died
She was gazin’ to the future, riding on the Jack of Hearts

Lily took her dress off, buried it away
“Has your luck run out?” she laughed at him
“Well, I guess you must have known it would someday”

“Be careful not to touch the wall, there’s a brand-new coat of paint
I’m glad to see you’re still alive, you’re lookin’ like a saint”
Down the hallway footsteps were comin’ for the Jack of Hearts

The backstage manager was pacing all around by his chair
“There’s something funny going on” he said
“I can just feel it in the air”

He went to get the hangin’ judge, but the hangin’ judge was drunk
As the leading actor hurried by in the costume of a monk
There was no actor anywhere better than the Jack of Hearts

No one knew the circumstance
But they say that it happened pretty quick
The door to the dressing room burst open and a cold revolver clicked

And Big Jim was standin’ there, ya couldn’t say surprised
Rosemary right beside him, steady in her eyes
She was with Big Jim but she was leanin’ to the Jack of Hearts

Two doors down, the boys finally made it through the wall
And cleaned out the bank safe
It’s said that they got off with quite a haul

In the darkness by the riverbed they waited on the ground
For one more member who had business back in town
But they couldn’t go no further without the Jack of Hearts

The next day was hangin’ day, the sky was overcast and black
Big Jim lay covered up, killed by a penknife in the back

And Rosemary on the gallows, she didn’t even blink
The hangin’ judge was sober, he hadn’t had a drink
The only person on the scene missin’ was the Jack of Hearts

The cabaret was empty now, a sign said, “Closed for repair”
Lily had already taken all of the dye out of her hair

She was thinkin’ ’bout her father, who she very rarely saw
Thinkin’ ’bout Rosemary and thinkin’ about the law
But most of all she was thinkin’ ’bout the Jack of Hearts…….

 

source : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lily,_Rosemary_and_the_Jack_of_Hearts

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