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Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts

(Bob Dylan)

From the album: Blood On The Tracks (1975)

 4.2/5 (250 votes)

8 comments

Rob My interpretation of Lily's obvious knowledge of and allusion to the "brand new coat of paint" on the wall is that she is aware of the bank heist in progress from the song's start, "the drillin' in the wall". It is Rosemary who "was lookin' to do just one good deed before she died". I figure Rosemary killed Big Jim to help enable Lily escape with the Jack of Hearts, upon whom her one good deed was riding. And that murder is why Rosemary's being hanged at the end of the song. Lily may well have known about Rosemary's complicity since she (Lily) thinks about her in the last verse. What's mysterious to me is whose Colt revolver "clicked", which I understand to mean it misfired; so the pen-knife in Jim's back was a plan B or improvisation after the gun did not go off. It could be one of Jack of Hearts' gang members, or Jack himself or Lily... Nov 21, 2014
Robert Dishaw If I had the chance to ask Bob Dylan one question, it would be this...."If I was tasked with setting a table for Lily, Rosemary, Big Jim and the Jack of Hearts, how many place settings would I need?" I believe the answer would be two. LRATJOH is a commentary of the lives of The Jack of Hearts, and Rosemary-who play the parts of Big Jim and Lily in a stage play.I think this for many reasons, but I believe the most telling line in the song is, "Be careful not to touch the wall, there's a brand new coat of paint." this is something said between stage actors to remind them that the walls are not walls but set pieces that can be easily knocked over. There could also be something rather Dylan-esque going on in the characteristics of the characters portrayed in that he may blur the lines between person and character, and use the presence of all 4 characters in the same room as metaphor or misdirection. Great song, regardless of the accuracy of my opinion. Jul 31, 2014
Nelson This is one of my most special BD songs. And it has so much more feeling and meaning when you listen to it with the words in front of you - sacrilege I hear some of you say but it makes the ballad so much more meaningful. Please, try it and enjoy!! Great site, by the way!! Jul 03, 2014
David Dixon I don't know if this song is about anything more than telling a clever story, but I find it a delight. I agree that its tone does not match well with the rest of the album, but I just love this song. Like many Dylan songs, it contains elements that are difficult to fit into the puzzle, but it tells a more linear story than Bob had told since his early-60s story songs. Of course, I'd still like to know if there's any special significance to the name of the central character being a playing card (why a jack; why not a joker or a king?). I frequently push "repeat" to play this song an extra time when I'm listening to Blood on the Tracks. Dec 20, 2007
shazbaby I love this one, its so jaunty but with a dark thread running through it. And i love the clever use of the lyrics Jul 01, 2006
Isis Sounds best when you're going down a country road on a sunny day with the windows down and the wind in in your face. Mar 15, 2006
ian somewhat of a misfit in terms of the albums overaall tone.oh but for blind willie.... Mar 03, 2006
Dylan What's so incredible about the narrative of this song, is that it leaves holes for the listener to figure out what happenned. And when you think you've figured it out, it is a great moment. Jul 31, 2005
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Related songs & albums

All songs on Blood On The Tracks
Track Song
1 Tangled Up in Blue (Bob Dylan)
2 Simple Twist of Fate (Bob Dylan)
3 You're a Big Girl Now (Bob Dylan)
4 Idiot Wind (Bob Dylan)
5 You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (Bob Dylan)
6 Meet Me In The Morning (Bob Dylan)
7 Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts (Bob Dylan)
8 If You See Her, Say Hello (Bob Dylan)
9 Shelter from the Storm (Bob Dylan)
10 Buckets Of Rain (Bob Dylan)
Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts appears on these albums
Year Album
1975 Blood On The Tracks
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