Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts By Bob Dylan

Folk rock singer-songwriter Bob Dylan was born as Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota. While attending college, he began performing folk and country songs, taking the name "Bob Dylan."

Classic Rock song of 1975


The song is occupied by multiple archaic characters, including the enigmatic bank robber, "Jack of Hearts." This charming rogue seduces two women, "Lily" and "Rosemary," both of whom are romantically linked to "Big Jim," the wealthiest, greediest man in town. Big Jim is ultimately murdered by Rosemary, who is subsequently hung for her crime. Meanwhile, Jack of Hearts escapes into the night having accomplished his robbery, leaving Lily alone to ponder the events that have taken place.

Some fans have suggested Jack of Hearts is an embodiment of our closet criminal desires. Others argue Lily, Rosemary and Jack of Hearts are three facets of one individual and that the song therefore represents the struggle we have with social identity. Some claim gambling metaphors are used to represent abstract ideas of coincidence and fate. Others think the song is criticizing justice systems. Then there are a select few fans who think it's just a simple song about a simple bank robbery!


"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"

The story is a combination of two typical plots. One is the arrival of an old lover (the "Jack of Hearts" character) into a volatile situation (a love triangle between the richest man of the town—Big Jim—his mistress, Rosemary and a showgirl, perhaps a prostitute, named Lily with whom he's been "spending time").

"Lily called another bet and drew up the Jack of Hearts" which foreshadowed the Jack of Hearts arrival.

("The door to the dressing room burst open and a cold revolver clicked") Somebody's got a gun.

("Big Jim lay covered up, killed by a penknife in the back and Rosemary on the gallows, she didn't even blink") Rosemary has a knife.

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