Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts

Lyrics: Bob Dylan
Music: Bob Dylan

A Bob Dylan song covered by Robert Hunter in 1997 and by Phil Lesh & Friends in 2012..

The festival was over, the boys were all planning for a fall
The cabaret was quiet, all except for the drilling in the wall
The curfew had been lifted and the gambling wheel shut down
Anyone with any sense already had left town
He was standing in the corner looking 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 doing before he turned their head
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 back to the corner, face down like the Jack of Hearts

Backstage the girls were playing five-card stud beside the stairs
Lily had two queens, she was hoping for a third to match her pair
Outside the streets were filling up, the window was open wide
A gentle breeze was blowing, 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 looking so dandy and so fine
With his bodyguards and silver cane and every hair in place
He took whatever he wanted 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 rode her carriage into town
She entered through the side door looking like a queen without a crown
She batted her false eyelashes and whispered in Jim's ear
Sorry, darling, that I'm late, but he didn't seem to hear
He was staring into space over at the Jack of Hearts

I know I've seen that face before, Big Jim was thinking 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
Staring 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 from every walk of life which took her everywhere
But she'd never met anyone quite like the Jack of Hearts

The hanging judge came in unnoticed and was being wined and dined
The sound of the drilling in the wall kept up but nobody paid it any mind
It was known all around that Lily had Big Jim's ring
And nothing would ever come between Lily and the king
Nothing ever would except maybe the Jack of Hearts

Rosemary started drinking hard and watching her reflection in the knife
She was tired of the attention, tired of playing the role of Big Jim's wife
She had done a lot of bad things, even once tried suicide
She wanted to do just one good deed before she died
She was gazing to the future, riding on the Jack of Hearts

Lily took her dress off and buried it away
Has your luck run out, she laughed at him, 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 looking like a saint
Down the hallway footsteps were coming for the Jack of Hearts

The backstage manager was pacing all around his chair
There's something funny going on, he said, I can just feel it in the air
He went to find the hanging judge, but the hanging judge was drunk
The leading actor hurried by in the costume of a monk
There was no actor anywhere better than the Jack of Hearts

No one knows the circumstance, but they say that it happened pretty quick
The dressing room door burst open and a Colt revolver clicked
And Big Jim was standing there, you couldn't say surprised
Rosemary right beside him, steady in her eyes
She was with Big Jim but she was leaning to the Jack of Hearts

Two doors down, the boys finally made it through the wall
They 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 hanging day, the sky was overcast and black
Big Jim lay covered up, killed by a penknife in the back
Rosemary on the gallows, she didn't even blink
The hanging judge was sober, he hadn't had a drink
The only person on the scene missing was the Jack of Heart

The cabaret was closed, a sign said shut down for repair
Lily had already taken all of the dye out of her hair
She was thinking about her father, who she very rarely saw
Thinking about Rosemary and she was thinking about the law
But, most of all she was thinking about the Jack of Hearts
Most of all she was thinking about the Jack of Hearts


Futher Information
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography

 


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