Lily Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts
Tom Russell Lyrics


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The festival was over 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 washed her face took her dress off and 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

Lily's arms were locked around the man that she dearly loved to touch
She forgot all about the man she couldn't stand
Who hounded her so much
"I've missed you so" she said to him and he felt she was sincere
But just beyond the door he felt jealousy and fear
Just another night in the life of 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

Overall Meaning

The lyrics to Tom Russell's song Lily Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts tell a tale of a complicated love triangle involving the Jack of Hearts, a mysterious and alluring man who manages to captivate and manipulate the other characters in the story. He walks into a cabaret where he begins to orchestrate the unfolding of events, attracting the attention of Lily, who is romantically linked to Big Jim, the powerful and wealthy diamond mine owner who seems always to get his way. The story of the Jack of Hearts is part Western, part crime, and part epic as it slowly builds to its final tragic end.


The song's lyrics are complex and require careful interpretation to truly appreciate their meaning fully. It is said to be inspired by the poetry of Bob Dylan as well as the dramatic western stories of the Wild West. As the story unfolds, it is clear that the Jack of Hearts is a master manipulator with a hidden agenda but even after the song is over, the mystery surrounding his character remains. The lyrics follow a non-linear narrative structure and are filled with symbolism that requires careful interpretation. The song's themes revolve around love, betrayal, power, and the interplay of fate in human affairs.


Line by Line Meaning

The festival was over the boys were all plannin' for a fall
The excitement had died down and the troublemakers were anticipating a downfall.


The cabaret was quiet except for the drillin' in the wall
The cabaret was empty except for the suspicious noises coming from the hidden activities within.


The curfew had been lifted and the gamblin' wheel shut down
The restrictions were lifted, but the opportunity for gambling was no longer available.


Anyone with any sense had already left town
Those who were wise had already departed the town.


He was standin' in the doorway lookin' like the Jack of Hearts
He stood in the entrance, resembling the deceptive and influential figure of the Jack of Hearts.


He moved across the mirrored room
He gracefully walked through the room filled with reflections.


"Set it up for everyone", he said
"Prepare it for all to witness", he declared.


Then everyone commenced to do
Then everyone began to engage in their respective activities.


What they were doin' before he turned their heads
They resumed their previous actions that had been interrupted by his arrival.


Then he walked up to a stranger and he asked him with a grin
Then he approached an unfamiliar person and inquired with a mischievous smile.


"Could you kindly tell me friend what time the show begins?"
"Would you be so kind as to inform me, my friend, when the performance commences?"


Then he moved into the corner face down like the Jack of Hearts
Then he positioned himself inconspicuously in the corner, adopting a pose reminiscent of the defeated Jack of Hearts.


Backstage the girls were playin' five-card stud by the stairs
Behind the scenes, the girls were engaging in a game of five-card stud near the staircase.


Lily had two queens she was hopin' for a third to match her pair
Lily had two queens and she wished for another queen to complete her set.


Outside the streets were fillin' up the window was open wide
Outside, the streets were becoming crowded and the window was wide open.


A gentle breeze was blowin' you could feel it from inside
A soft breeze was blowing, its presence felt from the inside.


Lily called another bet and drew up the Jack of Hearts
Lily placed another wager and received the Jack of Hearts as her card.


Big Jim was no one's fool he owned the town's only diamond mine
Big Jim was a shrewd individual who possessed the sole diamond mine in town.


He made his usual entrance lookin' so dandy and so fine
He entered in his customary flamboyant and impeccable manner.


With his bodyguards and silver cane and every hair in place
Accompanied by his bodyguards and carrying a silver cane, his impeccable appearance was complete.


He took whatever he wanted to and he laid it all to waste
He selfishly acquired everything he desired and squandered it without regard.


But his bodyguards and silver cane were no match for the Jack of Hearts
However, his bodyguards and silver cane proved ineffective against the cunning and influence of the Jack of Hearts.


Rosemary combed her hair and took a carriage into town
Rosemary tidied her hair and traveled to town in a carriage.


She slipped in through the side door lookin' like a queen without a crown
She discreetly entered through the side entrance, exuding an air of royalty without a visible symbol of authority.


She fluttered her false eyelashes and whispered in his ear
She batted her fake eyelashes and softly whispered into his ear.


"Sorry darlin' that I'm late", but he didn't seem to hear
"Apologies, sweetheart, for my tardiness," but he appeared oblivious to her words.


He was starin' into space over at the Jack of Hearts
He was deep in thought, gazing in the direction of the intriguing Jack of Hearts.


"I know I've seen that face before", Big Jim was thinkin' to himself
"I'm certain I've encountered that face previously," Big Jim silently pondered.


"Maybe down in Mexico or a picture up on somebody's shelf"
"Perhaps in Mexico or a photograph displayed on someone's shelf."


But then the crowd began to stamp their feet
However, the crowd started stomping their feet rhythmically.


And the house lights did dim
Simultaneously, the lights in the venue were gradually dimmed.


And in the darkness of the room there was only Jim and him
In the darkness of the room, only Jim and the mysterious individual remained.


Starin' at the butterfly who just drew the Jack of Hearts
Both individuals fixed their gaze upon the enigmatic butterfly who had recently received the Jack of Hearts.


Lily was a princess she was fair skinned and precious as a child
Lily possessed an air of royalty, her fair complexion displaying an innocent quality reminiscent of a child.


She did whatever she had to do she had
She was willing to undertake any action necessary.


That certain flash every time she smiled
Her smile emitted a specific sparkle and charisma.


She'd come away from a broken home had lots of strange affairs
She had departed from a shattered family and engaged in numerous unconventional relationships.


With men in every walk of life which took her everywhere
She had been involved with men from various backgrounds, leading her to diverse places and experiences.


But she'd never met anyone quite like the Jack of Hearts
However, she had never encountered someone as intriguing and captivating as the Jack of Hearts.


The hangin' judge came in unnoticed and was being wined and dined
The unnoticed hanging judge arrived and was being entertained and served food and drink.


The drillin' in the wall kept up but no one seemed to pay it any mind
The drilling sounds persisted, yet no one paid any attention to it.


It was known all around that Lily had Jim's ring
Everyone was aware that Lily possessed Jim's ring.


And nothing would ever come between Lily and the king
No one and nothing could ever disrupt the relationship between Lily and the powerful figure of the king.


No nothin' ever would except maybe the Jack of Hearts
However, the only exception might be the influential and mysterious Jack of Hearts.


Rosemary started drinkin' hard and seein' her reflection in the knife
Rosemary began consuming alcohol excessively and contemplating her image reflected in the knife.


She was tired of the attention tired of playin' the role of Big Jim's wife
She grew weary of the constant scrutiny and no longer wished to portray the role of Big Jim's spouse.


She had done a lot of bad things even once tried suicide
She had engaged in numerous immoral acts and had even made an attempt on her own life.


Was lookin' to do just one good deed before she died
She desired to perform a single act of goodness before her demise.


She was gazin' to the future riding on the Jack of Hearts
She was contemplating the future, placing her hopes and prospects on the unpredictable Jack of Hearts.


Lily washed her face took her dress off and buried it away
Lily cleansed her face, removed her dress, and concealed it.


"Has your luck run out?", she laughed at him
"Have you exhausted your good fortune?" she taunted him with laughter.


"Well I guess you must have known it would someday
"Well, I suppose you must have anticipated that it would happen eventually


Be careful not to touch the wall there's a brand-new coat of paint
Take caution not to touch the wall as it has recently been painted.


I'm glad to see you're still alive you're lookin' like a saint"
I'm pleased that you are still alive, and you appear exceptionally virtuous."


Down the hallway footsteps were comin' for the Jack of Hearts
Down the hallway, approaching footsteps were intended for the elusive Jack of Hearts.


The backstage manager was pacing all around by his chair
The manager behind the scenes was anxiously pacing near his chair.


"There's something funny going on" he said "I can just feel it in the air"
"There is something peculiar happening," he stated, sensing an indescribable atmosphere.


He went to get the hangin' judge but the hangin' judge was drunk
He went to find the inebriated hanging judge, but he was already intoxicated.


As the leading actor hurried by in the costume of a monk
Meanwhile, the principal actor rushed past in the attire of a monk.


There was no actor anywhere better than the Jack of Hearts
There was no performer more skilled or captivating than the enigmatic Jack of Hearts.


Lily's arms were locked around the man that she dearly loved to touch
Lily embraced the man she adored, cherishing every moment of physical contact.


She forgot all about the man she couldn't stand
She disregarded the man she strongly disliked and no longer thought about him.


Who hounded her so much
Who harassed her incessantly.


"I've missed you so" she said to him and he felt she was sincere
"I longed for your presence," she confessed to him, and he believed her genuineness.


But just beyond the door he felt jealousy and fear
However, beyond the door, he sensed jealousy and fear arising within him.


Just another night in the life of the Jack of Hearts
It was simply another evening in the eventful life of the enigmatic Jack of Hearts.


No one knew the circumstance but they say
No one knew the specific details, but according to rumors


That it happened pretty quick
The whole incident occurred quite rapidly.


The door to the dressing room burst open and a cold revolver clicked
The door to the dressing room suddenly swung open, and the sound of a revolver being cocked filled the air.


And Big Jim was standin' there ya couldn't say surprised
Big Jim stood there, and one couldn't describe his expression as surprised.


Rosemary right beside him steady in her eyes
Rosemary stood right beside him, her eyes determined and unwavering.


She was with Big Jim but she was leanin' to the Jack of Hearts
Although she was officially with Big Jim, her allegiances seemed to lean towards the captivating Jack of Hearts.


Two doors down the boys finally made it through the wall
Two doors away, the boys finally succeeded in breaking through the barrier.


And cleaned out the bank safe it's said that they got off with quite a haul
They emptied the bank's safe, allegedly escaping with a substantial amount of stolen valuables.


In the darkness by the riverbed they waited on the ground
In the shadows near the riverbank, they patiently waited on the ground.


For one more member who had business back in town
They waited for a final member who had unfinished affairs in town.


But they couldn't go no further without the Jack of Hearts
However, they were unable to proceed any further without the presence and assistance of the enigmatic Jack of Hearts.


The next day was hangin' day the sky was overcast and black
The following day was the day of execution, with a gloomy and dark sky overhead.


Big Jim lay covered up killed by a penknife in the back
Big Jim was lying lifeless, his body concealed, having been fatally stabbed in the back with a small knife.


And Rosemary on the gallows she didn't even blink
Rosemary stood on the gallows, demonstrating no signs of fear or hesitation.


The hangin' judge was sober he hadn't had a drink
The hanging judge was sober, having abstained from consuming alcohol.


The only person on the scene missin' was the Jack of Hearts
The only individual absent from the scene was the enigmatic Jack of Hearts.


The cabaret was empty now a sign said "Closed for repair"
The cabaret was now deserted, with a sign indicating closure for maintenance.


Lily had already taken all of the dye out of her hair
Lily had already removed all the color from her hair.


She was thinkin' 'bout her father who she very rarely saw
She contemplated her father, whom she seldom had the opportunity to see.


Thinkin' 'bout Rosemary and thinkin' about the law
She reflected upon Rosemary as well as the consequences imposed by the law.


But most of all she was thinkin' 'bout the Jack of Hearts
But above all, her thoughts were consumed by the enigmatic Jack of Hearts.




Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Written by: BOB DYLAN

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
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Comments from YouTube:

David Erickson

A fine interpretation and well done. We all love Dylan's original, but I really enjoyed your version. Thank you.

Lloyd Croskey

Joe Ely's amazing voice really adds a lot . . . He's a monster singer-songwriter-performer!

John Forbis

Long live Lubbock

1ragman1

What a voice Eliza Gilkyson, love it!

Cúem

Não tem o que falar a não ser elogiar esse trabalho, além de ter escolhido essa grande canção do Bob Dylan, a versão está maravilhosa...parabéns!

Joseph Kenny

It would be more like a miniseries, 8 or 10 hours long. This song is epic!

Todd Cott

What a brilliant song, brilliantly performed.

Brian Chandler

Great version of one of Dylan's best. I have always thought this song was perfect to adapt for a feature film.

Darryl Mull

Agree on excellence of this version of the song. Compliments to Tom and Eliza are warranted, but don't forget the unique voice of the great Joe Ely.

CometTamer

Yes indeed. This and his work on Gallo Del Cielo are amazing

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