On Our Turntable: “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts,” Bob Dylan

Blood on the Tracks is the album where the sprawling milieus of Highway 61 Revisited finally solidified and started to resemble narratives. This is evident on “Tangled Up in Blue,” but it’s even clearer on “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts.” For all the complications, its story of marital infidelity is pretty easy to tease out if you’re paying attention. If you’re only casually listening, you might instead notice what a wild cast of characters the song has; besides the three title characters, the song sees recurring appearances from Big Jim, the Hanging Judge and an unnamed gang of bank robbers. These actors vanish for verses on end, only to reappear when you’ve just forgotten about them. All of this works to great comic effect, and “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts” serves as a delightful romp, albeit one with enough ruined/ended lives to fit into the more somber collection that is Blood on the Tracks.

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