A Bob Dylan Proto-Song


By Larry Fyffe

Our researchers at the Untold Dylan Archives Library have dusted off a copy of songwriter Bob Dylan’s first sketchy plot for an allegorIcal song that’s labelled: “Lily, Rosmary, And The Jack Of Hearts”. It’s obviously influenced by the writings of Jewish mystics.


The copy shows a list of the main characters for the song along with a short description of their motivations ….and some tentative verses.

Following is a summary of Bob’s notes.

Big Jim: represents a satanic archangel in the Spiritual World who rebels because he’s jealous that Adam in the Material World now gets all of JOH’s (Jehovah’s) attention. Big Jim seeks revenge by causing trouble down in the Garden of Eden after he’s kicked out of Heaven by JOH, sr.

Next, a verse’s written down:

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 snake-skin suit, and silver cane, and every hair in place
He took what ever he wanted, and laid it all to waste
But his serpent tongue, and his silver cane, were no match for the Jack Of Hearts

Followed by:

Lily: represents Lilith, Jehovah’s co-creation alongside of good-looking Adam; she likes him too much. But she hooks up with Big Jim after JOH, sr. grants his earth-made son’s request for a more submissive wife – jitterbug Lilith is displaced by laid-back Eve.

Then another proposed  verse:

A demon lover before God's gift of Rosemary
Around Jack's heart a golden hair has weaved
She's not about to bear the child they've conceived
Lily does what she has to do, she flies from the garden tree
No ,no, babe, it ain't me  that you're looking for

And there’s more:

Rosemary: represents Eve; she likes Adam quite a bit, but she’s easily seduced – by Diamond Jim; he’s wearing a long black snake-skin coat, and gives her a ring shaped like an apple that sparkles every time he speaks.

Dylan scratches down a note in the margin at this point – ‘It’s not really Big Jim, but Lily-in-disguise with diamonds; she’s determined to spoil the rose setting; to get Eve thrown out of Eden just like Satan gets thrown out of Heaven”.

Another verse:

Rosemary started thinking hard, seeing her reflection in the night
She was tired of the inattention, tired of playing the role of Big Jim's wife
She had done a bad thing, she'd been been taken in by him
She wanted to do just one good thing before she died
She didn't even care that the Jack Of Hearts had lied

The comments continue on:

The Jack Of Hearts: represents Adam, he’s JOH, junior;  with his little pen, he writes out a plan, hatched by his heavenly father, that will rid the town of Big Jim.

To wit: Down the hallway of the local casino, Lily is to make out with Jack; Jim, of course, will try to shoot him, but Rosemary will have already taken the bullets out of his gun. Then Big Jim will be stabbed in the back. But only Jehovah up above will know who’s done it.

One more verse is written down:

'Cept God, no one knew the circumstance, it happened mighty quick
The door to the dressing room opened, and a cold revolver clicked
Big Jim was standing there, you could say he's quite surprised
Rosemary was with him, standing by his side
But she was winking at the Jack Of Hearts

And then a final note:

"The next day sad-eyed Rosie gets hung up on the cross."

What else is on the site

You’ll find some notes about our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.

The index to all the 590 Dylan compositions and co-compositions that we have found on the A to Z page.

We also have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with over 2000 active members.  (Try imagining a place where it is always safe and warm).  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

If you are interested in Dylan’s work from a particular year or era, your best place to start is Bob Dylan year by year.

On the other hand if you would like to write for this website, please do drop me a line with details of your idea, or if you prefer, a whole article.  Email Tony@schools.co.uk

And please do note   The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, is starting to link back to our reviews


  1. Take note:
    Some Dylan scholars actually consider the document possessed by the Untold Archives to be a forgery!

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