Who Murdered Big Diamond Jim Is Finally Solved

by Larry Fyffe

At long last, the full story that Bob Dylan only partially reveals in the song “Lily, Rosemary, And The Jack Of Hearts” can be told.

Turns out the backstage manager of the “Cabaret” (a night club which features a chandelier that comes all the way from Norway) is named Hard-Boiled Herman (aka, Louie the Lug – a small-time gambler he was at one time, according to police files); he now works for Big Jim, the candlestine owner of the night club mentioned above; Herman’s love interest is his own daughter Lily.

Father and daughter are originally from the French island of St. Pierre. Lily’s presently the singer and dancer at Big Jim’s bar. Herman sings with her when she performs. To insure that she does not lose her job, Lily feigns a sexual interest in the owner of the club, who’s got a wife; Jim gives a diamond ring to Lily:

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 nothin’ would ever come between Lily and the king
No, nothing ever would except maybe the Jack Of Hearts
(Bob Dylan: Lily, Rosemary, And The Jack Of Hearts)

Because he’s quite sure that Big Jim’s fooling around with his daughter, manager Herman is jealous of his two-timing boss:

The backstage manager was pacing around by his chair
“There’s something funny goin’ on”, he said, “I can feel it in the air”
He went off to get the hangin’ judge, but the hangin’ judge was drunk
As the leading actor hurried by in a costume of a monk
There was no actor anywhere better than the Jack Of Hearts
(Bob Dylan: Lily, Rosemary, And The Jack Of Hearts)

The Jack Of Hearts, back from the island of St. Pierre, decides to rob the “Cabaret” to get revenge on Louie because the rum-runner knows that the Lug roughed up Lily because his daughter cared for Jack when he was sick while on one of his runs to the French island off the coast of Newfoundland.

Big Jim’s jealous of the Jack of Hearts because of Lily’s interest in the rum-runner. So Jack and Lily hedge their bets by conspiring to kill Big Jim, and frame Lily’s incestuous father for the murder. Lily asks Jim to show her his big gun, and she unloads the bullets when he’s not looking; then she goes to her dressing room, and makes herself up to look like Rosemary, Jim’s hapless wife. Knowing Herman will soon be going out on an errand, Jack dresses up like Lily’s father, his disguise hidden by a monk’s cloak:

No one knew the circumstances, but they they say that it happened pretty quick
The door to the dressing room burst open, and a cold revolver clicked
And Big Jim was standing there, you wouldn’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
(Bob Dylan: Lily, Rosemary, And The Jack Of Hearts)

Stared at by Lily, disguised as Rosemary, you’d say Big Jim’s confused, and ‘Herman’, with a knife that the Jack of Hearts has ‘lifted’ from the Lug’s tool box, stabs the owner of the “Cabaret” – just as the hangin’ judge stumbles in through the dressing room door:

The next day was hangin’ day, the sky was overscast 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
(Bob Dylan: Lily, Rosemary, And The Jack Of Hearts)

The Jack of Hearts rushes out of the nightclub, looking like Hard-Boiled Herman, aka Louie The Lug. Ever since then, the backstage manager has been hiding out. He’s back on St. Pierre because he’s got a price on his head for murdering Diamond Jim:

The Cabaret was empty now, a sign said, “Closed for repair”
Lily had already taken the dye out of her hair
She was thinkin’ ’bout her father who she rarely saw
Thinkin’ ’bout Rosemary, and thinkin’ about the law
But most of all, she was thinkin’ ’bout the Jack Of Hearts
(Lily, Rosemary, And The Jack Of Hearts)

After it’s repaired due to the hole drilled through the wall, Lily sings her favorite song at the “Cabaret” with her new partner – the Jack Of Hearts:

There’s a long, long trail a-winding
Into the lands of my dreams
Where the nightingales are singing
And the white moon beams
(King and Elliot: There’s A Long, Long Trail A-Winding)

Sometimes, just for a lark, the happy pair sweetens up the music pie:

Jokerman dance by the nightingale tune
Bird fly high by the light of the moon
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman
(Bob Dylan: Jokerman)

Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts.

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