Bob Dylan: Lady Lou, Jim McGroo, And The Ace Of Spades

Bob Dylan: Lady Lou, Jim McGroo, And The Ace Of Spades

By Larry Fyffe

Besides  the movie ‘Rose Marie’, another Canadian-situated source of Bob Dylan’s “Lily, Rosemary, And The Jack Of Hearts” is the narrative poem “The Shooting Of Dan McGrew” by Canadian versifier Robert Service, “The Bard of the Yukon”:

A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Malamute Saloon
The kid that handles the music box was hitting a jag-time tune
Back of the bar, in a solo game, sat Dangerous Dan McGrew
And watching his luck was his light-o'- love, the lady that was known as Lou

(Robert Service: The Shooting Of Dan McGrew)

Bob Dylan mixes up the medicine:

Backstage the girls were playin' five-card stud by the stairs ...
Big Jim was no one's fool, he owned the town's only diamond mine ...
It was known all around that Lily had Big Jim's ring
And nothing would ever come between Lily and the king
No, nothin' ever would, except maybe the Jack of Hearts

(Bob Dylan: Lily, Rosemary, And The Jack Of Hearts)

The Canadian poet draws the Ace of Spades, a symbol of death:

When out of the night, which was fifty below, and into the din and the glare
There stumbled a miner fresh from the creeks, dog-dirty, and loaded for bear
He looked like a man with a foot in the grave and scarcely the strength of a louse
Yet he tilted a poke of dust on the bar, and he called for drinks for the house ....
And I turned my head, and there watching him was the lady known as Lou

(Robert Service: The Shooting Of Dan McGrew)

The American singer/songwriter shuffles the deck before he deals:

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 he moved into the corner, face down like the Jack of Hearts ....
Lily called another bet, and drew up the Jack of Hearts

(Bob Dylan: Lily, Rosemary,  And The Jack Of Hearts)

All hell breaks loose in the Malamute Saloon:

Then I ducked my head, and the lights went out, and two guns blazed in the dark
And a woman screamed, the lights went up, and two men lay stiff and stark
Pitched on his head, and pumped full of lead, was Dangerous Dan McGrew
While the man from the creeks lay clutched to the breast of the lady that's known as Lou .....
The lady that kissed him, and pinched his poke, was the  lady that's known as Lou

(Robert Service: The Shooting Of Dan McGrew) 

And in the Cabaret too – except, this time round, it’s the Jack of Hearts who pinches the gold:

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 ....
Big Jim lay covered up, killed by a penknife in the back ....
The only person on the scene missing was the Jack of Hearts

(Bob Dylan: Lily, Rosemary, And The Jack Of Hearts)

A famous satirist is at Robert’s service; uses hip-jive to burlesque “The Shooting Of Dan McGrew”:

There's a bunch of the studs was swingin' it up In the old Red Dog Saloon .....
And hung back at the bar in a solar game Stood Swingin' Danny McGroo
And diggin' his takes was his main day charge The stallion known as Lou

(Lord Buckley: The Shooting Of Dan McGroo)

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Bob Dylan and Lord Buckley

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