Friday, April 08, 2011

Shaggy dog story decoded

I recently gave a few listens to the unreleased "New York Sessions" version of Dylan's well-known 1975 album, Blood on the Tracks. It's kind of interesting - slower and more down, plus it has the advantage of permitting a fresh listen to several tracks that had become over-familiar in their released versions (although I probably hadn't listened to the album for at least 10 years).

One side-benefit is that "Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts" contains an extra verse in the unreleased version that permits one, I think, to more or less definitively decode what happens in the story. Jack gets together with Lily in the dressing room. Big Jim knows they're there and bursts in holding a gun and with Rosemary by his side. This appears to be a set-up. Rosemary stabs him (a planned not impulsive act). Jack leaves town to meet up with the other bank robbers. Rosemary makes no effort to escape and is hanged for the killing.

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