Scribbled Draft Lyrics of Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” Sells for Record $2 Million

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 24 2014 5:31 PM

Scribbled Draft Lyrics of Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” Sells for Record $2 Million

450960782-the-most-popular-manuscript-ever-to-apper-at-auction
Bob Dylan's original hand written lyrics for the 1965 epic "Like A Rolling Stone" sold at auction.

Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

A handwritten draft of Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” sold for more than $2 million at a Sotheby’s auction on Tuesday. The hefty sum for the lyrics written on four pages of hotel stationary that includes scribbled edits and doodles set a new record for a popular music manuscript, according to the Associated Press. The sale nearly doubled the previous record set in 2010, Reuters reports, “when John Lennon's handwritten lyrics for ‘A Day in the Life,’ the final track from the 1967 album ‘Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band’ sold for $1.2 million, according to Sotheby's.”

Dylan recorded the song, which was named by Rolling Stone as the greatest song of all time in 2004, in 1965 when he was only 24 years old.

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Here’s more on Dylan’s rough draft via Rolling Stone:

… the sheets do feature some lyrics that didn't make the final cut, including the phrase, "…dry vermouth/You'll tell the truth" and an abandoned line about Al Capone. The lyrics also show Dylan's various attempts to build a rhyme off of the "How does it feel" line with phrases like, "it feels real," "does it feel real," "get down and kneel," "raw deal" and "shut up and deal."

And a few more of Dylan’s early versions of the song from NPR:

In the line that was recorded as: "You used to laugh about / Everybody that was hanging out," Dylan had originally written "Everybody that was down and out?" before crossing it out… After "Now you don't seem so proud," is written "Voice is down" and "Head's in the cloud… " After the plaintive and cynical refrain "How does it feel?" Dylan has written in mixed caps: "IS IT AINT Quite ReaL."


Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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