NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A handwritten draft of the timeless Bob Dylan classic “Like a Rolling Stone” sold for $2 million at auction Tuesday, in what Sotheby’s called a world record for a popular music manuscript.
A working draft of the finished song in Dylan’s own hand went to an unidentified bidder at Sotheby’s. The selling price, $2.045 million, included a buyer’s premium.
The manuscript is “the only known surviving draft of the final lyrics for this transformative rock anthem,” Sotheby’s said.
The draft is written in pencil on four sheets of hotel letterhead stationery with revisions, additions, notes and doodles: a hat, a bird, an animal with antlers. The stationery comes from the Roger Smith Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Dylan was 24 – and had advanced from the Greenwich Village folk circuit to worldwide notoriety — when he recorded the song in 1965 about a debutante who becomes a loner when she’s cast from upper-class social circles.
“How does it feel To be on your own” it says in his handwriting. “No direction home Like a complete unknown Like a rolling stone.”
Scrawls seem to reflect the artist’s experimentation with rhymes.
The name “Al Capone” is scrawled in the margin, with a line leading to the lyrics “Like a complete unknown.”
Another note says: “—dry vermouth, you’ll tell the truth—”
Dylan has said in interviews that “Like a Rolling Stone” began as a “long piece of vomit about 20 pages long,” and “all about my steady hatred, directed at some point that was honest.”
Sotheby’s described the seller of the lyric sheets as a longtime fan from California “who met his hero in a non-rock context and bought directly from Dylan.” He was not identified.
The manuscript was offered as part of Sotheby’s rock and pop music sale.
In 2010, John Lennon’s handwritten lyrics for his part of “A Day in the Life,” which he wrote with Paul McCartney and which became the final track on the Beatles’ classic 1967 album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” sold for $1.2 million — the record for such a sale.
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