Bob Dylan's Hand-Written 'Like A Rolling Stone' Lyrics Up for Auction

Posted on May 1, 2014

“You threw the bums a dime in your prime,” Bob Dylan famously snarled in “Like a Rolling Stone.” Well, how ‘bout throwing 10 million dimes? That’s the estimated amount expected to change hands next month when the original hand-written lyrics to Dylan’s seminal 1965 classic goes on auction in New York City.

Sotheby’s auction house announced this week its June 24 sale of four pages, written by hand, of the lyrics to the tune Rolling Stone magazine named in 2004 as its “greatest song of all time.”

Dylan wrote the song while staying at the Roger Smith Hotel in Washington D.C. The writing on the sheets show the folk-rock legend working through lyrical ideas and rhyming schemes—the song’s famous “how does it feel” refrain was, at certain points in the songwriting process, paired with “it feels real,” “shut up and deal,” and “get down and kneel.”

In addition to those highlights, other curiosities include “[more] unused lines, stray thoughts on American cultural imagery, and interesting doodles," according to a Sotheby’s press release.

Cryptically, the words “Al Capone” are written on the margin of one page.

The lyric sheets are owned, according to Sotheby’s, by a fan from California who had purchased them directly from the songwriter himself. The auction house is slating the item to go from between $1 million and $2 million.

The Dylan lyrics will be up for bid as part of Sotheby’s pop-music-themed  auction, "History of Rock and Roll From Presley to Punk." Other items up for bid will include guitars owned by John Lennon and Eric Clapton, a contract Jimi Hendrix signed in 1965 agreeing to perform for $1; Joni Mitchell’s original lyric sheet for “Big Yellow Taxi,” as well two pages of the finished lyrics to Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.”

Check out Dylan talking about his frame of mind when writing "Like A Rolling Stone" in the above clip from Martin Scorsese's 2005 documentary, "No Direction Home." 

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