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Sotheby’s Sells Draft to Bob Dylan Classic for a Record 2 Million

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Another rock classic was in the hands of Sotherby’s. And the classic is from Bob Dylan.

A draft of Bob Dylan’s 1965 classic “Like a Rolling Stone” recently sold for two million dollars. The draft went to an unidentified bidder, selling for $2.045 million, including a buyer’s premium, and was considered to be the “only known surviving draft of the final lyrics of this classic rock anthem, which peaked at number two in 1965, behind the Beatles’ “Help!”, and is regarded as the greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone. The seller also unidentified, is a longtime fan from California, who met Dylan in a non-rock context and bought directly from him.

According to Sotheby’s, the draft is written in pencil on four sheets of letterhead stationery from the Roger Smith Hotel in Washington D.C., and it also features revisions, additions, notes, and doodles (of a hat, bird, and an animal with antlers). With “Like a Rolling Stone” being about a debutante who becomes lonely upon being casted out from upper-class social circles, the handwriting on the draft also features the song’s most notable lines; “How does it feel to be on your own” and “no direction home like a complete unknown like a rolling stone”.

Other factors of the draft include the name “Al Capone” scrawled in the margin and lead by the line “like a complete unknown”, as well as a note that says “dry vermouth, you’ll tell the truth.

The manuscript of Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” was part of Sotheby’s rock and pop music sale. Four years earlier, the famous auction block had sold handwritten lyrics for the Beatles’ 1967 classic “A Day in the Life” for $1.2 million, which was the previous record for such a sale.


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