Blockbuster Auction for Rare Dylan Lyric Sheets

Sotheby's estimates that 'The Times They Are A-Changin'' will be sold for between $200,000 and $300,000

December 2, 2010 12:30 PM ET
Blockbuster Auction for Rare Dylan Lyric Sheets
Courtesy of Sotheby's

Sometime in late 1963 Bob Dylan jotted down the lyrics to "The Times They Are A-Changin'" on a long sheet of white paper. On the back he began penning "North Country Blues," another song that begins with the lines "Come gather 'round..."

The document has been seen by very few people for the past 47 years, but on December 10 it's going to be auctioned by Sotheby's. They estimate it will go for between $200,000 and $300,000. "I'll be perfectly frank — I think we could have pushed the estimate up a bit," Sotheby's Senior Vice President Selby Kiffer tells Rolling Stone. "No Dylan lyric has ever sold for this much, but no Dylan lyric of this stature has ever come up for auction."

Early Bob Dylan Photographs

The handwritten lyric sheet comes from a cache of documents that Dylan historian Clinton Heylin refers to as "The MacKenzie-Krown Papers." Eve and Mac MacKenzie were a New York couple that housed Dylan shortly after he came to New York in 1961, and Kevin Krown was a friend from the Midwest who served as Dylan's first manager in that same time period. One way or another, Krown and the MacKenzie's came into possession of what Heylin describes as "a couple of dozen early Dylan songs — some handwritten, some typed out with chords." The lyrics to "The Times They Are-A Changin'" were sold by the MacKenzie's son Peter about 10 years ago to a private collector.

The Artwork Of Bob Dylan

Last June Sotheby's sold John Lennon's lyrics to "A Day In The Life" for $1.2 million, which led the private collector who owns the Dylan lyrics to contact the auction house. Indeed, Kiffer says he can't imagine any Dylan lyric being more sought after by collectors. "'Blowing In The Wind' is almost more associated with some of the other groups that covered it," he says. "'Like A Rolling Stone' is of huge significance, but that's from Dylan's period as a rocker."

It's still unlikely the lyrics will go for as much as "A Day In The Life." "The Beatles stopped in 1969 after a relatively brief period," Kiffer says. "Dylan has gone on and on — which is great — but he's kind of made it difficult to keep up with him. You can get your arms around the entire output of The Beatles. Also, on a strictly popular front maybe they would have the edge over Dylan."

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Whoomp! (There It Is)”

Tag Team | 1993

Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

More Song Stories entries »