Bob Dylan's 'Like a Rolling Stone' Lyrics Sell for $2 Million

Four-sheet draft includes scratched-out ideas, rhymes and doodles

Bob Dylan
Christopher Polk/Getty Images.
Bob Dylan in Los Angeles, CA on January 12th, 2012.
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A draft of Bob Dylan's lyrics for his groundbreaking 1965 song "Like a Rolling Stone" sold for $2.045 million at auction Tuesday afternoon.

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The lyrics were sold to an unidentified bidder at auction house Sotheby's, who called the sale a world record for a popular music manuscript, according to Associated Press.

Written in pencil on four sheets of hotel stationary, Sotheby's described the item as "the only known surviving draft of the final lyrics for this transformative rock anthem." Still, 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." The draft — written at the Roger Smith Hotel in Washington D.C. — also boasts some of Dylan's stray thoughts and doodles.

The item was already expected to fetch between $1 million and $2 million at Sotheby's rock and pop sale, dubbed, "History of Rock and Roll From Presley to Punk." And while the seller was not identified, the auction house called him a "longtime fan from California" who bought the manuscript directly from Dylan.

Two pages of Dylan's handwritten lyrics for "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" also sold at the same auction for $485,000. While that item featured the song's lyrics in their finished form, they also include a quotation from the biblical book of Jeremiah ("Before I formed you in the womb, I knew and approved of you") and the notation "diamond desert" in the margins of the second verse.

In 2004, "Like a Rolling Stone" was ranked Number One in our 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Last year, 48 years after it was written, "Like a Rolling Stone" was given a new interactive music video, which appeared at Number Four in our 10 Best Music Videos of 2013.

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