In one of those events that would be really funny to go back in time and tell someone about—specifically an up-and-coming folk singer living in New York in the ‘60s—an unknown rich person has just paid more than $2 million for an early handwritten draft of the lyrics to Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone.”
As reported by Rolling Stone (the magazine, not the thing in the song), the lyrics were sold through Sotheby’s auction house, which claims the high value of the sale now holds “a world record for a popular music manuscript.” The lyrics sheet was reportedly “written in pencil” by Dylan himself, and despite being “the only known surviving draft of the final lyrics” for the song, it contains a number of cut and alternate lines. One section apparently contains the phrase “…dry vermouth/You’ll tell the truth,” which is just dumb enough to sound like it belongs in a Bob Dylan parody song, not one of the best songs Bob Dylan ever wrote. There’s also a few variations on the “How does it feel” part of the chorus, with options like “it feels real,” “does it feel real,” “get down and kneel,” “raw deal,” “shut up and deal,” “let’s make a deal,” and “deal or no deal,” two of which are actually TV show names that we snuck in there.
Sotheby’s also sold two pages of handwritten lyrics to Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” for $485,000. They presumably contain similar variations on that song’s chorus, with alternate lyrics like “do you hear the call,” “I want it all,” “pass me the ball,” and “let’s go to the mall.”