Bob Dylan ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ draft lyrics headed to auction

The hand-written lyrics for Bob Dylan's 1965 rock classic "Like a Rolling Stone" will go up for auction in June at Sotheby's in New York.
The hand-written lyrics for Bob Dylan’s 1965 rock classic “Like a Rolling Stone” will go up for auction in June at Sotheby’s in New York.

A hand-written manuscript described by Sotheby’s auction house as “the only known surviving draft of the final lyrics” to Bob Dylan’s 1965 rock anthem “Like A Rolling Stone” will be offered for sale in June and is expected to bring $1 million to $2 million.

The four-page draft on hotel stationery, written in pencil, shows a number of phrases that didn’t make the cut for the songs as Dylan originally recorded it, along with the now-classic lines that did: “How does it feel / To be on your own / No direction home / Like a complete unknown / Like a Rolling Stone.”

It’s being put up for auction by a man identified only as a fan from California, “who met his hero in a non-rock context and bought [the lyrics] directly from Dylan,” according to Sotheby’s.

Among the ultimately rejected phrases also contained in the pages from the Roger Smith hotel in Washington, D.C., are “Al Capone” and “dry vermouth, you’ll tell the truth.”


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The four pages are described by Sotheby’s as the “original working autograph manuscript with corrections, revisions and additions, comprising the essential final draft lyrics for ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ [June 1965].”

The record for the sale of lyrics from a rock song are held by John Lennon’s hand-written lyrics for “A Day In the Life” from the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album, which sold in 2010 for $1.2 million.

The Fender Stratocaster electric guitar Dylan used around the same time for his famous performance at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island sold last year at auction for $965,000.


The upcoming auction is scheduled to take place June 24 at Sotheby’s location in New York City. The Dylan lyrics are one of the highlights of a rock history auction titled “A Rock & Roll History: Presley to Punk” that also includes the bail bond for Doors’ singer Jim Morrison’s arrest in Miami and vintage tour posters and other promotional items connected to Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin and Cream.