A draft of Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" sold today for $2 million, which Sotheby's auction house called a world record for a pop-music manuscript. A working draft of the song in Dylan's own hand went to an unidentified bidder for $2.045 million. The manuscript is "the only known surviving draft of the final lyrics for this transformative rock anthem," Sotheby's said. The draft is written in pencil on four sheets of hotel letterhead stationery with revisions, additions, notes, and doodles: a hat, a bird, an animal with antlers. The stationery comes from the Roger Smith Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Dylan was 24 when he recorded the song in 1965 about a debutante who becomes a loner when she's cast from upper-class social circles. "How does it feel To be on your own," it says in his handwriting. "No direction home Like a complete unknown Like a rolling stone." Scrawls seem to reflect the artist's experimentation with rhymes. The name "Al Capone" is scrawled in the margin, with a line leading to the lyrics "Like a complete unknown." Another note says: "...dry vermouth, you'll tell the truth..." Sotheby's described the seller as a longtime fan from California "who met his hero in a non-rock context and bought directly from Dylan." He was not identified. (Last year, Dylan's iconic electric guitar sold for $1 million.)