The manuscript for Bob Dylan’s ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ (his first rock ‘n’ roll hit) sold today at auction for slightly over two million dollars — $2.045 mil to be exact — to a mystery buyer, according to Sotheby’s, the auction house that handled the transaction, but that buyer didn’t get a key to unlock the mysteries of the manuscript.
For instance, why did Dylan write “Al Capone” in the margin with a line from the gangster’s name to the word “direction” in the chorus?
“Al Capone” might have worked in terms of a rhyme, but it would make no sense in terms of what the song is about.
Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” sold for $485,000.
But back to Bob Dylan’s ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ manuscript:
There are various alternate phrases written on the manuscript that Dylan wisely rejected, but they don’t reveal much.
On the second page of the manuscript is a version of the chorus with “path unknown” as one of the lines.
At the top of page three is written: “How does it feel/ Behind the wheel.”
At the bottom of page three the chorus is again a work in progress:
How does it feel to be on your own
It feels real (dog-bone)
Does it feel real.”
Then he wrote “New direction home” but put a line through “new” and wrote “no” under it.
Then: “When the winds have (unreadable word that could be “flown”)
“Shut up and deal like a rolling stone
Get down and kneel.”
More interesting perhaps, Dylan has written names of songs and books on the pages, which may or may not relate to the song itself: “Pony Blues,” a song by Charley Patton; “Midnight Special” (and above it “Mavis”); “On the Road”; and “Butcher Boy,” which likely refers to “The Butcher Boy,” an old folk song that the Clancy Brothers recorded.
There’s a mostly discarded verse that reads:
“You never listened to the man who could (illegible) jive and wail
Never believed ‘m when he told you he had love for sale
You said you’d never compromise/ now he looks into your eyes
and says do you want make a deal.”
And what ended up being the third verse reads like this in part:
“You never turned around
To see the frowns
On the jugglers and the clowns
When they all came down
And did tricks for you to shake the money tree.”
There’s a line drawn through that entire last line.
Two million bucks and change.
— A Days of the Crazy -Wild blog post —