Pricey hotel stationery: Dylan’s sketchy lyrics to his game-changing song are said to be the only surviving version. Photo: AP/uncredited
When the single “Like a Rolling Stone” off Bob Dylan’s LP Highway 61 Revisited was released in 1965, its served as a cannon shot across the bow of pop music, warning that nothing would be the same from that moment on. With its confrontational yet veiled lyrics and six-minute length, it was a tough sell on pop radio.
What proved to be an easier sell four-plus decades later were Dylan’s four pages of lyrics and doodles scrawled on hotel stationery, which were snatched up at a Sotheby’s auction for $2.045 million this past Tuesday.
The four pages reveal a work in progress with Dylan exploring rhyming possibilities for his refrain, “How does it feel.” Included are lines such as "it feels real," "does it feel real," "get down and kneel," "raw deal," and "shut up and deal." The artifact also captures some stray thought as well as a biblical quote from the book of Jeremiah: "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew and approved of you".
Whether you want to nail Dylan’s vocal phrasing, harmonica passages, or delve deeply into his lyrics, you’ll find a healthy collection of Dylan songbooks at Musician's Friend. One of the most popular items in our selection is The Definitive Bob Dylan Piano, Vocal, Guitar Songbook.