FILE PHOTO: Bob Dylan performs during the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware, U.S. June 17, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela
April 19, 2020
By Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Bob Dylan’s handwritten lyrics to his 1960s classic “The Times They Are A-Changin’” are going up for sale with a $2.2 million asking price in what could mark a world record for rock lyrics.
Gary Zimet, owner of Los Angeles-based autograph dealers Moments in Time, said on Sunday the one-page sheet of lyrics, written in a notebook and with changes and scribbles, was originally owned by Dylan’s current manager, Jeff Rosen, and was now being sold by an anonymous private collector.
“It’s not an auction. It’s a private sale. First come, first served,” Zimet told Reuters.
Dylan’s handwritten lyrics to “Like a Rolling Stone” fetched a world-record $2 million when they were sold at auction by Sotheby’s in New York in 2014.
“The Times They Are A-Changin’”, written by Dylan in 1963 and released on his 1964 album of the same name, is regarded as one of the most iconic protest songs of the 1960s.
Zimet said he was also selling the lyrics of two other Dylan songs – his 1965 track “Subterranean Homesick Blues” for $1.2 million, and 1969 ballad “Lay Lady Lay” for $650,000.
“They are not quite as important, as iconic,” said Zimet, explaining the lower prices. “‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ is certainly a major, major song but not in the same league as ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’.”
The lyrics to popular songs, especially when handwritten and with scratched-out ideas or doodles, have become some of the most sought-after items for collectors of celebrity memorabilia.
Don McLean’s 16-page draft for “American Pie” fetched $1.2 million in 2015, while Paul McCartney’s scribbled partial lyrics for a recording of “Hey Jude” sold for $910,000 at an online auction earlier this month.
Dylan, 78, last month released his first original music in eight years with a 17-minute song called “Murder Most Foul” that was inspired by the 1963 assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. In 2016, Dylan became the only singer-songwriter to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Peter Cooney)