SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Bob Dylan’s handwritten lyrics to “Like a Rolling Stone” fetched a record-breaking $2 million at a Sotheby’s auction in New York this Tuesday. The purchase price easily topped the previous record of $1.2 million, which a buyer in 2010 paid to procure John Lennon’s personally penned manuscript for “A Day in the Life.” According to the auction house, an anonymous fan placed Dylan’s lyrics up for sale, saying he bought the document from the legendary folk artist directly. The identity of the winning bidder was not disclosed, but the man told Sotheby’s he was willing to “pay any amount to end decades of torture trying to figure out what the hell Dylan is mumbling about.”
Born Robert Allen Zimmerman in 1941, Bob Dylan has been an influential and pioneering contributor to the American music scene for over 50 years. His lyrical stylings intentionally went against the grain of pop music conventions, embracing instead elements of counterculture politics, society, literature and philosophy.
But perhaps the most famous aspect of Dylan’s songs is his unique and unsettling voice. Writer Joyce Carol Oates aptly described these qualities when she recounted her first time hearing Dylan perform: “When we first heard this raw, very young, and seemingly untrained voice, frankly nasal, as if sandpaper could sing, the effect was dramatic and electrifying.”
Many others, though, continue to find Dylan’s vocals grating, hard on the ear, tormenting and unintelligible. It was precisely for the latter reason that the unidentified buyer purchased Dylan’s hand-scribed lyrics to “Like a Rolling Stone.”
“I want to appreciate Dylan, and in a lot of ways I do,” the man said. “But I’m also obsessive. I have been playing his songs over and over again for years, desperately trying to push myself through the excruciating ordeal of listening to his voice -- like a tubercular seal that’s swallowed a piece of sandpaper while mating with an alcoholic goat-- to figure out what he’s actually saying. Thank God his handwriting is less abrasive and ineffable and anxiety producing than his singing. It was worth the two million to end my torment.”
He added: “I know people who’ve had near-death experiences. They all say they’d rather go through that again than endure seven straight hours of some hobo wailing like an injured rabbit.”
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