Bob Dylan’s ‘Hard Rain’ Manuscript Heads to Auction for £200,000

Bob Dylan.
Image: Rowland Scherman. Courtesy of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

In 1962, a then 21-year-old Bob Dylan wrote the lyrics for “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,” what Rolling Stone considers “the greatest protest song by the greatest protest writer of his time.”

The original draft for the song, including revisions and alternative endings will hit the auction block at Sotheby’s London this fall as part of its “Rock & Pop” sale. It is estimated to fetch up to £200,000.

Photo: courtesy of Sotheby's.

Photo: courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Sotheby’s books and manuscripts specialist Gabriel Heaton told the Guardian about the script, “You can see it was not originally intended as a working draft.” Heaton explained. “It was meant to be a final version of the song but when he starts reading it again, he clearly is unhappy with it and starts reworking, starts revising … more ideas start spilling out of his brain.”

The song, which many thought to have been inspired by the Cuban missile crisis, according to NBC News, was actually written before the crisis and was first performed at Carnegie Hall in September 1962, weeks before the world was close to full-on nuclear war.

Sotheby’s told NBC News that the manuscript is being sold by the family of Elizabeth D’Jazian, the ex-wife of American entertainer and peace activist Hugh “Wavy Gravy” Romney. Dylan wrote the manuscript in Romney’s room above the Gaslight Folk Club in New York’s Greenwich Village area in 1962.

Last year, Dylan’s lyrics for “Like a Rolling Stone” fetched $2 million at Sotheby’s and he had a gallery show in Bridgehampton.


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