Bob Dylan’s handwritten ‘Desolation Row’ lyrics to be sold for £350,000

It's reportedly the only handwritten version of the words to the 1965 song that exists in the world

Bob Dylan‘s handwritten lyrics to 1965’s ‘Desolation Row’ are set to be sold for $425,000 (£350,000) at auction.

It’s the latest of a host of songs whose lyric sheets have been auctioned in recent years. In 2020, original manuscripts for ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’’, ‘Lay Lady Lay’ and ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ were acquired by a memorabilia company, with the former listed for a huge $2.2million (£1.8m).

According to TMZ, the lyrics to the 11-minute song, which feature handwritten edits from Dylan, were obtained by a lifelong friend of the singer’s who received the lyric sheet decades ago.


The auction listing from Moments In Time reads: In terms of rarity, unlike ‘Times’, ‘Hard Rain’, ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’, where several examples of each exist, there are no other examples of ‘Desolation Row’.

“Dylan’s archives in the Tulsa museum does not include any version of it. In over 50 years no other example of ‘Desolation Row’ has ever been hinted at existing.”

Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan. Credit: Keith Baugh/Redferns

In recent weeks, Bob Dylan has apologised for the controversy surrounding signed copies of his new book, saying that “using a machine was an error in judgment”.

Last week, publishing giant Simon & Schuster conceded that “hand-signed” copies of Bob Dylan’s new book, The Philosophy Of Modern Song, were in fact manufactured with an autopen system (which uses a machine to automatically reproduce a person’s signature).

The signed copies of the book – of which there were 900 – were sold through Simon & Schuster’s website at $599 USD (£505). Many fans cottoned on to the dupe when they started sharing photos of their copies on forums, where it became clear that every copy sported a virtually identical signature.


In a statement posted to his Facebook page, Dylan apologised to fans and said that the autopen was suggested to him as an idea after he was suffering from illness and vertigo in 2019 and felt unable to sign the books himself.

He told fans: “I’ve been made aware that there’s some controversy about signatures on some of my recent artwork prints and on a limited-edition of Philosophy Of Modern Song. I’ve hand-signed each and every art print over the years, and there’s never been a problem.

“However, in 2019 I had a bad case of vertigo and it continued into the pandemic years. It takes a crew of five working in close quarters with me to help enable these signing sessions, and we could not find a safe and workable way to complete what I needed to do while the virus was raging.”

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