On December 10, 2010 Sotheby's in New York sold a single rather worn sheet of binder paper on which Bob Dylan wrote the original lyrics of his most famous song, The Times They Are A-Changin, probably in October 1963. This battered piece of paper with messy writing sold for $422,500.
"Dylan's friend, Tony Glover, recalls visiting Dylan's apartment in September 1963, where he saw a number of song manuscripts and poems lying on a table. 'The Times They Are a-Changin' had yet to be recorded, but Glover saw its early manuscript. After reading the words 'come senators, congressmen, please heed the call', Glover reportedly asked Dylan: 'What is this shit, man?', to which Dylan responded, 'Well, you know, it seems to be what the people like to hear'.
"Dylan recalled writing the song as a deliberate attempt to create an anthem of change for the moment. In 1985, he told Cameron Crowe: 'This was definitely a song with a purpose. It was influenced of course by the Irish and Scottish ballads . . .'Come All Ye Bold Highway Men', 'Come All Ye Tender Hearted Maidens'. I wanted to write a big song, with short concise verses that piled up on each other in a hypnotic way. The civil rights movement and the folk music movement were pretty close for a while and allied together at that time.'
"The climactic lines of the final verse: 'The order is rapidly fadin'/ And the first one now/ Will later be last/ For the times they are a-changin' have a Biblical ring, and several critics have connected them with lines in the Gospel of Mark, 10:31, 'But many that are first shall be last, and the last first.'
"A self-conscious protest song, it is often viewed as a reflection of the generation gap and of the political divide marking American culture in the 1960s. Dylan, however, disputed this interpretation in 1964, saying 'Those were the only words I could find to separate aliveness from deadness. It had nothing to do with age.' A year later, Dylan would say: 'I can't really say that adults don't understand young people any more than you can say big fishes don't understand little fishes. I didn't mean 'The Times They Are a-Changin' ' as a statement. . . It's a feeling" (Wikipedia article on The Times They Are a-Changin', accessed 12-11-2010).