Beatles for sale as lyrics are offered for wad of notes
Wednesday 30 August 1995
Many of the handwritten manuscripts to be sold by Sotheby's display the changing thoughts of the writers - including Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Debbie Harry, Paul McCartney and John Lennon - with words and sentences scored out and underlined.
The most important are Paul McCartney's handwritten lyrics for "Getting Better" from the Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band album scribbled on headed paper for the "Million Volt Light and Sound Rave" in 1967.
Estimated at up to pounds 48,000, the scrap of paper is likely to set an auction record for Sotheby's. The highest price previously paid for a lyric sold by the auction house was pounds 48,400 three years ago for John Lennon's words to "A Day In The Life". The McCartney lyric recorded on the Sgt Pepper album gives the impression of being written in a hurry. At one point, the words for the chorus are written as "Getting so much betting all the time", then "betting" is crossed out for "better".
A second lyric by McCartney to be sold in the sale, on 13 and 14 September, is "Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da", the love story of the market trader Desmond and the singer Molly. Estimated at up to pounds 15,000, McCartney jotted down the words for the anonymous vendor because he found them difficult to remember. The sale also features Lennon's handwritten lyric for the Beatles song "I'm Only Sleeping", consigned by a former friend of Lennon's called Pete Shotton after a cover of the song by the former Madness singer Graham "Suggs" McPherson entered the charts.
The lyrics were jotted down by Lennon on the back of a bill for the car phone in his Rolls-Royce Phantom. The 30-year-old piece of paper is estimated at up pounds 30,000 although it originally threatened Lennon with disconnection for non-payment.
Bob Dylan's lyrics for "Obviously Five Believers", from the album Blonde on Blonde, are also up for sale with an estimate of up to pounds 8,000. The lyrics contain numerous corrections and crossings out. The word "meant" is replaced by "means" in one line - "I would tell you what he means if I didn't have to try so hard" - and one phrase "You see my bloodstream" is discarded. On a more modern note are the lyrics for Blondie's "Heart of Glass", written in blue felt pen on yellow paper and with a lipstick kiss. Signed by Debbie Harry, they are expected to fetch pounds 300 to pounds 400. Equally reasonable are Bruce Springsteen's handwritten lyrics for the poignant ballad "Mansion on the Hill" from the 1982 album Nebraska. Written in blue ballpoint, the lyrics are unfinished and estimated at up to pounds 500. More valuable are Bono's draft lyrics for U2's "Stranger In A Strange Land" on paper headed Windmill Lane Recording Studios, estimated at pounds 3,000.
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