Bob Dylan’s Handwritten Lyrics to ‘Wisconsin’ Song Head to Auction
Bob Dylan‘s handwritten lyrics of an unpublished 1961 song about Wisconsin will hit the auction block on March 30th.
Nate D. Sanders Auctions will conduct the auction, with the opening bid set at $30,000. According to the auction house, Dylan penned the lyrics in November 1961, months after he moved to New York City and signed with Columbia Records. Dylan gave the lyric sheet to musician and one-time roommate Peter Crago.
Prior to moving to New York, Dylan had spent time (unsuccessfully) working the folk scene in Madison, Wisconsin in 1960 after dropping out of the University of Minnesota. Dylan also spent his summers as a youth at a Wisconsin’s Camp Herzl.
Although the lyrics don’t exactly hint at Dylan’s future Nobel Laureate greatness – “I’ll tune my banjo than the hills / And feast on milk and cream / And stamp my foot all thru the grass / And never know a care” – they are a heartfelt ode to the Badger State.
“I’m always dubious when a ‘newly discovered Dylan manuscript’ shows up at auction,” Jeff Gold, a music historian who appraised the Bob Dylan Archive, tells Rolling Stone. “There have been any number of forgeries sold as authentic over the years. This one, however, is the real deal. It’s a long way from the kind of writing that won him the Nobel Prize, but it’s still noteworthy as an example of Dylan’s early songwriting.”
The winning bid will also receive a certificate of authenticity. It’s unlikely that the “Wisconsin” ode will approach the $2 million Dylan’s handwritten draft for “Like a Rolling Stone” netted at auction in 2014.
Read Dylan’s “Wisconsin” lyrics, with its original spelling mistakes, below:
“1. Wisconson [sic] is the dairy state
I guess you all know well
I was in Wow Wow Toaster there
The truth to you I’ll tell
It’s milk & cheese & cream
I’ve known ’em all my days
I’m going back to my hometown I’m leaving right aways
2. I’m a heading out Wisconson ways
2000 miles to go
Madison, Milwakee [sic] set’s my heart aglow
I’m a coming to that dairy state
My heart’s a beating fast
I’ll jerk my banjo gently there
And twiddle my mustache
3. There’s thoughts I left there long ago
One a coming now it seems
I’ll tune my banjo than the hills
And feast on milk and cream
And stamp my foot all thru the grass
And never know a care
My homes in Wow Wow Toaster
And I’m a going there
The song continues on the verso:
1. These people with you city ways
Are driving me insane to drink
My home’s in Wisconson it’s a better place I think
I’ve been in California
My home’s in Wisconson
And I’m gonna own the town