Lennon’s ‘A Day in the Life’ lyrics for sale

lennon lyricsJohn Lennon’s handwritten lyrics to “A Day in the Life” are up for auction (oh boy).

Update 6/18/10: The “A Day in the Life” lyrics went for $1.2 million, about the same paid for the handwritten sheet for “All You Need Is Love.” Some lucky American. (/update)

The sheet has two versions of the song, one on each side. The first version is a rough draft, although all lyrics shown appear in the song. One of the Beatles’ best-known productions, it was the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album’s closing number — known for its druggy vibe and the eternal ending chord — a true psychedelic classic.

The Sotheby’s auction is set for June 18. The estimated price could hit $700,000, according to the auction house, although Beatles collectors are speculating the price could be a record for their handwritten song sheets. The lyrics to “All You Need Is Love” went for $1 million five years ago.

The lyric sheet reportedly belonged to longtime Beatles roadie/assistant Mal Evans, who died in 1976. His estate sold the “A Day in the Life” lyrics via Sotheby’s in 1992, with the final bid near $100,000. The owner’s bid to sell the lyrics in 2006 failed to draw a suitable bid, with expectations as high as $2 million.

Sotheby’s describes “A Day in the Life” as “the revolutionary song that marked the Beatles’ transformation from pop icons to artists,” apparently never having heard “Rubber Soul” or “Revolver.” The auction house notes that the song had “a depth that was absent from the Beatle�s earlier pop songs.” Indeed, the song is filled with studio stunts and incorporates a 40-piece orchestra. The final E maj chord — played by multiple people on three pianos — is among the most famous in music, no doubt out there still resonating. (Hear the “Oh, shit” work version of the Beatles psychedelic classic.)

McCartney’s “Woke up, fell out of bed” section doesn’t appear on the lyrics, but its insertion for the middle 8 is indicated on the second side of the sheet, which has the more polished version of Lennon’s lyrics, all capitalized. There are crossouts and corrections on both versions. The line “I love to turn you on” appears added later, in different ink.

Lennon and McCartney’s songwriting partnership had pretty much run its course by the time of “A Day in the Life.”

McCartney successfully sued the Evans estate in 1992 to halt the sale of the handwritten lyrics for “With a Little Help From My Friends.” The songwriter noted that Evans kept lyrics sheets as part of his job with the Beatles. Ten years later, McCartney stopped an auction of his “Hey Jude” lyrics, which had been stolen from his home.

Essential reading: Abbey Road studio’s diary of the “A Day in the Life” sessions.

“A Day in the Life” lyrics (Lennon/McCartney)

I read the news today oh boy
About a lucky man who made the grade
And though the news was rather sad
Well I just had to laugh
I saw the photograph

He blew his mind out in a car
He didn’t notice that the lights had changed
A crowd of people stood and stared
They’d seen his face before
Nobody was really sure
If he was from the House of Lords.

I saw a film today oh boy
The English Army had just won the war
A crowd of people turned away
but I just had to look
Having read the book

I’d love to turn you on

Woke up, fell out of bed,
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup,
And looking up I noticed I was late.
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke,
and somebody spoke and I went into a dream

I read the news today oh boy
4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall.

I’d love to turn you on

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