The original, handwritten lyrics of The Beatles’ melancholy rock song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” are going on the auction block Monday.
The lyrics, written by George Harrison on a single white sheet of paper in a barely legible chicken scratch, are expected to fetch between $500,000 and $800,000 at the Barrett-Jackson Rock on the Block Memorabilia Auction in Scottsdale.
Britain-based entertainment auction house Cooper Owen, which is partnering with Scottsdale-based auctioneer Barrett-Jackson, is selling the lyrics for a private collector and calls the sheet of paper “the most significant Beatles’ lyric manuscript known to exist.”
“It’s just a really significant and rare piece of memorabilia,” said Neil Roberts, auction manager at Cooper Owen. “It shows the work in progress, the message, and the thoughts behind one of the band members.”
“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” came out in 1968 on The White Album.
The lyrics, which are said to reveal the strains within the band at the time, include lines like, “I don’t know how someone controlled you,” and “They bought and sold you.”
But the sheet of paper up for bid includes some lyrics that didn’t make it into the song that was on The White Album, including, “I look from the wings at the play you are staging,” and “As I’m sitting here doing nothing but aging, still my guitar gently weeps.”
“These lyrics actually show the work in progress,” Roberts said. “It shows how he (Harrison) changed certain lines. It shows it on the day he wrote that song and played it with his fellow Beatles.”
Also on the paper is a line at the bottom of the page that Harrison wrote in apparent frustration over the troubled atmosphere in the recording studio. It reads, “The band leader said he ain’t playin’ no more.”
Roberts said that line is most revealing.
“It shows his feelings for how the band was going and almost the breakdown of communication,” he said. “He kind of realized it was coming to end.”
Also up for bid at the Barrett-Jackson auction are dozens of celebrity items, including a pair of gloves Madonna wore during a concert, a book report written by Britney Spears, Cat Stevens’ arrest card and Ella Fitzgerald’s old credit card.