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Springsteen's handwritten 'Born to Run' lyrics sell for $197K

On December 5, almost 40 years later, the handwritten genesis of 'Born to Run,' one of Bruce Springsteen's biggest hits -- and one of rock 'n' roll's most well-known songs -- will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Sotheby's New York expects the manuscript, which features 30 lines and marginal notations scrawled in blue ink, to fetch between $70,000 and $100,000.
Credit: Courtesy Sotheby's

CNN Staff

(CNN) -- Turns out that Bruce Springsteen's scribblings were worth more than the auctioneers imagined.

An anonymous $197,000 bid won Thursday's auction for handwritten lyrics to Springsteen's 1975 hit song "Born to Run." The purchase was part of a "Fine Books and Manuscripts including Americana" auction at Sotheby's auction house in New York.

The starting bid was $40,000, and Sotheby's had expected the manuscript, which features 30 lines and marginal notations scrawled in blue ink, to fetch between $70,000 and $100,000.

"Born to Run" reached only No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it aged well, earning the No. 21 spot on Rolling Stone magazine's list of all-time greatest songs and being named among the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 songs that shaped the genre.

Springsteen explained the song's birth in a statement issued by Sotheby's. He wrote the lyrics in his Long Branch, New Jersey, home in early 1974, after releasing two albums that gave him little commercial success.

"One day I was playing my guitar on the edge of the bed, working on some song ideas, and the words 'born to run' came to me," Springsteen said. "At first I thought it was the name of a movie or something I'd seen on a car spinning around the circuit. I liked the phrase because it suggested a cinematic drama that I thought would work with the music that I'd been hearing in my head."

The 1975 track became Springsteen's first worldwide release. Sotheby's said that although many of the original lyrics never made it to the recording booth, the chorus was "nearly perfected" in the handwritten manuscript.

CNN's Eliott C. McLaughlin and Luisa Navarro contributed to this report.

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