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Bob Dylan's childhood poem was based on existing tune

Bob Dylan

Christie's auction house said Wednesday that an early Bob Dylan poem was based on an existing country tune.

"Little Buddy," estimated to fetch $10,000 to $15,000 once it goes on sale June 23, was "a revised version of lyrics of a Hank Snow song," Christie's said.

Fans of the late Canadian country singer "came out of the woodwork" to say they recognized the lyrics after the Associated Press wrote about the composition on Tuesday, said Christie's pop culture specialist Simeon Lipman.

Dylan was 16 and still going by his given name Bob Zimmerman when he submitted "Little Buddy" in the summer of 1957 for a newspaper at a summer camp in Webster, Wis.

Simeon said Wednesday that the verse is still "among the earliest known handwritten lyrics of Bob Dylan," and expected to draw collectors.

According to the Hank Snow Country Music Center Web site, the lyrics and music for "Little Buddy" were composed by Snow, who died in 1999. The song was recorded in 1947 and became the singer's standard on the Grand Ole Opry stage in Nashville, where he performed for 46 years. It tells the story of Little Buddy, who is killed at the hands of a drunkard, and the boy who mourns him.

Dylan revised the lyrics by changing some words around and adding some of his own, in effect following an old folk and country tradition. Dylan's version was about a boy mourning the loss of a dog.

An e-mail message left with Dylan's Los Angeles publicist was not immediately returned.

Holly Guncheon, the camp's development director, said Dylan, who turns 68 on Sunday, told camp officials through his nieces and nephews who work at the camp to "do what you want with it."