My Back Pages

My favorite radio station, WFUV (90.7 FM) just played the Byrds’ cover of my favorite song, Dylan’s “My Back Pages”. As a former student radical, way back when,  I appreciate the sentiment.

UPDATE: I found the full lyrics: And while searching, found this incredible video of the song performed by Dylan, Roger McGuinn, Tom Petty, Neil Young, George Harrison, Eric Clapton and more. Sorry that I can’t figure out how to embed the Yahoo video, but click the link – well worth it. That must have been a hell of a concert.

Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin’ high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps
“We’ll meet on edges, soon,” said I
Proud ’neath heated brow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
“Rip down all hate,” I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull. I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

Girls’ faces formed the forward path
From phony jealousy
To memorizing politics
Of ancient history
Flung down by corpse evangelists
Unthought of, though, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

A self-ordained professor’s tongue
Too serious to fool
Spouted out that liberty
Is just equality in school
“Equality,” I spoke the word
As if a wedding vow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I’d become my enemy
In the instant that I preach
My pathway led by confusion boats
Mutiny from stern to bow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats
Too noble to neglect
Deceived me into thinking
I had something to protect
Good and bad, I define these terms
Quite clear, no doubt, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

7 Comments

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7 responses to “My Back Pages

  1. Anonymous

    Pretty cool!!

    I saw the byrds in the early 70’s at the Bottom Line..Tom Petty was the warm up act…they both played “American Girl” and I swear Roger Mcguin was superior to Petty…Pretty great show…Dylan also gave Mcguin this lyric…”the river flows, the river flows..the river flows to the sea- where ever that river flows is where i want to be—Flow river flow”

  2. Yikes. I’m an Eng. tchr., so I should be able to paraphrase the song. But I’ve never mastered it.

    I’ve always had the sense that it meant, “I was pretty certain about a lot of things, back in the day; now that I’m older, I realize I didn’t know what I thought I knew.” An epistemological treatise, perhaps?

    Even if that’s right, there are lots of lines I can’t decipher. (I’m obviously one o’ those lousy tchrs y’all inveigh against.)

    • I’ve always had the sense that it meant, “I was pretty certain about a lot of things, back in the day; now that I’m older, I realize I didn’t know what I thought I knew.”

      That’s how I understand it LLS. And it’s an understanding that grows deeper with each passing year.

  3. Yup. Someday, if we live long enough, we’ll both realize that we . . . don’t . . . know . . . nuttin. I’m getting close.

  4. Mr. Independent

    CF, I think your English teacher would have given you an A. I always loved the Byrds’ interpretations of Dylan. Nobody did it better. I got to see them twice when Crosby was still with the band and once afterward. Ah that 2nd hand smoke at the Filmore East at $5 a ticket.

  5. pulled up in OG

    For What It’s Worth

  6. not so anonymous

    What a masterpiece…and how the heck did he get there so young? The only line I have never really embraced is the line “abstract threats….decieved me into thinking I had something to protect”. I have plenty to protect. and it’s all good….. : )
    One of the pleasures of living where I do is that I have had the privledge of crossing paths with some of these band veterans and actually playing with some of them, esp. Bruce Palmer, from Buffalo Springfield. Sadly, he has passed away …