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My Back Pages by Bob Dylan

May 4, 2014

I have never really thought to try to understood a lot of Dylan’s lyrics, such as Subterranean Homesick Blues or My Back Pages.  And until today, I have never tried to find out what anyone else thought.  If you Google “Meaning of My Back Pages” you get a bunch of hits.  This one is typical, and is really more than anything I have ever even wanted to think about.  I am struck instead by phrases/concepts like being older then and younger now or “in the soldier’s stance . . . ” stanza.

My affection for Dylan is pretty basic.  On a culture podcast a while back I listened to some dude (a political correspondent) psychoanalyzing on the violence in the Duquesne Whistle video from Dylan’s new album vis Dylan’s growing older and his relationship with women.  I could only think  “Hmm . . . that seems really irrelevant to anything I get when listening to Bob Dylan.”  So for me, Dylan’s stories are not transparent like reading Joyce Kilmer’s Trees (that I memorized in elementary school) but rather bits of disjointed images and vignettes, that are good to think about.

 

My Back Pages by Bob Dylan

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

Copyright © 1964 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1992 by Special Rider Music

 

 

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Susie permalink
    June 17, 2014 1:20 pm

    Love it! Thanks for sharing.

Trackbacks

  1. Ballad of A Thin Man by Bob Dylan | Archaeology, Museums & Outreach

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