August 6, 2005

Bob Dylan Lyrics - My Back Pages

For the longest time Lennon's Imagine was #1 but this is probably my favorite song right now:

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.


So much of life is spent unlearning the bullshit others try to teach you.

Anything can be taken out of context and put in a new one to grant it another meaning. Those that aim to control the context or meaning of words often have ambitious goals which place themselves ahead of others, and require society pay the price for being sucker enough to listen.

I am not ashamed to admit that words have hurt me, but as I live more I aim to make them hurt less. Of course, you should find your own definitions that don't include me, as there might be hidden messages in the lyrics of this song or the keys I am typing right now.

Posted at August 6, 2005 6:17 AM
Comments

You say it beautifully, and Dylan's song is one of my favorites as well. Thank you for putting it all so eloquently.

After nearly 40 years, "My Back Pages" remains (imo) one of the greatest works I've ever heard.

When it was released by the Byrds (on the "Younger Than Yesterday" album) in 2/67 it became nearly instantly anthemic. The only shame was that the Byrds didn't include all verses (no doubt due to AM radio airplay time contraints of the day ... same thing happened to "Mr. Tambourine Man").

For those of us who were 'there' at the time and with our senses and judgment more or less intact at the present, let us question ourselves. Are we really "younger than that now?" We've certainly had ample time to think about it.

At the time, I didn't understand, but now I know that I'm definitely younger than that now.

the lines that sum up the song are:
A self-ordained professor's tongue
Too serious to fool
where you take things as gospel because of who says it rather than what they say.

i am reminded of a quote.
[Thinking is] what a great many people think they are doing when they are merely rearranging their prejudices. ~William James
i believe they are both saying you must listen to the words rather than just hearing them.

have you heard the version on the dylan 30th anniversary concert? that one rocks. also what does the line: Flung down by corpse evangelists
mean?

the flung down by corpse evangelists probably means being singled out and discredited by politicians

The song, like many of Dylan's hold many meanings to different people. Personally the opening lines have the most effect on me, because they are amazingly poetic and hold something entrancing about them, using ideas as your maps.
"Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin' high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps"
I refence you all to this video, which is and shall be the best ever live performance of a dylan song ever.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKr755-QUC8

I have fallen in love with this song. I am 27 and younger in age thin many her but I would like to try to explain what this songs meaning is for me. This song is about losing the things you stand for when you are young. One would think as you grow older that your beliefs would solidify but I have found so many things in life as I have gotten older are less clear. When I was younger things were concrete, right and wrong with little in the way of a gray area. I had beliefs that I stood fast behind no mater what. Now things like, ďdo a little evil for a grater goodĒ come into play. Exceptions to my principals and complicated viewpoints are abundant. As Iíve grown older and the world has taken its tolls I become more jaded My hard fast rules seem to get left to the way side. The things that shaped my decision making when I was younger donít care the same influence now when it comes to things like your own kids. Your decision making becomes less noble and in a way more selfish for you and yours--family. So your thought parses becomes more like a childís involving the small world around you not the hole wide world like when your 18 and ready to change the world.

I did not try to define all the verses but I did most.

Crimson flames tied through my ears ---- when my hear was still red/brown

Using ideas as my maps---- when you still fallowed your demes

Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
"Rip down all hate," I screamed---- things you stood for peace

Lies that life is black and white--- as you get older you find they are not

Spoke from my skull. I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow.--- romantic ideas of swashbuckling shivery and noble right and wrong

Girls' faces formed the forward path
From phony jealousy--- when your decision making and ideas had more to do with what that cute little college girl sitting next to thought.

A self-ordained professor's tongue
Too serious to fool--- young and so full of your self that no one could tell you were wrong

"Equality," I spoke the word
As if a wedding vow.--- like an important vow that you will carry your hole life

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--- thinking that your parents, teachers, and prefacers donít get it. They donít see the world fore what it is through all the lies and bull shit. They are just perpetuating the lies. You canít be the same as them in telling the world your beliefs because your beliefs are right.

My pathway led by confusion boats--- when your young you know what you believe but you have know idea were your going.

Mutiny from stern to bow.--- when your young you are rebelling from every thing even if you donít know why.

Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats
Too noble to neglect
Deceived me into thinking
I had something to protect--- when your young your fighting fore your beliefs even if your not shore who or what your protecting this idea from. Your more so, protecting the belief of the right to have different ideas.

Good and bad, I define these terms
Quite clear, no doubt, somehow ---- I decided whatís good and bad fore my self not because someone says so

In the "My pathway led by confusion boats" i don;t hear it clearly but it seem not the word My pathway

"Ah, but I was so much older then,
"I'm younger than that now".

I think is about the moral arrogance of youth decaying into the reality of life.

When I cast my ballot for Barack Obama, I was listening to this song.

Incidentally, I thought that the lyric was "my existence led by confusion bodes" for the longest time -- I think it works well either way, though, it fits whether he sang "boats" or "bodes".

I disagree with David Smith's contention of what the refrain "Ah, but I was so much older then, / I'm younger than that now" is mean to indicate. Perhaps it's just me, but when I think back to my youth -- and I know how strange it might seem to sound -- but I feel like life was bathed in sunlight. Meaning that things seemed better, brighter, happier. Of course, one would be a fool to think that there was ever such a time -- this is just memory at work. However, I think this might be what Bob is intending; "I was so much older then" indicates the moral arrogance, when our sociopolitical relations are jaded in terms of what is best for ME, while "I'm younger than that now" is a harkening back to this utopia of the mind, when color and faith and money were negligible differences. It reminds me of playing ball with a few kids that lived down the street when I was growing up... Ask me then, they were my friends. How soon did I "learn" that they were my friends, BUT (always a "but") they were black. Who cares? The world did. Not me.

Also, am I the only one who gets a little teary and feel absolutely and completely committed to doing whatever is possible to make it so when Bob sings, "'Equality,' I spoke the word as if a wedding vow"? I mean, without fail, I feel so terribly for those who spend their lives amassing wealth and insignificant bullshit just so they can feel like they came out on top. Why is there a top and bottom to begin with? Through what sick invention of the human mind did we come to decide that it was alright for some to live on a dollar a day while an entire country is worrying about an economy of greed and hatred? Bob gets me every time; equality should be exactly how he characterizes it in "My Back Pages".

This song is what I want my life to be.

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