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 existence 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

Lyrics submitted by roger wilco, edited by wbnyc

My Back Pages Lyrics as written by Bob Dylan

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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My Back Pages song meanings
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  • +6
    General Comment
    Zero, you had it right the first time. He was talking about his past when he would point fingers at leaders/politicians/teachers out of anger for them having preached their ideas to the public, but he didn't realize that he was no better by doing the same thing. Anyway, you guys pretty much hit the nail on the head in my opinion. He's taking a step back from the "savior of a generation" status everyone bestowed on him and basically saying, "You know, I was growing up and expressing my ideas through my work, thats all. I didn't necessarily have all the right answers for you all...I know more now than I did then."
    songofishon November 19, 2006   Link
  • +4
    General Comment
    "Using ideas as my maps...." I have that line tattooed. There's no way anyone can dispute the beauty of these lyrics. It's poetry by a genius poet.
    cherujon January 15, 2006   Link
  • +4
    General Comment
    I would really like to know one thing. How could someone in their teens come up with this: "Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats Too noble to neglect Deceived me into thinking I had something to protect" I was 50 before I saw the truth of this kind of serenity. I mean the ego taking over and a fighting attitude towards perceived threats that have nothing to do with what we really are in essence. Read The Power of Now if you interested in what i am getting at.
    tomconway53on April 18, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General Comment
    "Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now" Man, no words for that!
    DarkLedBetteron July 06, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General Comment
    For what it's worth, my interpretation is it's similar to what Michael Stipe wrote in 'What's the Frequency Kenneth' in the line 'irony was the shackles of youth'. The irony being that when you're young you're so certain you know everything as if you're old & wise and when you're older you are less certain as if you're actually young and don't know much, more circumspect and aware things can be shades of grey. So it's the irony in 'I was so much older then I'm younger than that now', that's it's all ass(arse) about face. Older wiser is being freed from the shackles Great to hear from other passionate Dylan fans out there.
    skiwion October 22, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General Comment
    How could you forget the other one? He's the best of the lot - Roger McGuinn from the Byrds, the band that best interpreted Dylan and made his music accessible to the masses. The bset rendition of this song is on the 30th anniversary concert done in about 1993. A classic, as is Mr Tambourine Man. Song's meaning? About being indoctrinated at a young age and thinking that you knew it all and that there was nothing left to learn. Later you realise that you have a lot more to learn ie. "But I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now"
    chrisb1on January 20, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General Comment
    Dylan accepted an award presented by a New York liberal institution called the Emergency Civil Rights Committee on the evening of December 13, 1963. Dylan said "It's taken me a long to time to get young, and now I consider myself young." Perhaps this is where the refrain from this song came from, and his rejection of well-meaning left rhetoric.
    BernadetteBenedicton June 15, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Comment
    "another side of bob dylan" was released in 1964, a year before he went electric at newport. the reaction of the crowd to his electric sound has nothing to do with song.
    sun_gianton January 25, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Comment
    To quote another 20th century genius,Bucky Fuller-"We're all born a genius, but life has a way of de-geniusing you". I believe that this lyric indicates that open mindedness gets crushed early in life due to indoctrinations of many kinds .We can only become young and open minded again when we are mature enough to realize this and learn to see and observe with the honesty of a true Artist.
    motomanon December 10, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment
    dylan is lamenting having been too idealistic for compromise, finding himself the mirror image of those he defined as 'the enemy' and realizing the world is more grey than black/white. he's describing being more aware of the world the way it is rather than how he felt it could be. it's a bit of a reconciliation between an older man (who feels younger, having been freed from his idealism and hard-charging, never-ending, and exhausting soldier for righteousness character) and settled to being more realistic about his surroundings and where he and society are going. or something.
    Infinitly Surrealon October 08, 2007   Link

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