Bob Dylan: My Back Pages Meaning
My Back Pages Lyrics
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...
Bob Dylan wrote this song in 1964, as he was starting to make huge changes in both his style of music and the themes of his lyrics.
Up to this point, Dylan had played simple, stark acoustic folk music, in the style of his hero, Woody Guthrie. And his lyrics were very serious takes on the important political causes of the day. Thanks to songs like "Blowing in the Wind" and "The Times They Are a-Changing," Dylan was being hailed as a prophet and and important political commentator.
In "My Back Pages," Dylan tries to distance himself from the serious political commentator people took him for. He seems to be saying several things, including:
1) I took myself WAY too seriously!
2) I'm NOT really that smart, and I have no business acting as if I know all the answers. I'm not qualified to be a prophet or anybody's guru.
3) The world's problems are complicated, and some of my songs made things seem too simple, too black and white.
When Dylan sang "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now," I think he was suggesting that, a few years earlier, he'd been too serious in his songs, and he was now ready to be a little sillier and more playful, to have more fun with his music.
It's not a coincidence that he went electric, and started to rock out more the following year.
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