Byrds – My Back Pages

Possibly my favorite song of the Byrds. I like the Byrds arrangement of this great Bob Dylan song. Roger McGuinn’s voice plus Rickenbacker is always a winning combination. Dylan recorded his version in 1964 on his Another Side of Bob Dylan album. I fell for the song because of the line, I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now. Just a great phrase…

On the countless Dylan songs that are covered, I will usually like Dylan’s version better…on this one I prefer the Byrds. The song peaked at #30 in the Billboard 100 in 1967.

From Songfacts.

Already skilled at turning acoustic Dylan folk tunes into melodic, electric folk-rockers, the Byrds struck gold when they decided to take this somewhat nondescript Dylan tune from 1964 and electrify it for their fourth album. Leader Roger McGuinn cut out two of the more abstract verses and fashioned a chorus where there really wasn’t one, utilizing David Crosby’s harmony singing. McGuinn also does a classic 12-string Rickenbacker solo and Van Dyke Parks fills things out with a soft but essential organ part. As a single it stalled at #30 in 1967, but its reputation as a rock classic has grown through the years. 

In his Songfacts interview, Roger McGuinn of The Byrds said: “I don’t try to interpret what Bob meant when he wrote the song. He doesn’t do that, and to do that, you spoil it for people who have a different meaning of the song.”

The phrase “back pages” never shows up in the lyrics, but it became a favorite saying amongst music writers, who used the term to describe an archive, either literal or figurative. A notable use is the music journalism collection Rock’s Backpages.

My Back Pages

Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin’ high and mighty traps
Countless 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

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
Sisters fled by confusion boats
Mutiny from stern to bow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

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

Author: badfinger20

Guitar, Bass, song writer,

8 thoughts on “Byrds – My Back Pages”

  1. The Byrds’ version of this song, and not Dylan’s, is the one I know best for some reason. I really love it. Roger opened his solo shows with it in recent years. The audience would hear him singing, the line, “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now”, before he walked onto stage, where he’d finish the song. The insightful imagery in the lyrics throughout the entire song knocks my socks off. It really is compelling poetry set to music. “With ideas as my map”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bob was/is the king of imagery. He wrote like this in the early to mid sixties then he changed. This is my favorite version of it.
      I could listen to Roger sing and play all day long. I saw him in 88.

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s