My Back Pages

Album: Younger than Yesterday (1967)
Charted: 30
Play Video


  • 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Kevin - Reading, PA
  • Dylan recorded his version in 1964 on his Another Side of Bob Dylan album. The song is famous for the lyrics, "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now."
  • With lines like "My pathway led by confusion boats" and "I dreamed romantic facts of musketeers," this is a rather cryptic song, but it likely deals with Dylan's efforts to distance himself from politics.

    The Byrds never knew Dylan's intentions. "I don't try to interpret what Bob meant when he wrote the song," Roger McGuinn said in a Songfacts interview. "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.

Comments: 16

  • Marie N. from NyAmerica performs a beautiful version of My Back Pages
  • Don G from NyThe Byrds version is slightly different from Dylan's (and Dylan's version had more verses). They've listed a few wrong words here for the Byrds version. Listen closely with headphones and see for yourself. 'Countless fire on flaming roads' (he does not say the word 'with' before the word 'fire'); 'Romantic flights of musketeers' (he does not say 'Romantic facts'); 'At the mongrels of (sounds like 'sub-teach' but 'sub' is not clearly distinguishable - however, he does not the words 'dogs' or 'who'); and 'Fearing not I'd become my enemy' (he does not say the word 'that' before the word 'I'd').
  • Angi from Yonkers NyOlder, younger …. All the same
  • T Welch from ArkansasThe more I listen to and learn about the Byrds, the more I like and respect them.
  • Buddy Blackburn from Lafayette, IndianaI think The Bryds are one of the greatest bands that came out of the 60's. They can cover a song from any artist and make it sound good, it's very a band can do that.
  • Miles from Vancouver, CanadaCyberpope...I think what Josep means is the cover that was performed by Dylan, Harrison, Petty, Young AND Clapton together, not as individuals. Roger McGuinn was part of that "supergroup" as well. Could it have been a Wilburys reboot? Who knows? But yes, it's a great song by Dylan himself, the Byrds...and the uber-Wilburys, if you will. Also, I think the keywords of the song are meant as a paradox. Think of the Simpsons episode where Frank Ormand says, "Ah, but that was the old me...which ironically was the young me!"
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 26th 1967, the Byrds' covered version of "My Back Pages" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #86; five weeks later on April 30th, 1967 it would peak at #30 {for 1 week} and spent 7 weeks on the Top 100...
    Was track three of side two on the group's fourth studio album, 'Younger Than Yesterday', and the album peaked at #24 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart...
    Two other tracks from the album also made the Top 100 chart; "So You Want to Be a Rock 'n Roll Star" {peaked at #29} and "Have You Seen Her Face" {reached #74}...
    Between 1965 and 1970 the LA-formed quintet had sixteen Top 100 records; two made the Top 10 and both reached #1, "Mr. Tambourine Man" {for 1 week in 1965} and "Turn! Turn! Turn!" {For 3 weeks in 1965}.
  • Cyberpope from Richmond, CanadaDylan didn't cover this song; he WROTE(& performed) it!
  • Cyberpope from Richmond, CanadaRather annoying that nobody credits Dylan for this song any more -- it's always "by the Byrds"
  • John from Colorado Springs, Co"My Back Pages"...'Brilliantly conceived, flawlessly executed!' The Dylan cover mentioned above, including the musical stylings of Harrison, Petty, Young, Clapton, and, of course, Dylan...lets not forget Roger McGuinn, was from "Bob Dylan's 30th Anniversary Concert". Some brilliant arrangements from some of the most remarkable musicians in modern times!
  • Daniela from Buenos Aires, ArgentinaI love this song, it's my favourite from the Byrds!
  • Josep from Dubrovnik, CroatiaMy favorite version of this song was a cover by Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Neil Young, and Eric Clapton.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyAnother great song that faced the 1960s 'AM' radio ax; album version was 3:08 but 'AM' radio version was 2:31 Bruce Springsteen sang this song during his sound check for a concert in Chapel Hill, NC on 3-4-1988 but didn't perform it in the actual concert???
  • Niles from Belpre, OhI think I still have this album
  • David from Youngstown, OhWhile the Byrds did many, many Dylan songs (including an entire album), this stands out as their best.
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InYep, Dylan nails something so well lyrically, then The Byrds do it right musically.
    The recurring phrase used throughout is yet another in a long line of ironic, deliberately anachronistic phrases in the Dylan canon.
    "I was so much older then/I'm younger than that now."
    Fantastic wordplay, and I completely understood it when I first heard this on the radio.
    Universal, brilliant, and timeless.
    Anyone who has had a tough time growing up, emerging with happiness at a later time, will jerk his head back to the radio the first time he ever hears that!
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Tom Waits Lyrics Quiz

Tom Waits Lyrics QuizMusic Quiz

Pool balls, magpies and thorns without roses - how well do you know your Tom Waits lyrics?

Janis Ian

Janis IanSongwriter Interviews

One of the first successful female singer-songwriters, Janis had her first hit in 1967 at age 15.

Yoko Ono

Yoko OnoSongwriter Interviews

At 80 years old, Yoko has 10 #1 Dance hits. She discusses some of her songs and explains what inspired John Lennon's return to music in 1980.

Goodbye, Hello: Ten Farewell Tour Fake-Outs

Goodbye, Hello: Ten Farewell Tour Fake-OutsSong Writing

The 10 biggest "retirement tours" that didn't take.

Janet Jackson

Janet JacksonFact or Fiction

Was Janet secretly married at 18? Did she gain 60 pounds for a movie role that went to Mariah Carey? See what you know about Ms. Jackson.

Songs About Movies

Songs About MoviesSong Writing

Iron Maiden, Adele, Toto, Eminem and Earth, Wind & Fire are just some of the artists with songs directly inspired by movies - and not always good ones.