My Back Pages


As I enter the new year and get a year older, it seems like I’m actually getting younger. The thing I hate most about growing older is that it takes so darn long before you get there.


But, once you get there (older, that is), it seems you actually get smarter. Oh, sure, you sometimes can’t recall what day it is or where you left your keys… that’s a result of short-term memory. But, let’s see, where was I? That’s strange, I don’t remember being absent minded. Oh, I was about to say that it seems like my long-term memory has vastly improved. For example, I still remember where I was and what I was doing when I went horseback riding in the High Sierras, when I was a little tyke, back in the 50s. I was sitting in the saddle behind my pappy as we went clippity-clopping up the winding trail alongside Big Pine Creek.


This also happens when I’m driving along listening to the radio and a song comes on that I haven’t heard in eons, like “Lonesome Town” by Ricky Nelson. “There’s a place where lovers go to cry their troubles away, and they call it Lonesome Town, where the broken hearts stay.”


This was a slow dance song and always the last one played at the sock hops I went to in the junior high school gymnasium. Not only that, but I still remember little what’s her name, the hot blonde babe I was dancing with.


Well, I remember everything about her, especially her resemblance to Marilyn Monroe, except, obviously, her name. Increasingly, I find words creeping into my head that I haven’t used in eons – words like eon, impervious, claptrap, clandestine, scintillating and imbroglio.


There’s actually scientific evidence that your memory improves as you get older. According to an article in Time magazine, a UCLA neurologist has discovered that, as we age, we begin to maximize the ability to use the entirety of information stored in our brain on a second-to-second basis. Biologically, that’s what’s known as wisdom. It’s almost as if I was older then and younger now.


“Crimson flames tied through my ears, rolling 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.” (“My Back Pages” – The Byrds – 1964 – written by Bob Dylan)


Nobel Prize laureate Dylan, who is widely known for some pretty obscure lyrics and references, was wise enough in his twilight years recently to sell his entire music catalogue and reap the bounty of its value while still alive, which once again proves that you get smarter as you age.


“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.”


Keep it flyin’ Uncle Mott