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I ran into an expression "to do back that far" and I couldn't understand the meaning from the context. I tried to find similar ones, but it seems that such expressions are not very common. So, I've found only one example:

"These songs, they're like mystery stories, the kind that Shakespeare saw when he was growing up. I think you could trace what I do back that far. They were on the fringes then, and I think they're on the fringes now. And they sound like they've been on the hard ground."

What does it really mean?

P.S. Another example:

He's absolutely out there, you know, with his theories. Some of them do back far but this deuterium thing that he's nailed at the moment really really does interest me.

  • What context? That is precisely what we need to explain what it means to you. However, I doubt that |**to** do back that far| makes sense. Here we have: To trace something back that far. The previous context in the conversation is needed. – Lambie Aug 14 '18 at 13:03
  • @Lambie I've added context just now. – Sergey Aug 14 '18 at 13:09
  • "Some of them do back far" doesn't make sense to me. I wonder if that was a transcription error. – stangdon Aug 14 '18 at 14:53
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"These songs, they're like mystery stories, the kind that Shakespeare saw when he was growing up. I think you could trace what I do back that far. They were on the fringes then, and I think they're on the fringes now. And they sound like they've been on the hard ground."

The use of "back that far" here refers to Shakespeare's time.

Here is the parse: I think you can trace||what I do||back that far [to Shakespeare's time.]

So, the writer is saying that he writes songs that can be traced back that far. that far = to the time of Shakespeare.

In speaking, we often use this kind of shortened phrasing to refer back to something that has already been said that.

The second sentence is "off" somehow:

"He's absolutely out there, you know, with his theories. Some of them do back far but this deuterium thing that he's nailed at the moment really really does interest me."

He might have meant: go back far [go back a long way??] But, as cited, it makes no sense.

  • The second sentence was actually the first I ran into. All I could find similar was that about songs. So, if he really meant "go" I can't understand it anyway. What could it mean that "his theories go back a long way..."? That they are related to something that was already known in the past? – Sergey Aug 14 '18 at 13:39
  • Or that "he gets this far" in his theories? – Sergey Aug 14 '18 at 13:44
  • And about "deuterium thing" - is it a figurative meaning like something extraordinary? – Sergey Aug 14 '18 at 13:48
  • To go back a long way=to be old historically or in time. Newton's theories go back a long way=are old, go back in time. I have no idea about the deuterium thing. Obviously, I am not a chemist. To get this far: to get to this point. Please note: this and that are very often used in English to refer to earlier points in a conversation or in remarks. You and I have gotten this far [up to this point] in our discussion. – Lambie Aug 14 '18 at 14:35
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    @Sergey Not as far as I am aware. I know of no expression in English with that. Bear in mind, again, that in spoken language, you can take any noun and add thing like this example, to mean a topic or subject: that [noun] thing. Meaning: the topic of [noun] under discussion. – Lambie Aug 14 '18 at 17:48

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