Song of the Day #471: ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ – The Beatles

paul-mccartney-2It occurred to me the other day that when Let it Be, The Beatles’ last official release, came out, John Lennon was 30 years old and Paul McCartney was 28. They had changed the face of music, written and recorded some of the highest-selling and most ground-breaking albums in history, sparked a cultural phenomenon that spanned continents… all in their 20s. Amazing.

The next thought I had is that it must be weird to live out the next two thirds of your life knowing you’ve basically already peaked. (Of course, sadly, John didn’t get that chance.) I mean, Paul knows that he can have Wings and a series of well-received solo albums and all that, but nothing he ever does in his life will approach what he did in his 20s.

I’m not suggesting this is a horrible thing. I’m pretty sure we’d all love to have that problem. But I know I live my life expecting I have greater things in my future, and I suspect most people do. For Paul, it’s all been downhill the past 35+ years. Poor bastard.

When I get older losing my hair,
Many years from now,
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine?

If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door,
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I’m sixty-four?

oo oo oo oo oo oo oo oooo
You’ll be older too, (ah ah ah ah ah)
And if you say the word,
I could stay with you.

I could be handy mending a fuse
When your lights have gone.
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride.

Doing the garden, digging the weeds,
Who could ask for more?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I’m sixty-four?

Every summer we can rent a cottage
In the Isle of Wight, if it’s not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera, Chuck, and Dave

Send me a postcard, drop me a line,
Stating point of view.
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, Wasting Away.

Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I’m sixty-four?

6 thoughts on “Song of the Day #471: ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ – The Beatles

  1. pegclifton says:

    Poor Bastard indeed! How I love this song, especially since I’m 64 YEARS OLD!! right now. Anyway, it’s up there as my all time favorite Beatles tune. Thanks for making my day.

  2. Amy says:

    I guess it depends on how you characterize your life’s accomplishments. His life’s work as a husband and a father certainly hadn’t peaked by the time he was 29. His work as an activist had barely begun. I much prefer to imagine a life told in chapters, where Paul’s got off to an exciting start but continued (and continues) to build to a thrilling conclusion.

    He has suffered tremendous loss in his life, losses I’m sure he couldn’t have imagined at 29, and how he has worked through each of those tragedies, how he has continued to be a father, an artist, a business man, an activist, all contributes to the chapters that have been written since that early success.

    One of the things I’ve always loved about this song is how it suggests that Paul had an understanding of the continuity of one’s life even when he was in the relatively early stages of it. The fact that he doesn’t have his Linda to need and feed him makes me sad every time I hear it. Still, I doubt he has ever thought of his life having reached a pinnacle at 29.

  3. Dana says:

    Yes, poor Paul will have to live with the fortunes he has made, and enjoy his place amongst the monarchy of rock and roll. Alas….

  4. Clay says:

    It’s even more interesting that he hadn’t even met Linda when he wrote this song, so he was going on faith that there would be somebody he’d want to need and feed him all those years later.

  5. Amy says:

    All the more evidence that his life had barely begun, Beatles success aside!

  6. maddie says:

    ❤ i love this song too

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