Back in 1967, when I was 11 years old, I never thought I’d be part of a Beatles song.
But it’s true. Here I am all those years later, living out “When I’m 64.”
Back then, I thought 64 was really, really old. Did people really live to be that old? It seemed impossible.
I’ll bet when Paul, John, George and Ringo recorded the song they thought 64 was really old, too. Two of them never made it there: John was killed when he was 40, George died when he was 58. Ringo is now 80, Paul is 78 and they probably look at 64 with fond memories.
I’m not quite 64 yet, although since I married an older woman my wife has already crossed the threshold. She beat me there by two months.
So I looked at the lyrics of the song the other day and there I was! Well, except for that Isle of Wight part. I supposed you could substitute Michigan there.
Listen for just a minute:
When I get older, losing my hair …
Yep, we all know about that.
Many years from now. Will you still be sending me a valentine …
When Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band came out, I was 11 years old. I hadn’t met my future wife yet. But she moved to Troy when she was 11 years old — really, this is true — so there’s some kind of mystical connection there. When you figure what it is, let me know. We’ve been sending each other valentines since we were juniors in high school (at least, when I remember it’s Valentine’s Day, which is most of the time).
“If I’d been out till quarter till three, would you lock the door?
Did they mean quarter till three in the afternoon? These days, if I would be out until quarter till three in the morning there would be no need to lock the door, because I would be too week to turn the doorknob. Usually, at quarter till three I have been in bed for hours and am just waking up for a trip to the bathroom. When Paul wrote the song, he obviously didn’t know anything about actually being 64.
Doing the garden, digging the weeds, who could ask for more?
This is true. Somehow there is a great deal of personal satisfaction growing flowers and taking out your frustration on a few weeds. You learn to appreciate things like that when you reach 64.
Grandchildren on your knee, Vera, Chuck and Dave.
Grandchildren are God’s reward for all those years you chased your children around. But you won’t find many little kids named Vera, Chuck or Dave these days … there’s a whole different list of names, many of which I can’t spell or pronounce. If Paul wrote the song today, the grandchildren would have to be Sophia, Aiden and Elsa, which is fine but might mess up the rhythm of the song.
Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?
Well, I guess the answer is yes. That’s a pretty good feeling.
Back when I was younger, this song was a bit of a mystery to me. Being 64 seemed like a bad thing. Now that I have arrived (and it came a lot sooner than I would have ever imagined), I see things differently. Sure, the clock is ticking and time is running out. But that makes each day all that more special. There are still grandchildren and the flowers and the cottage somewhere in Michigan. Being out till quarter till three is overrated and I no longer have to worry about keeping my hair – who am I trying to impress, anyway?
So when you add it all up – who could ask for more?