Paul McCartney wrote “When I’m Sixty-Four” when he was 14.
From that vantage point, 64 must have seemed ancient, almost unthinkable. Paul turned 79 just three days ago. Perhaps now he just smiles knowingly at what 14-year-old Paul was thinking.
It was written in 1956, a time before the Beatles and a time before me. I came along a year later.
Today is my birthday. I am 64. I don’t feel 64. Maybe 24.
Every day, though, I’m reminded that none of us are getting any younger. B-Side Records in Madison, Wisconsin, does a daily history post on Facebook, highlighting a record released on that day and then the day’s birthdays.
The record of the day for this June 21: “The self-titled debut by Unknown Mortal Orchestra,” released on this day in 2011. It’s a “neo-psych-pop project” by New Zealand musician Ruban Nielson that came after his punk band The Mint Chicks broke up. Not knowing any of that makes me feel a little older.
The birthdays are listed in chronological order from oldest to youngest. It usually turns out that the artists who are dead or older than me are the ones I know best. Once they start getting younger than me, then it’s hit or miss.
The June 21 birthdays: “Jon Hiseman (Colosseum) b. 1944; Augustus Pablo b. 1954; Lil Bub b. 2011; Lalo Schifrin is 89; Eddie Adcock is 83; Eumir Deodato is 78; Ray Davies (The Kinks) is 77; Joey Molland (Badfinger) is 74; Greg Munford (Strawberry Alarm Clock) is 72; Joey Kramer (Aerosmith) is 71; Alan Silson (Smokie) and Nils Lofgren (Grin / E Street Band) are 70; Mark Brzezicki (Big Country) is 64; Marcella Detroit (Shakespear’s Sister) and Kathy Mattea are 62; Manu Chao (Mano Negra) and Sascha Koneitzko (KMFDM) and Kip Winger (Winger) are 60; Pat Sansone (Wilco / The Autumn Defense) is 52; Eric Reed and Pete Rock and Bill Borowski (Knuckel Drager / Charlemagne) are 51; Juliette Lewis (Juliette and the Licks) is 48; Neely Jenkins (Tilly and the Wall) is 47; Mike Einziger (Incubus) is 45; Brandon Flowers (The Killers) is 40; Lana Del Rey is 36.”
Today is a good day. I know most of those who are 64 or older, or dead. Of the younger crowd, I know Marcella Detroit, Kathy Mattea, Kip Winger, Juliette Lewis, Brandon Flowers and Lana Del Rey. Not knowing about the rest, well, that also makes me feel a little older. I’ll get over it.
Fun fact: The Beatles didn’t record “When I’m Sixty-Four” until 1966. That’s 10 years after it was written. Even then, 24-year-old Paul probably just smiled knowingly at what 14-year-old Paul was thinking.
So please enjoy this version from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” the 2-LP edition, 2017 re-release of the 1967 original. This record was a birthday gift from four years ago.
“When I’m Sixty-Four (Take 2),” from Side 4. Recorded Dec. 6, 1966.
From the liner notes: “The foundation of the track was established by recording onto track one: bass played by Paul, kick drum and hi-hat by Ringo (Starr) and electric guitar from John (Lennon); track two contained piano by Paul; track three had Ringo’s brushes on a snare drum and Paul’s vocal was on track four. In later sessions, clarinets, tubular bells and vocals were added. When the song was mixed, the tape was played back at a higher speed. As a result, the key rose by a semitone. On this disc, take two is heard at its normal speed in the original key of C.”