“When I’m Sixty-Four” by The Beatles
“When I’m Sixty-Four” is a naïve love song in which the singer goes about questioning his lover’s commitment to him in a comical sort of way. And he does so by projecting the two of them far into the future, when he’s 64 years old, and she’s a comparable age.
And it is pretty clear from his fantasy that first and foremost he idealizes that he and his girlfriend will still be together. In fact they’re even married, with grandkids and all. And for the most part the way he envisions the future is that the two of them are indeed chillin’ – that is if she is actually committed to him for the long haul. So the overall implication is that the addressee is a woman whom he looks forward to marrying and spending the rest of his life with.
And… that’s pretty much it. Yes, being the “Sgt. Pepper” era Beatles there has been a reference to getting intoxicated identified in the song. But by and large, this track is as simple as it sounds, being written by Paul McCartney in his youth and a considerable amount of time before he and the Beatles blew up. And broken down to its simplest sentiment, what the singer is telling his girlfriend in “When I’m Sixty-Four” is that he hopes that they are together forever.
Writing Credits for “When I’m Sixty-Four”
This song was originally written by Paul McCartney. And according to his own recollection, he was “about 16” years old at the time. However, in addition to himself, its penning has also been credited to Lennon-McCartney (i.e. he and John Lennon).
Indeed Lennon (1940-1980) has stated that the band “stuck a few more words on” to the lyrics, in order to fill them out. And “When I’m Sixty-Four” is a song the Beatles used to play even before they recorded it, indeed even from the days they operated under the moniker “The Quarrymen”.
It is McCartney who provides the lead vocals. And in keeping true to the song’s youthful origins, his voice has been sped up on the track so that the vocalist would sound younger than he actually is.
Recording and Release of “When I’m Sixty-Four”
The date that they actually did begin recording “When I’m Sixty-Four” was on 6 December 1966. Parlophone Records officially released it the following year, on May 26th, 1967, as part of what went on to become the Beatles’ most critically-acclaimed album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. And it has been noted that this was the first track recorded which actually ended up on that album.
This song famously features two clarinets and an additional bass clarinet throughout. And those instruments were played by individuals named F. Reidy, H. MacKenzie and R. Burns.
This classic was produced by the Beatles’ regular collaborator, George Martin (1926-2016).
Whereas “When I’m Sixty-Four” is appreciated by Beatles’ purists, it is not considered one of the Fab Four’s standard tunes. However, it has had some notable covers. For instance John Lennon’s son, Julian Lennon, sang it in 2002 for an Allstate Insurance advertisement.
Also in 2020, rapper G-Eazy did his own cover of the tune in celebration of his mom’s 64th birthday.
Paul McCartney’s 64th Birthday Celebration
When McCartney himself turned 64, which occurred on 18 June 2006, his own children sang this to him during his birthday celebration.