ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT ON APRIL 14, 2021
By Steve Newton
I was born on April 14, 1957, so the Beatles‘ “When I’m Sixty-Four” is my favourite song today.
Listening to that tune really takes me back…to a happier time?
Maybe so. Not that I’m doin’ too bad right now, having just gotten my first AstraZeneca jab a few days ago.
But when I was 10 years old, things were pretty sweet. That was the year I did really well at the Little Leo Punt Pass ‘N Kick contest, well enough to get driven in from Chilliwack to compete for the top prize during halftime at a B.C. Lions vs. Calgary Stampeders game at Empire Stadium.
The Lions lost, and so did I, but I did score an autographed football sporting names like Jim Young, Ted Gerela, Norm Fieldgate, and Leroy Sledge.
Still got it downstairs, but it really needs air.
The other thing I remember most about 1967 was that that was the year the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
I would spend countless hours splayed out on the living room carpet listening to it on my parents console stereo and reading along to the lyrics printed on the back cover.
Over and over and over again.
Man did I love that album. The entire Newton clan did. I’d fight with my little sister to see who could hold the album and read along.
Two years later a tragic family death would shatter our happy lives, but we always had the Beatles to help ease the pain.
One of my favourite tracks on Sgt. Peppers was “When I’m Sixty-Four”, maybe because I used to play clarinet in the school band.
It was the second track on Side Two, and I would skip right over George Harrison’s “Within You, Without You”, because I didn’t like it at all. I got very good at placing the needle directly into the welcoming groove that led into “When I’m Sixty-Four”.
When my sitar-hating 10-year-old self listened to that song I sometimes wondered what life would be like when I hit 64. Now that it’s happened and I’m a writer who can do whatever the hell he wants (sometimes) I thought it might be fun to compare some of Paul McCartney‘s ponderings on old age to my own situation. (The song was credited to Lennon-McCartney, as was always the case with John/Paul songs, but since McCartney sings it, he most likely wrote the lyrics as well. It sounds like his words to me, anyway.)
“When I get older losing my hair, many years from now.” (I’ve definitely lost a few strands in the last couple decades, but I’m still quite the shaggy longhair. Just ask my boss.)
“If I’d been out till quarter to three, would you lock the door.” (Haven’t been locked out yet. And besides, I’ve got my own key.)
“I could be handy, mending a fuse, when you’re lights have gone.” (Newp, not handy at all. Call the electrician.)
“You can knit a sweater by the fireside, Sunday morning go for a ride.” (Nothing against knitting, but Sundays are for sleeping in.)
“Every summer we can rent a cottage in the Isle of Wight, if it’s not too dear.” (Last summer we rented a trailer in Penticton, and it wasn’t that dear. No scrimping and/or saving involved.)
“Grandchildren on your knee, Vera Chuck and Dave.” (The kids are both single, and who’d name someone Vera Chuck anyway?)
“Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four.” (Not sure about the need part, but my wife still feeds me, and she’s a great cook. Not tonight, though. Fish ‘n’ chips from Cockney Kings for the birthday boy. I’m sure Macca would approve.)
Now that I’ve put you through all that nonsense, here’s the song: