It was a nice day out and I was driving along, listening to the Beatles channel on XM/Sirius as people of my demographics are prone to do.
A song came on that brought a smile to my face. It was one of their lighter, bouncier, almost whimsical songs and I found myself humming and singing along and keeping the beat with finger taps on the steering wheel.
As I listened to the lyrics, marveling at Lennon and McCartney’s genius, I suddenly felt a chill up my spine and I got all clammy. No, I was not having a cardiac event… also what people of my demographics are prone to do, but instead I was hearing, really hearing what their words were saying in their song.
The song was “When I’m 64.” Of course, the song was released decades ago, when the Beatles themselves were young lads, and I even younger than them. The sudden realization that I had just turned 64 myself left me stunned and reflecting on what it all means.
Obviously, the Beatles had recorded it when they were in their 20s at the latest. McCartney actually was 16 when he wrote it, and recorded it in 1967 when he was 25 and his own father was turning 64. That was part of what made the song so much fun for them and for us. They were singing of something over a quarter-century away in the future. They and we had the world at our feet, and to think of old age when we were still letting our freak flag fly was an abstract “reality” at best.
Sixty-four back in 1967 (I was 12) was a tad different from what it is now. While not exactly get-your-affairs-in-order time, it was certainly a time to reflect on the autumn of your life. Nowadays, if you’ve taken care of yourself along the way, it can be a very rewarding time of life, with retirement, enjoyment of family and travel on the horizon.
I know myself… counting at least two times that I came close, really close to becoming OPD (Obscure Beatles trivia, look it up) – and even with some age or genetically-related medical issues, I still think I greet the day with vim and vigor. Just don’t wake me early. I don’t do mornings and please have my coffee ready.
So, after reading the lyrics to the song again as a brand new 64-year-old, I saw a new, deeper meaning right alongside the lighter humorous lines. Yes, it’s still a lovely little ditty about an older couple still in love as they approach their golden years.
But it’s the chorus that says it all: “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?”