Fifty years ago, when I was going into my freshman year of high school, I didn’t pay much attention to the latest Beatles song that was making its way up the pop chart.
“When I’m 64” wasn’t exactly top of mind for a 5-foot-3-inch, 14-year-old redhead who was getting beat up on the football field by a group of seniors who mopped up on everyone they played that season, including the underclassmen they enjoyed pummeling during practice. As a fun drill, our coach put two freshmen back to receive punts — one to block and one to run the punt back — with 11 seniors as defenders.
But I digress.
The 50-year-old Beatles song has considerably more meaning to me today, especially since a little more than a month ago, I reached the ripe old age of 64.
According to the website SongFacts.com, Paul McCartney wrote the music for the song when he was about 15 and used to play it when The Beatles were still known as The Quarrymen. He put lyrics to it later in honor of his father’s 64th birthday.
The song asks if a woman will still be with him when he turns 64 years old. Ironically, on May 17, 2006, Paul and his then wife, Heather Mills, separated, although they didn’t finalize their divorce until 2008. McCartney turned 64 on June 18, 2006, about a month after their separation, so the answer to his musical question with regard to his wife was no.
The song has a catchy little tune that I find myself whistling on occasion now that I’ve gotten it in my head. It got planted in my brain when somebody asked me, “Hey, does that Beatles song have more meaning to you now?”
Well, the answer is yes.
“Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64,” is the kicker line to each verse.
Fortunately, when I ask that question to myself, the answer is yes. Anne and I will celebrate our 43rd wedding anniversary in December, and I am very fortunate that indeed, she still needs me and still feeds me — maybe a little too good — now that I’m 64.
Of course, it goes both ways. I still need and feed Anne, too, who I might point out is 80 days older than me. She has been 64 muchlonger than me. She was indeed a cradle robber.
I am pretty fortunate regarding another verse in the song, too. The song starts out, “When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now.” Well, I’ve reached the magic age, and lo and behold, I still have my hair. Unfortunately it’s not the same color as it used to be, but it’s still there!
Although the lyrics to the song were written by a 20-something entertainer, they hold special meaning to this old guy. As McCartney tried to paint a picture of what life would be like together in the future — “We shall scrimp and save” — it brought back lots of memories of doing just that, getting by on very little while raising three youngsters.
As we’ve reached that ripe old age, a couple more lines hit home.
“Doing the garden, digging the weeds, who could ask for more?” If the car is in the garage and Anne can’t be found in the house, it’s a good bet the garden is where I will find her, “doing the garden,” as the song goes.
But perhaps the best line in the song is toward the end, where McCartney wrote about “grandchildren on your knee.” Those are indeed the fun times that we are now enjoying, with two grandchildren (so far) to spoil and send home to their parents. What could be better?
Now I’ve got that darned tune in my head for the rest of the day.
Maybe it will be gone by the time I get to 65.
Jim Massey is editor of The Country Today and writes news stories and features in southern Wisconsin. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.