#SaturdaySongs No.10 – When I’m Sixty Four

[There used to be a video of the Beatles version of When I’m Sixty-Four here, but it was removed from YouTube. Copyright police strike again!]

My #SaturdaySongs series came to a rather abrupt halt just before last Christmas, when I was taken ill. I’ve been meaning to bring them back ever since I was better, but for some reason I’ve never quite got around to it. Put it down to a combination of indolence and a sequence of illnesses that have rendered this year a bit of a non-event for me. I had been planning to restart with something very obscure but have decided to defer it and run this one instead. There’s a good reason for this: today is my birthday and yes, you guessed, I’m 64.

As you may well know, this song first appeared on the Beatles’ legendary Sgt Pepper album, which was released just over 50 years ago, on 1 June 1967. There was a fair amount of publicity for this anniversary a couple of months ago, particularly for the re-release of an updated version of the album. I’m usually a little sceptical of these ‘remastered’ records, but this one really is quite special, and adds a whole extra dimension to the sound. The brouhaha took me back to that magical summer of ’67. As I was only 13 at the time – well, until 16th September anyway – I was a little too young to have been a participant in the ‘summer of love’ but that didn’t stop me from enjoying some fantastic music. Those were the days before the BBC started Radio 1, which came along a couple of months later, after the Government had kindly introduced the Marine Broadcasting (Offences) Act and scuppered the pirate radio stations. These had done so much to bring pop music to young people in a hitherto unimagined way, and on a much wider scale than public broadcasting had ever done before. The old Light Programme was no match for them, but at least most of the DJs from the pirate stations transferred to the Beeb and with Radio 1 we had something like them on a longer term basis. Even Tony Blackburn – Heaven help us!

My first memory of hearing this song, and the whole Sgt Pepper album, goes back to 12 May 1967. This was a Friday, and we all rushed home from school so that we could hear the new Beatles album being given its first airing. This was on the pirate station Radio London, which had scooped an exclusive to broadcast the album for 8 days before anyone else was allowed to play it. My memory has always been that the show was hosted by Kenny Everett, but as he had been fired from the station two months previously that memory may be faulty! But he had strong links with the Beatles, being a fellow Liverpudlian, so maybe he did do it. Or perhaps it was Dave Cash, with whom he used to do the Kenny and Cash show? Either way, it was a magical experience, even though I was sitting in my bedroom in front of a pocket transistor radio, which by modern day standards would have had appalling sound quality. But it was how we got our music in those days, and the memories flood back whenever I play the album – which is often.

Looking back, it is interesting to see what four young men in their early 20s thought it would be like to be much older. My hair may be much thinner than in those days, but I’m lucky to still have it: a legacy from my father, who turns 90 next month and still has a good head of hair! I’ve never rented a cottage on the Isle of Wight although my now ex-wife and I did stay in a hotel there for our honeymoon, so that’s quite close, isn’t it? I don’t have any grandchildren but, when I do, I somehow doubt that Vera and Chuck will be considered as possible names. My son-in-law is called Dave, though. And there’s an undeniably quaint feeling to their view of the future: I’m not sure that many people still knit sweaters, and fifty years ago life expectancy was much lower than it is today, so 64 would have felt older than it does now – that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

I had a hard time finding an original Beatles version of this song to illustrate this post. As I said at the top I did find a fairly recent one, but it suffered from the very active control over Beatles music that seems to be applied on YouTube and was deleted. There are masses of alternatives though, to give you a taste of the song. Plenty of amateur covers, including a bassoon group, a chamber orchestra, various choirs, a barbershop quartet and so many wannabes. Then there are the covers by recognised artists: John Denver (ok if you like him, I guess), Cheap Trick (not bad), the Killers (unspeakably bad), Judy Collins (yes, really!), Kenny Ball (lots of clarinet), all topped off by this amazing version by Cliff Richard:

I simply had to include that, once my hysterical laughter had subsided. Those dance moves, eh? But then again, I always did think Cliff Richard was a twat so I wasn’t exactly well disposed towards it, though I’m glad I found it: I haven’t laughed so much in ages! I also found this, which purports to give someone’s view of what 64 year olds look like:

As someone says in the comments, the people featured look closer to 84 than 64. I don’t look that old yet, do I? I just feel like it, some days 😂

PS: I’m planning on bringing you some more #SaturdaySongs soon, although maybe not on a weekly basis. See you again, I hope.


39 thoughts on “#SaturdaySongs No.10 – When I’m Sixty Four

    • Thanks Michael. Not mine either, I’ve always seen it as a bit of a throwaway track, but it was a good fit for Saturday! Maybe I should do a Day in the Life or Within You Without You? Not sure what I’d make of them to be honest, and Lucy in the Sky would be a real challenge if I could avoid drug references 😊


  1. Jumped over from the Senior Salon – GREAT to have that back up again, isn’t it?
    Happy Birthday, Clive. I’m sorry it has been a rough year, health-wise, but I’m glad to know you are feeling better. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    I agree that 64 seems so much younger now than when this song was first popular. My father was into his 9th decade before he died – 30 more good years for him. There was a time when many folks didn’t live much longer than 30 years! The next generation may well live to be 100 or more. (better start saving – lol – or VOTING!)
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really is. Bernadette has created something really good and it’s great that she has restarted it after her family tragedy. Thanks for the good wishes, though I’m not sure we will continue to live longer – the papers here ran a story last week that scientists think we may be reaching our natural limits. Time will tell – long after I depart! xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • NATURAL limits? A couple of older articles on my site about the work of Aubrey de Grey and others have been challenging that assumption for some time now. [‘Executive Functioning & Diseases of Aging’ and ‘Reaching the Boiling Point’] – you can use my site-search to locate them if you’re interested.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, they had done some research across Europe and their findings showed a slowing, almost to static, in the growth in expected lifetimes. I don’t know how thorough their research is, though, and whether their findings to date will change with further research. It’s an interesting topic, and one on which I anticipate there will be much more discussion.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’d like that too, though I’m not doing too well at present! You’re right about research, but funding isn’t easy in the current economic climate – let’s hope it can be done, as it’s a vital topic that affects everyone xx


  2. Enjoyed this post. My 64th birthday is another 4 years away, but I’ve lost a lot of hair this year through radiotherapy (it’s now starting to re-grow), I’ve not only rented a cottage on the IOW, I also have my own holiday home there! I’ve got 4 grandchildren, none of whom are called Vera, Chuck or Dave. Great song – such a pity Lennon & McCartney’s collaboration was cut short.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Stevie. Hopefully you’ll have full hair again well before your 64th birthday! Good to know that you’re well into the IoW part, and I think your family can be forgiven on the granchildren’s names! The Lennon and McCartney legacy is still there to be enjoyed, thankfully.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You are ageless, old chap!(Ooops! I meant young chappie) I was just the right age in ’67 – graduating from a Catholic girl’s high school into freedom! And when I became 64, I published my first book. We’re just starting and no, neither of us look anything like those 2 in the hammock! (I would never get in a rope hammock because I would kill myself attempting to get out!)

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  4. I must have heard this song together with you at the release at Radio One ! I remember the mixed feelings I had with this poetic song. I liked it and still I felt a bit sad about getting that old. I was 16 years old and now 66. I agree with you I don’t feel that old as I can do more things now than then. I love to hear Paul Mc Cartney’s voice so clear and the Northern accent with the distinct vocals and special “R”s. Reminds me of Manchester that I visited in 1966 and learnt that outspoken accent.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Those were great times, Maria. You were lucky to have travelled so young, and heard those accents. Manchester, where you were, is very distinct from Liverpool, where the Beatles came from. And both are very different from the accents I grew up with in the south! They sounded so exotic to us!


      • I admit that I being a foreigner have difficulties in hearing the differences between Manchester and Liverpool accents. But I liked the way the Beatles sang pronouncing each syllable very clearly

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      • You’re right, I have difficulty telling regional accents apart in other countries. Manc is a bit whiny, Scouse (Liverpool) is more sing song like, and sounds like someone clearing their throat! For a Manchester accent in music try Oasis – very much the poor person’s Beatles!


      • Haven’t you? They were big here in the 90s, but never broke the bigger markets like the US. They were an ok rock band, with a few good songs, but mostly existed on attitude! You’ll find loads on YouTube. Some Might Say and Little By Little are my favourites.


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