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When I'm Sixty-Four
|from the album '|
|Released||1 June 1967|
|Recorded||6–21 December 1966|
Abbey Road Studios
|Genre||Jazz, music hall|
|Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band track listing|
The song is sung by a young man to his lover, and is about his plans of growing old together with her. Although the theme is aging, it was one of the first songs McCartney wrote, when he was sixteen. The Beatles used it in the early days as a song they could play when the amplifiers broke down or the electricity went off. Both George Martin and Mark Lewisohn thought that McCartney may have thought of the song when recording began for Sgt. Pepper in December 1966 because his father turned 64 earlier that year.
Lennon said of the song, "Paul wrote it in the Cavern days. We just stuck a few more words on it like 'grandchildren on your knee' and 'Vera, Chuck and Dave' ... this was just one that was quite a hit with us." In his 1980 interview for Playboy he said, "I would never even dream of writing a song like that."
The song was recorded on 6 December 1966, during one of the first sessions for the as-yet-unnamed album that became Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. There were multiple overdub sessions, including the lead vocal by McCartney on 8 December and backing vocals by McCartney, Lennon, and George Harrison on 20 December. The clarinets were recorded on 21 December.
The song is in the key of D-flat major. The Beatles recorded the song in C major but the master take was sped up in order to raise the key by one semitone at the insistence of McCartney. Martin remembers that McCartney suggested this change in order to make his voice sound younger. McCartney says, "I wanted to appear younger, but that was just to make it more rooty-tooty; just lift the key because it was starting to sound turgid."
The song was nearly released on a single as the B-side with either "Strawberry Fields Forever" or "Penny Lane" as the A-side. Instead, Martin decided on a double-A-sided-disc. The single did not make #1 in the UK, breaking a string of #1 singles going back to 1963. If "When I'm Sixty-Four" had been issued as a B-side, it probably would not have appeared on Sgt. Pepper.
- Paul McCartney – vocal, backing vocal, bass, piano
- John Lennon – backing vocal, guitar
- George Harrison – backing vocal
- Ringo Starr – drums, chimes
- Robert Burns, Henry MacKenzie, and Frank Reidy – two clarinets, bass clarinet
- Personnel per MacDonald except where noted
- The Beatles (2000). The Beatles Anthology. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.
- Lampert, Nicole (19 June 2006). "Sir Paul's children rework his classic to serenade him at 64". Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/showbiz/showbiznews.html?in_article_id=391319&in_page_id=1773. Retrieved 9 March 2007.
- Lewisohn, Mark (1988). The Beatles Recording Sessions. New York: Harmony Books.
- MacDonald, Ian (2005). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties (Second Revised ed.). London: Pimlico (Rand).
- Martin, George; Pearson, William (1994). With a Little Help from My Friends: The Making of Sgt. Pepper. Boston: Little, Brown.
- Sheff, David (2000). All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. New York: St. Martin's Press.
- Todd, Ben (18 June 2006). "EXCLUSIVE: ABBEY BIRTHDAY MACCA". Sunday Mirror. http://www.sundaymirror.co.uk/archive/archive/tm_method=full%26objectid=17249181%26siteid=62484-name_page.html. Retrieved 9 March 2007.