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When I'm Sixty-Four

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"When I'm Sixty-Four"
Song by The Beatles
Album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Released 1 June 1967
Recorded 6 December - 21 December 1966: Abbey Road Studios
Genre Pop
Length 2:37
Label Parlophone, Capitol, EMI
Writer Lennon/McCartney
Producer George Martin
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band track listing
'When I'm Sixty Four' was something Paul wrote in the Cavern days. We just stuck in a few more words, like 'grandchildren on your knee,' and 'Vera Chuck and Dave.' It was just one of those ones that he'd had, that we've all got, really — half a song. And this was just one of those that was quite a hit with us. We used to do it when the amps broke down, just sing it on the piano.

—John Lennon, 1967

I think I helped Paul with some of the words.

—John Lennon, 1972

Paul's, completely. I would never dream of writing a song like that. There's some things I never think about, and that's one of them.

—John Lennon, 1980

I wrote the tune when I was about 15, I think, on the piano at home, before I moved from Liverpool. It was kind of a cabaret tune. Then, years later, I put words to it.

—Paul McCartney, 1984

I thought it was a good little tune but it was too vaudvillian, so I had to get some cod lines to take the sting out of it, and put the tongue very firmly in cheek.

—Paul McCartney, 1994

I had that song when I was a kid. I had that when I was about 16, but I never did anytghing with it until I was about 24 and then we put the words to it.

—Paul McCartney

I am sure Paul wrote 'When I'm Sixty-Four' with his father in mind. Paul's father had played in a dance band in the post-war years. It so happened that Jim McCartney was 64 years old in July 1966. Jim loved music-hall stuff, corny popular songsa, the kind of thing that Paul normally wouldn't tolerate. Nevertheless, 'When I'm Sixty-Four' was not a send-up but a kind of nostalgic, if ever-so-slightly satircal tribute to his dad. On one level, I think it was an echo of the songs Jim played when Paul was young. It's almost a Des O'Connor number. It is also not really much of a Beatles song, in that the other Beatles didn't have much to do on it. Paul got someway round the lurking schmaltz factor by suggesting we use clarinets on the recording, 'in a classical way.' So the main accompaniment is the two clarinets and a bass clarinet, which I scored for him. This classical treatment gave added bit to the song, a formality that pushed it firmly towards satire.

—George Martin, 1994


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