What Paul McCartney Regretted About The Beatles’ “When I’m Sixty-Four”

When Paul McCartney was 24, The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, an album which includes his track “When I’m Sixty-Four.” During an interview, Paul McCartney revealed why he used the number “64” in the song. In addition, he discussed how he would change the track if he wrote it at a later stage of his life.

What would have been different about The Beatles’ ”When I’m Sixty-Four” if Paul McCartney wrote it during another time in his life

2006 was an interesting year for Paul. The Los Angeles Times reports it was when he turned 64—an age which was especially notable since he wrote “When I’m Sixty-Four” many years prior. In addition, he earned his 64th Grammy nomination.

During an interview, Paul said “It was really an arbitrary number when I wrote [‘When I’m Sixty-Four’]. I probably should have called it ‘When I’m 65,’ which is the retirement age in England. And the rhyme would have been easy, ‘something, something alive when I’m 65.’ But it felt too predictable. It sounded better to say 64.”

“When I’m Sixty-Four”

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Subsequently, Paul shared an anecdote about someone changing the number in the song. “I met someone who plays piano in an old persons’ home, and he said, ‘I hope you don’t mind, but I play some of your songs, and the most popular one is “When I’m Sixty-Four,” but I have to change the title to “When I’m 84″ because 64 seems young to those people,” he said. “They don’t get it.’  Paul sympathized with the piano player “If I were to write it now, I’d probably call it ‘When I’m 94.’” Paul sighed as he said that.

How the public reacted to The Beatles’ ”When I’m Sixty-Four”

This raises an interesting question: How did the public respond to “When I’m Sixty-Four?” The track wasn’t released as a single, so it didn’t chart on the Billboard Hot 100. However, the song’s parent album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band, reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and remained on the chart for 233 weeks. In addition, the title “When I’m Sixty-Four” was used for a BBC romantic film of the same name. The track seems to have resonated with the public.

“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Cub Band”

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What John Lennon had to say about turning 64

The track played an interesting role in John Lennon’s life as well. In the book Lennon Remembers, Jann S. Wenner asks John if he knew what he might be doing at 64. John said he had no plans but hoped he and Yoko Ono would be living on the Irish coast or somewhere similar. He imagined himself and Yoko looking at a bizarre scrapbook of their lives. In the 2000 edition of Lennon Remembers, Wenner says this comment gives perspective to the rest of what John says in the book. After all, John never lived to see his 64th birthday. While “When I’m Sixty-Four” is one of The Beatles’ lighter songs, it still inspired a variety of reactions.

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