Paul McCartney was sixteen when he wrote “When I’m Sixty-Four.”
He and John Lennon revised and recorded it for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, released in 1967. Paul and John (as we called them) were twenty-five and twenty-seven, respectively. It’s John who added the line, “Grandchildren on your knee, Vera, Chuck and Dave.”
When my oldest brother brought the album home, my grandmother was sixty-four. She did knit sweaters –for us grandkids, not her husband.
My parents were the grown-ups; they were forty-two.
At the time, my idea of romantic love was based on Sixteen Going on Seventeen, from The Sound of Music. But I quickly replaced having a crush on Liesl, the eldest von Trapp, for having crushes on Paul, John, George and Ringo – separately and all at once.
I liked the song both for its humor and the clarinet lines. I’m sure it influenced me when I was forty-eight and imagined Rose and Percy, the sixty-four-year-old characters of Into the Wilderness. But even then, the idea that I would ever be sixty-four seemed preposterous.