When I’m 64 fingerstyle tab

“When I’m 64” by The Beatles, arranged with tab for fingerstyle guitar by Daryl Shawn.

Get the fingerstyle tab here.

“When I’m Sixty-Four” is a song by the English rock band The Beatles, written by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon–McCartney) and released on their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was one of the first songs written by McCartney, who wrote it when he was 14. The song was recorded in a different key to the final recording; it was sped up at the request of McCartney to make his voice sound younger. It prominently features a trio of clarinets (two regular clarinets and one bass clarinet) throughout.

Paul McCartney wrote the melody to “When I’m Sixty-Four” around the age of 14, probably at 20 Forthlin Road in April or May 1956. In 1987, McCartney recalled, “Rock and roll was about to happen that year, it was about to break, [so] I was still a little bit cabaret minded”, and in 1974, “I wrote a lot of stuff thinking I was going to end up in the cabaret, not realizing that rock and roll was particularly going to happen. When I was fourteen there wasn’t much of a clue that it was going to happen.”

The song is sung by a young man to his lover, and is about his plans of their growing old together. Although the theme is ageing, it was one of the first songs McCartney wrote.Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn suggests it was McCartney’s second composition, coming after “Call It Suicide” but before “I Lost My Little Girl”. It was in the Beatles’ setlist in their early days as a song to perform when their amplifiers broke down or the electricity went off. Both George Martin and Lewisohn speculated that McCartney may have thought of the song when recording began for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in December 1966 because his father, Jim McCartney, turned 64 earlier that year.

In 1967, John 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.” Lennon’s contribution of the children’s names was likely made in the studio. McCartney’s manuscript for the song sold for $55,700 (equivalent to US$97,000 in 2020) at Sotheby’s, London in September 1994.

The song uses applied dominants more than anywhere else on Sgt. Pepper, appearing in the refrain (B–2–3), in a tonicization of VI in the bridge (B) and, as musicologist Walter Everett puts it, “[in] the wide array of jaunty chromatic neighbors and passing tones comparable to those in McCartney’s dad’s ‘Walking in the Park with Eloise'”.

When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a Valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine
If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four
You’ll be older too
And if you say the word
I could stay with you
I could be handy, mending a fuse
When your lights have gone
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride
Doing the garden, digging the weeds
Who could ask for more
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four
Every summer we can rent a cottage
In the Isle of Wight, if it’s not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera, Chuck and Dave
Send me a postcard, drop me a line
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, wasting away
Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four

Hope you like the tab!

If you want to get a free tab every two weeks, join my Tab Pool. No obligation, it just gives me the chance to share my newest arrangements and see how fellow fingerstyle players like them. If you like fingerstyle tabs, no reason not to join up!