Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of the Beatles performing When I'm Sixty-Four from the animated movie Yellow Submarine.
Peter Paul Markin, North Adamsville Class Of 1964 and thus already past sixty-four, comment:
Many of my fellows from the Generation of '68 (a. k. a. baby-boomers) will be, if you can believe this, turning sixty-four this year. So be it.
When I'm Sixty-Four - The Beatles
When I get olded, loosing my hair,
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me the Valentine,
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine
If I stay 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 morning 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 & 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.
Ancient dreams, dreamed.
Ya, sometimes, and maybe more than sometimes, a frail, a frill, a twist, a dame, oh hell, let’s cut out the goofy stuff and just call her a woman and be done with it, will tie a guy’s insides up in knots so bad he doesn’t know what is what. Tie up a guy so bad he will go to the chair kind of smiling, okay maybe just half-smiling. Frank (read: future Peter Paul and a million, more or less, other guys) had it bad as a man could have from the minute Ms. Cora walked through the door in her white summer blouse, shorts, and the then de rigueur bandana holding back her hair, also white. She may have been just another blonde, very blonde frail serving them off the arm in some seaside hash joint but from second one she was nothing but, well nothing but, a femme fatale. I swear, I swear on seven sealed bibles that I yelled at the screen for him to get the hell out of there at that moment. But do you think he would listen, no not our boy. He had to play with fire, and play with it to the end.
Nose flattened cold against the frozen, snow falling front window apartment project hang your hat dwelling, small, warm, no hint of madness, or crazes only of sadness, brother kinship sadness, sadness and not understanding of time marching as he, that older brother, goes off to foreign places, foreign elementary school reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic places and, he, the nose flattened against the window brother, is left to ponder his own place in those kind of places, those foreign-sounding places, when his time comes. If he has a time, has the time for the time of his time, in this red scare (but what knows he of red scare only brother scares), cold war, cold nose, dust particles in the clogging air night.
A cloudless day, a cloudless Korean War day, talk of peace, merciless truce peace and uncles coming home in the air, hot, hot end of June day laying, face up on freshly mown grass near fellowship carved-out fields, fields for slides and swings, diamonded baseball, no, friendlier softball fields the houses are too close, of gimps, glues, cooper-plated portraits, of sweet shaded elms, starting, now that he too, that nose-flattened brother, has been to foreign places in the time of his time, to find his own place in the sun but wondering, constantly wondering, what means this, what means that, and why all the changes, slow changes, fast changes, blip changes, but changes.
Nighttime fears, red-flagged Stalin-named fears, red bomb unnamed shelter blast fears, named, vaguely named, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg hated stalinite jews killed fears, jews killed our catholic lord fears and what did they do anyway fears against the cubed glass glistening flagless flag-pole rattling dark asphalt school yard night, alone, and, and, alone fears avoidance, clean, clear stand alone avoidance of old times sailors, tars, sailors’ homes AND deaths in barely readable fine- marked granite-grey lonely seaside graveyards looking out on ocean homelands and lost booty. Dead.
Endless walks, endless sea street seawall walks, rocks, shells, ocean water-logged debris strewn every which way, fetid marsh smells to the right, mephitic swamps oozing mud splat to the left making hard the way, the path, okay, to uptown drug stores, Rexall’s drug store, grabbing heist-stolen valentine, ribbon and bow valentine night bushel, signed, hot blood-signed, weary-feet signed, if only she, about five candidates she, later called two blondes, two brunettes, and a red-head, sticks all, no womanly shape to tear a boy-man up, would give a look his way, his look, his newly acquired state of the minute Elvis-imitation look, on endless sea streets, the white-flecked splash inside his head would be quiet.
Walks, endless waiting bus stop non-stop walks, up crooked cheap, low-rent, fifty-year rutted pavement streets, deeply gouged, one-lane snow-drift hassles, pass trees are green, coded, endless trees are green secret-coded waiting, waiting against boyish infinite time, infinite first blush of innocent manhood, boyhood times, gone now, for one look, one look, that would elude him, elude him forever such is life in lowly spots, lowly, lowly spots. And no dance either, no high school confidential (hell elementary school, man), handy man, breathless, Jerry Lee freak-out, at least no potato sack stick dance with coded name brunette. That will come, that will come.
City square no trespass standing, low-slung granite buildings everywhere, granite steps leading to granite doors leading to granite gee-gad counters, hated, no name hated, low-head hated, waiting slyly, standing back on heels, going in furtively, coming out ditto, presto coming out with a gold nugget jewel, no carat, no russkie Sputnik panel glitter for his efforts such is the way of young lumped crime, no value, no look, just grab, grab hard, grab fast, grab get yours before the getting is over, or before the dark, dark night comes, the dark pitched-night when the world no longer is young, and dreamed dream make no more sense that this bodily theft.
A bridge too far, an unarched, unsteeled, unspanned, unnerved bridge too far. One speed bicycle boy, dungarees rolled up against dog bites and geared meshes, churning through endless heated, sweated, no handkerchief streets, names, all the parts of ships, names, all the seven seas, names, all the fishes of the seas, names, all the fauna of the sea, names. Twelve-year old hard churned miles to go before sleep, searching for the wombic home, for the old friends, the old drifter, grifter, midnight shifter petty larceny friends, that’s all it was, petty and maybe larceny, hard against the named ships, hard against the named seas, hard against the named fishes, hard against the named fauna, hard against the unnamed angst, hard against those changes that kind of hit one sideways all at once like some mack the knife smack devilish thing
Lindo, lindos, beautiful, beautifuls, not some spanish exotic though, maybe later, just some junior league dream fuss though, some future cheerleader football dame though, some sweated night pasty crust and I, too slip-shot, too, well, just too lonely, too lonesome, too long-toothed before my time to do more than endless walks along endless atlantic streets to summon up the courage to glance, glance right at windows, non-exotic atlantic cheerleader windows. Such is the new decade a-borning, a-borning but not for me, no jack swagger, or bobby goof as they run the table on old tricky dick or some tired imitation of him. Me, I’ll take exotics, or lindos, if they every cross my path, my lonely only path
Sweated dust bowl nights, not the sweated exotic atlantic cheerleader glance nights but something else, something not endless walked about, something done, or with the promise of done, for something inside, for some sense of worth in the this moldy white tee shirt, mildewy white shorts, who knows what diseased sneakers, Chuck Taylor sneakers pushing the red-faced Irish winds, harder, harder around the oval, watch tick in hand, looking, looking I guess for immortality, immortality even then. Later, in bobby darin times or percy faith times, who knows, sitting, sitting high against the lion-guarded pyramid statute front door dream, common dreams, common tokyo dreams, all gone asunder, all gone asunder, on this curious fact, no wind, Irish or otherwise. Who would have figured that one?
Main street walked, main street public telephone booth cheap talk walked searching for some Diana greek goddess wholesale on the atlantic streets. Diana, blonde Diana, cashmere-sweatered, white tennis –shoed Diana, million later Dianas although not with tennis shoes, really gym shoes fit for old ladies to do their rant, their lonely rant against the wind. Seeking, or rather courage-seeking, nickel and dime courage as it turns out; nickel and dime courage when home provided no sanctuary for snuggle-eared delights. Maybe a date, maybe just a swirl at midnight drift, maybe a view of local lore submarine races, ah, to dream, no more than to dream, walking down friendly aisles, arm and arm along with myriad other arm and arm walkers on senior errands. No way, no way and then red-face, alas, red-faced no known even forty years later. Wow.
Multi-colored jacket worn, red and black, black and red, some combination reflecting old time glories, or promises of glory, cigarette, Winston small-filtered, natch, hanging from off the lip at some jagged angle, a cup of coffee, if coffee was the drink, in hand, a glad hand either way, look right, look left, a gentle nod, a hard stare, a gentle snarl if such a thing is possible beyond the page. Move out the act onto Boston fresh streets. Finally, that one minute, no not fifteen, not fifteen at all, and not necessary of the fame game, local fame, always local fame but fame, and then the abyss on non-fame, non- recognition and no more snarls, gentle or otherwise. A tough life lesson learned, very tough. And not yet twenty.
Drunk, whisky drunk, whisky rotgut whisky drunk, in some bayside, altantic bayside, not childhood atlantic bayside though, no way, no shawlie way, bar. Name, nameless, no legion. Some staggered midnight vista street, legs weak from lack of work, brain weak, push on, push on, find some fellaheen relieve for that unsatisfied bulge, that gnawing at the brain or really at the root of the thing. A topsy-turvy time, murder, death, the death of death, the death of fame, murder, killing murder, and then resolve, wrong resolve and henceforth the only out, war, war to the finish although who could have known that then. Who could have know that tet, lyndon, bobby, Hubert, tricky dick war-circus thing then.
Shaved-head, close anyway, too close to distinguish that head and ten-thousand, no on hundred-thousand other heads, all shave-headed. I fall down to the earth, spitting mud-flecked red clay, spitting, dust, spitting, spitting out the stars over Alabama that portent no good, no earthy good. Except this-if this is not murder, if this is not to slay, then what is? And the die is cast, not truthfully cast, not pure warrior in the night cast but cast. Wild dreams, senseless wild dreams follow, follow in succession. The days of rage, rage against the light, and then the glimmer of the light.
The great Mandela cries, cries to the high heavens, for revenge against the son’s hurt, now that the son has found his way, a strange way but a way. And a certain swagger comes to his feet in the high heaven black Madonna of a night. No cigarette hanging off the lip now, not Winston filter-tipped seductions, no need, and no rest except the rest of waiting, waiting on the days to pass until the next coming, and the next coming after that. Ah, sweet Mandela, turn for me, turn for me and mine just a little. Free at last but with a very, very sneaking feeling that this is a road less traveled for reason, and not ancient robert frost to guide you… Just look at blooded Kent State, or better, blooded Jackson State. Christ.
Bloodless bloodied streets, may day tear down the government days, tears, tear-gas exploding, people running this way and that coming out of a half-induced daze, a crazed half-induced daze that mere good- will, mere righteousness would right the wrongs of this wicked old world. But stop. Out of the bloodless fury, out of the miscalculated night a strange bird, no peace dove and no flame-flecked phoenix but a bird, maybe the owl of Minerva comes a better sense that this new world a-bornin’ will take some doing, some serious doing. More serious that some wispy-bearded, pony-tailed beat, beat down, beat around, beat up young stalwart acting in god’s place can even dream of.
Chill chili nights south of the border, endless Kennebunkports, Bar Harbors, Calais’, Monktons, Peggy’s Coves, Charlottetowns, Montreals, Ann Arbors, Neolas, Denvers by moonlight, Boulders echos, Dinosaurs dies, salted lakes, Winnemuccas flats, golden-gated bridges, malibus, Joshua Trees, pueblos, embarcaderos, and flies. Enough to last a life-time, thank you. Enough of Bunsen burners, Coleman stoves, wrapped blankets, second-hand sweated army sleeping bags, and minute pegged pup tents too. And enough too of granolas, oatmeals, desiccated stews, oregano weed, mushroomed delights, peyote seeds, and the shamanic ghosts dancing off against apache (no, not helicopters, real injuns) ancient cavern wall. And enough of short-wave radio beam tricky dick slaughters south of the border in deep fall nights. Enough, okay.
He said struggle. He said push back. He said stay with your people. He said it would not be easy. He said you have lost the strand that bound you to your people. He said you must find that strand. He said that strand will lead you away from you acting in god’s place ways. He said look for a sign. He said the sign would be this-when your enemies part ways and let you through then you will enter the golden age. He said it would not be easy. He said it again and again. He said struggle. He said it in 1848, he said it in 1917, he said it in 1973. Whee, an old guy, huh.
Greyhound bus station men’s wash room stinking to high heaven of seven hundred pees, six hundred laved washings, five hundred wayward unnamed, unnamable smells, mainly rank. Out the door, walk the streets, walk the streets until, until noon, until five, until lights out. Plan, plan, plan, plain paper bag in hand holding, well, holding life, plan for the next minute, no, the next ten seconds until the deadly impulses subside. Then look, look hard, for safe harbors, lonely desolate un-peopled bridges, some gerald ford-bored newspaper-strewn bench against the clotted hobo night snores. Desolation row, no way home.
A smoky sunless bar, urban style right in the middle of high Harvard civilization, belting out some misty time Hank Williams tune, maybe Cold, Cold Heart from father home times. Order another deadened drink, slightly benny-addled, then in walks a vision. A million time in walks a vision, but in white this time. Signifying? Signifying adventure, dream one-night stands, lost walks in loaded woods, endless stretch beaches, moonless nights, serious caresses, and maybe, just maybe some cosmic connection to wear away the days, the long days ahead. Ya that seems right, right against the oil-beggared time, right.
Lashed against the high end double seawall, bearded, slightly graying against the forlorn time, a vision in white not enough to keep the wolves of time away, the wolves of feckless petty larceny times reappear, reappear with a vengeance against the super-rational night sky and big globs of ancient hurts fester against some unknown enemy, unnamed, or hiding out in a canyon under an assumed name. Then night, the promise of night, a night run up some seawall laden streets, some Grenada night or maybe Lebanon sky boom night, and thoughts of finite, sweet flinty finite haunt his dreams, haunt his sleep. Wrong number, brother. Ya, wrong number, as usual.
White truce flags neatly placed in right pocket. Folded aging arms showing the first signs of wear-down, unfolded. One more time, one more war-weary dastardly fight against Persian gulf oil-driven time, against a bigger opponent, and then the joys of retreat and taking out those white flags again and normalcy. The first round begins. He holds his own, a little wobbly. Second round he runs into a series of upper-cuts that drive him to the floor. Out. Awake later, seven minutes, hours, eons later he takes out the white flags now red with his own blood. He clutches them in his weary hands. The other he said struggle, struggle. Ya, easy for you to say.
Desperately clutching his new white flags, his 9/11 white flags, exchanged years ago for bloodied red ones, white flags proudly worn for a while now, he wipes his brow of the sweat accumulated from the fear he has been living with for the past few months. Now ancient arms folded, hard-folded against the rainless night, raining, he carefully turns right, left, careful of every move as the crowd comes forward. Not a crowd, no, a horde, a beastly horde, and this is no time to stick out with white flags (or red, for that matter). He jumps out of the way, the horde passes brushing him lightly, not aware, not apparently aware of the white flags. Good. What did that other guy say, oh yes, struggle.
One more battle, one more, please one more, one fight against the greed tea party night. He chains himself, well not really chains, but more like ties himself to the black wrought-iron fence in front of the big white house with his white handkerchief. Another guy does the same, except he uses some plastic hand-cuff-like stuff. A couple of women just stand there, hard against that ebony fence, can you believe it, just stand there. More, milling around, disorderly in a way, someone starts om-ing, om-ing out of Allen Ginsberg Howl nights, or at least Jack Kerouac Big Sur splashes. The scene is complete, or almost complete. Now, for once he knows, knows for sure, that it wasn’t Ms. Cora whom he needed to worry about, and that his child dream was a different thing altogether. But who, just a child, could have known that then.
Beatles, Class of 1964, counterculture, generation of '68, Rock and Roll, The Rolling Stones