I first heard that famous Beatles song in the summer of 1967. My dad drove me to a record store in downtown Tucson so I could purchase "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." I remember listening through the album and feeling totally amazed. In four years the Beatles had traveled eons musically. Songs about Sgt. Pepper and Lucy and Rita played over and over again in my head. What had been started on Revolver had continued on the new release - voices altered, tapes played backward, songs built around a single chord. Remember the moment when the Wizard of Oz switches from black and white to color? That what listening to Sgt. Pepper felt like. The palette of colors was like nothing I'd ever seen or heard or felt.
"When I'm 64" would normally seem out of place on a pop music record. Except that is fit perfectly on Pepper. It's placed in the perfect spot on the album, following "Within You, Without You." As the story goes, Paul McCartney wrote the tune when he was a teenager. The words came later and captured perfectly the lament of those who have reached a certain age. "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?" That's how it is as we age. Will our wisdom be wanted? Will our experience, earned through the mistakes and missteps we've made and taken, be worth anything for those we love and care for? When I listened to Pepper, over and over and over again in the summer of '67, I couldn't have imagined what life would be like for me when I reached the ripe old age of 64.
How could I have known that a year later my family would move from Tucson to Mesa? Or that I would meet my future wife, the beautiful Sherri Landis? How could I have known that our journeys would take us from Mesa to St. Louis to Hilton Head Island, SC and back to the Valley of the Sun. Or that I would realize both of my career aspirations - to work in radio broadcasting and to work in the church. How could I have known that Sherri and I would be blessed with three wonderful children and six grandchildren? Or that Sherri's nursing career would lead her to touch lives with compassionate care to teaching future nurses how to offer compassionate care? How could I have known that God would bless me with the opportunity to serve such a wonderful group of people at Life in Christ?
Since the Beatles have provided the musical soundtrack to my life, it is only fitting, I guess, that this weekend has been all about the Fab Four. Friday, the film, "Eight Days a Week" was given its premiere in London. Paul and Ringo Starr were there. The next day the film was released in the States and on Hulu, a video streaming service.
Sherri and I saw the film last night. We were not disappointed. Although most of the audience were baby boomers, there were some younger folks there too which made me happy. Ron Howard's decision to focus on the touring years was pivotal. While the story of Beatlemania has been told many, many times, Howard brings you as close to the mania as you can get. One can really see how the exuberance of touring in 1963-64 had completely lost its luster in 65-66. When the Beatles had completed their last concert in San Francisco, they were all ready to put that part of their career behind them.
I loved the film and really enjoyed watching the Shea Stadium concert footage that followed "Eight Days a Week." It is often mentioned that John Lennon kind of freaked out during that show. His manic playing of the organ on "I'm Down" was wild! And yet, McCartney seems almost hyper during the entire performance. One can see the absolute joy McCartney receives while performing live. It's one of the reasons that at 74 he's still performing - he loves it!
This weekend our little group played at both the Saturday and Sunday services. The group - Dan, Connie, Ron and Pete surprised me at the end of the services by singing "Birthday" and "When I'm 64," albeit with revised lyrics, courtesy of Dan. Totally unexpected and gratefully received!
I've got some running around to do today so I think I'm going to grab the Sgt. Pepper cd and give it a play or two. If you see some guy driving around and seemingly singing at the top of his lungs, it's probably me. Don't worry - it's something you get to do when you're 64!