This story is numerically accurate, at least.

Paul McCartney wrote this song in 1956, a year before I was born, and before Mary Gjerness was born. He was 14.

It was released to the public on the album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, in the spring of 1967. I was 10. Mary was 9. We had met the year before. McCartney was 25. We had not and have never met him.

I heard the song, and the whole album, often that summer. It was the Summer of Love.

Mary and I might have fled to Haight-Ashbury together, except our parents would have disapproved, and, well, we didn’t know each other that well. Also, we were kids.

The song may have implanted ideas in my head, though, because 7 years later, in the fall of 1974, I worked up the courage to ask her on a date.

It did not go well.

Shortly afterwards, Mary departed for Southeast Asia, where she studied martial arts and eventually returned to the United States to right great wrongs as the Batwoman.

I fled the opposite way, to languish in exile in exotic Indiana. I returned having learned no lessons, to repeat the same mistakes yet again. In the summer of 1976, when the song was 9 years old, I asked Mary out on a second date.

It went a little better.

I was 19. Mary was 18. Paul McCartney was 34 years old. He had nothing to do with us, but we all kind of wish we were that young again.

It was about this time that I began to wonder whether she would still be interested in needing me and feeding me when I turned 64.

She said the word. We filled in a form. We got married in 1980, when I was 23 and she was 22. Tentatively, the answer was “yes”, but I still needed empirical confirmation of the robustness of the agreement.

Suddenly! Unexpectedly! To everyone’s surprise! Forty one years flew by. Finally, I can answer the questions in the song.

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? Ooh
You’ll be older too.
Ah, 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?
Ev’ry 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 forevermore.
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I’m sixty four? Ho!

Yes, she still sends me valentines and birthday greetings. No, she doesn’t drink…wine.

Yes, she will lock the door if I’m out very late. But I have a key!

She probably needs me less than I need her, but she will still feed me.

Mary, unfortunately, must wait until September to find out if I reciprocate.

Wait, the song is over! What happens now? What about when we’re 65? 74? 103? I guess I better find out. My new mission: to determine the accuracy of the lyrics in the song, “In the Year 2525”.


  1. JoeBuddha says

    Congratulations! I passed that milestone last year and we’re still together, so there you go. And, yeah, that song was going through MY head when I became that age.

  2. strangerinastrangeland says

    Never one of my favorite songs of the Beatles, but of course very nice in context – an a sweet story! Congratulations PZ!

    For a fitting, non-age related love song, listen to Depeche Mode’s “Somebody”; although it sounds as if you got that somebody already.

  3. leerudolph says

    Why do we never get reports on Vera, Chuck, Dave, or the spider population of the Isle of Wight?

  4. Samuel Vimes says

    Another orbit around the sun completed! May the future hold many more such journeys for you and yours!

  5. Ice Swimmer says

    Congratulations PZ! I was born around the time of your unsuccessful date attempt (late autumn 1974) in a land two fifths of the globe away, in a country neighbouring two of the countries from which your ancestors came from.

  6. hiddenheart says

    Happy birthday! And thank you for the lovely gift of good feelings and outright laughter.

  7. Howard Brazee says

    I remember singing that song to my wife just before my 64th birthday. I had no idea it was pre-Beatles.

    I also remember enjoying the song “In the Year 2525”, but I have listened to it recently and don’t picture a future like that.

  8. christoph says

    Happy birthday! It probably helped your marriage stay afloat what with Mary studying marital arts.

  9. Pierre Le Fou says

    Happy Birthday PZ! Not every Beatles song is great (far from it), but I always liked that one. Right from the start I knew you were talking about it before you named it.

  10. whheydt says

    Happy birthday. Mine is coming up later this month when I’ll be 72, and then in May it will be our 50th anniversary.

  11. petesh says

    Lovely piece. Jaunty little number. Paul’s, of course, even though he’s way past that age by now. John: You say you want a revolution? Ringo: I’d like to be under the sea in an octopus’ garden in the shade. Right now, I’d settle for George: Here comes the sun. Please please me!

  12. maireaine46 says

    Happy Birthday! You are so young compared to some of us older farts! Many happy Spiders to you and Mary, a lovely couple. Plus your grandchildren have much cooler names than “Vera, Chuck and Dave”.

  13. Thomas Scott says

    I have always loved that song, not the least because it briefly made playing the bass clarinet cool, … very briefly.

  14. Larry says

    Paul McCartney was 14 years old and writing a song that would still be part of the popular music culture 64 years later and with no signs that it will be going away soon. When I was 14, I was playing clarinet in my 8th grade band.

  15. PaulBC says

    I still have some time (to learn the song lyrics). Vera, Chuck, and Dave seem unlikely though not entirely possible at this rate.

  16. PaulBC says

    And somebody get Douglas Hofstadter on the phone, because “You’re Mother Should Know” has gone self-referential. OK, not quite for my kids since Magical Mystery Tour wasn’t released till 1967, but surely there are kids now with their own kids who are dancing to this song, right? Could be absolutely perfect for a Hofstadter-themed wedding reception.

  17. PaulBC says

    Could be absolutely perfect for a Hofstadter-themed wedding reception.

    Which has got to be an actual thing.

    (OK I will shut up now.)

  18. magistramarla says

    My husband brought up this song in September, 2020, when he had his 64th birthday.
    Since he is such a terrible cook, it’s very important to him that I will still feed him.
    Like Mary, I’ll have to wait until September to catch up in age.
    Happy Birthday, PZ!

  19. chuckonpiggott says

    This song came up in a Twitter thread yesterday. I replied that my wife is 64 and I still love her very much. Also she doesn’t need a grandchild named Chuck. She has me.

  20. publicola says

    Happy BD, PZ. I danced with my wife in the living room to that song when I turned 64, and reprised it when she turned, so, yeah, it’s kinda cool. But you need to put the “White Album” on the record player, crank up the volume and play “Birthday”. That should get yer juices flowing!