Today Paul McCartney decided that a new, faster mix of “When I’m Sixty-Four” was required. Geoff Emerick and George Martin think that Paul wanted to sound younger, “as if he were…a 16-year old looking forward to being 64.” Paul himself says, “George Martin in his book says that I had it speeded up because I wanted to appear younger but I think that was just to make it more rooty-tooty; just lift the key because it was starting to sound a little turgid.”

I’ll leave open, for now, the question of whether making something “more rooty-tooty” is really a good idea. That’s what Paul wanted, and that’s what he got. Thanks to technology, though, I’ve been able to slow down the version that appears on the mono release of Sgt. Pepper by exactly 13%. This is sheer guesswork on my part, but it’s possible that the original, slower recording sounded something like this:

Is it a more interesting recording this way? Eh, maybe a little. I’ve been honest in expressing my opinion that “When I’m Sixty-Four” is one of Paul’s lesser works, and no little tweak is going to make much of a difference. The faster version is certainly shorter, which in my mind is a good thing.

This was the last Beatles session of 1966. With a momentous year looming, a weekend of R&R was not a bad idea; I’m going to follow suit, and so should you.

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