“Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I’m 64?”– The Beatles
In a few days, I’m going to get an answer to that question. It was asked in June of 1967 when “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” recently declared the most influential rock album of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine, was released by the Beatles.
I’m going to turn 64 in a few days, and I remember the first time I heard that song. I sure couldn’t picture myself being this old, and if I could, I would have pictured myself looking like Bob Hope or Jack Benny. Maybe smoking a pipe, wearing suspenders and driving a big, long Buick.
If the song were released today, it would probably have to be changed to, “When I’m 74,” or “When I’m 84.”
Sixty-four ain’t what it used to be.Don’t get me wrong; it’s still old. I know because I’m told all the time by listeners to my talk show, emailers and people in the Twittersphere. “You think everything was better in the ’50s and ’60s.”
I actually don’t. I mean, how could I? There was no Twitter in 1967.
Or Jersey Shore.
I will admit to being a little gun-shy about admitting my age after I reached my late 50s, but not anymore. I think it’s an asset that I have no reason to apologize for.
I have a perspective that a lot, if not most, of the people working in the media don’t have.
I remember when the Steelers stunk.
I remember when Pittsburgh didn’t have a pro hockey team.
I remember when the Pirates were a real Major League Baseball team and by far the most popular Pittsburgh sports team.
I saw Roberto Clemente play. If someone claims Starling Marte’s arm is as good as his, I can dispute it with authority. Not because I think players in the ’60s were better than current players, but because I saw Clemente play hundreds of games.
I saw Terry Bradshaw play.
When someone declares Ben Roethlisberger is the best quarterback in Steelers history, I can dispute it. Not because I think football players in the ’70s were better than current players, but because I know Roethlisberger does nothing better than Bradshaw.
Except slide. Back in June 1967, there were race riots in Boston, Cincinnati, Tampa and Buffalo. The Supreme Court unanimously ended the laws against interracial marriage and Muhammad Ali was sentenced to five years in prison for evading the military draft.
How’s that for some things that weren’t better in the ’60s?
Of course, unlike today, in 1967, I actually knew who the heavyweight champion of the world was. So, I’m right when I say boxing was better in the ’60s than it is now. Not because I’m old, but because I remember what a big deal boxing used to be before it was ruined by people like Don King.
When you reach this point in life, you do have to guard against always saying things were better in the good old days. Not because you might be right most of the time, but because, video tape and Youtube notwithstanding, as time goes on, there are more and more people who have to take your word for it.
I found lots of proof that being 64 shouldn’t sentence you to nothing but having Vera, Chuck and Dave sit on your knee, getting out of the way and letting someone else fill the opinion void. (There’s a song reference in there. If you got it, you’re old, too.) The highest rated talk show host in the history of radio, Rush Limbaugh, is still going strong at 61.
The highest rated, prime time host in cable news, Bill O’Reilly, is 63.
The most popular talk show on ESPN is co-hosted by 64 year-old Tony Kornheiser.
Bob Costas, the Boy Wonder, is 60.
Do you believe in miracles? Al Michaels is 68.
David Letterman is 65.
Jay Leno is 62.
Sylvester Stallone is 66 and coming off two box office hits as an action hero.
Bruce Springsteen is 63.
Terry Bradshaw is 64 and still one of the most popular personalities on television, sports or otherwise.
Tom Coughlin is 65 and a defending Super Bowl Champion head coach.
Bill Belichick is 60. His Patriots lost to Coughlin’s Giants in the Super Bowl.
Nick Saban is 61 and a defending College Football Mythical Champion head coach.
Davey Johnson is 69. His team, the Washington Nationals, went into the weekend with the best record in Major League Baseball.
Dusty Baker is 63, and his Reds are one game behind.
Jim Leyland is 69, and his Tigers went into the weekend leading the American League Central.
Will you still need me, will you still feed me? Puh-lease!
Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
John Steigerwald writes a Sunday column for the Observer- Reporter. His website is justwatchthegame. com
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