I celebrated a birthday recently, and for some reason (hmmmm..could it be that I’m getting older?), this song – Sixty Years On – came to mind. No, it’s not because I turned 60 (I still have several journeys around the sun until I reach that milestone), but I did find myself thinking about Elton opening up his 60th birthday concert at Madison Square Garden with this classic.
Funny, when I first heard this song, so many years ago, I thought I would never be able to relate to it. LOL. Sixty ain’t that far off now, is it, sister?
Lyrics haunting, music and vocals drawing you into the story, this is truly a beautiful song, accompanied by a quintessential Paul Buckmaster orchestral arrangement, typical of that era of EJ music. Something I’ve always loved about Elton’s music, as a matter of fact.
The song is about an aging and lonely Civil War veteran, eerily reminiscent of Talking Old Soldiers (perhaps vice versa, since this one was written first). I say eerily, because it amazes me that these songs were written by two men who were in their early twenties.
Who’ll walk me down to church when I’m sixty years of age
When the ragged dog they gave me has been ten years in the grave
And señorita play guitar, play it just for you
My rosary has broken and my beads have all slipped through
Sixty Years On is on the eponymous Elton John album. It was released in the US in 1970, his first album to be released in the US (Empty Sky wasn’t released in the US until 1975).
Anyway, turning 60 isn’t as scary to me as it was way back when…but I’m not there yet! Can’t say that I like the thought, but compared to the protagonist of this song, what I bring to that milestone will be far less heavy and burdensome.
Here’s something you don’t see very often – Elton performing without his piano for BBC TV circa 1970:
And here are a couple more versions for you to enjoy:
The Album Version
The 60th Birthday Concert at Madison Square Garden
(I love the look he gives the crowd when he sings “when I’m sixty years of age” – quintessential Elton cheekiness)…
Sixty Years On (Elton John – 1969)