Thing a Week 10 – When I’m 25 or 64

By JoCo November 18, 2005

This is my first ever mashup. I’m on the road so my recording capabilities are limited, plus I’m so angry about this whole Sony rootkit thing that I felt like a little illegality was called for. I’m too old to smash things, so this copyright violation will have to do. I did actually purchase these songs from the iTunes music store, but then in order to get them into a workable form I had to circumvent the DRM by recording the audio out from my iPod. Hear that?! I circumvented the DRM in a blatant violation of federal laws! And I’d do it again!

Like many mashups, this really starts and ends with the title – a blend of Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4” and the Beatles song “When I’m 64.” I’m all about the numbers you see. It’s not quite as successful as I’d hoped (turns out it’s pretty hard to do this well). There are times when they work well together, but I can’t escape the feeling that I’m just listening to two songs at once, not a new coherent musical thing. If you don’t understand what makes McCartney melodies so great, you should try taking one out of its original musical context – they have deep roots.

Here is the song: When I’m 25 or 64


Glenn says

Whee, I love both those songs. It sounds like it's really hard to do well, but I like it. Not jarring like many of the mashups I've heard. The distortion at the end comes out of left field, though.

It occurs to me that did a semi-mashup back in the last 80s when I made a tape for a friend of mine and edited together Pink Floyd's "Waiting for the Worms" with "I Am The Walrus" (Why not "Waiting for the Sun", I now wonder. Maybe too obvious. As it was, it yielded the oddly logical line of "Sitting in an English Garden, waiting for the WORM TO COME.")

JoCo says

Jeez Glenn, you're the Quick Draw McGraw of comments. I like the distortion at the end - I wanted Paul to sing a nice long note, but he didn't, so I s t r e t c h e d it way out until it sounded terrible. I think it works nicely (in an awful way) with the terrible train wreck of horns that ends the Chicago song.

Gle3nn says

This was a good mix of the two songs. I enjoyed it alot. I have a collection of all the odd mixtures I have found over the years. Have you ever heard the Mission Impossible/Norwegian wood arrangement? There is also a group that did a mix of Metallica's Enter Sandman mixed with Taxman. I love the combination of common ideas from unrelated groups. There needs to be an album of Unintentional Duets.

Glenn says

Pure coincidence, I swear, JC. I'm really not obessively checking the site. Well, not constantly, at any rate. I just happened to check my LiveJournal friends page and didn't wait for iTunes to catch the podcast.

I do actually like the song (I listened to it a couple more times after posting), and I'm sure I'll get used to the distortion.

Glenn (not Gle3nn)

Erik says

That's right, screw the man!

Daniel says

I agee with Erik... screw the man! And as far as mashups go, I liked it. I do prefer your original work, but I'll cut you some slack since you've been busy. I guess what surprised me most about it is that it didn't suck (as you'd been saying it would).

Gle3nn (the 3 is silent) says

This has been running through my head all day. Every time I listen to it I still giggle.

mhenry1384 says

Ok, so, apropos of nothing, but I was completely blown away by this song by Imogen Heap:
Just a chick and a vocoder.

Which leads me to the question: when are we going to hear Mr. Coulton's Glee Club chops with some vocoder action?

Edminster says

Not a fan of mashups normally, but I have to say I'm glad I downloaded this one. As a side effect, I'm going to start actually listening to Beatles songs when they come on over the Muzak system at work. Thank you for opening my musical horizons, Mr. Coulton.

Gle3nn says

Yes I said giggle.

The Almighty Charles says

THIS is a follow up to the story you broke (to me, anyway). "Sony to suspend making antipiracy CDs."

Burns! says

This didn't suck at all. I'm a fan of mash-ups, and this one is pretty cool. It's no Kleptones, but it's pretty darn good.

And, I must concur with those above who said, "Screw the man!"

Brian says

Hey, this is cool -- especially because McCartney turned 25 just after releasing "When I'm 64."

Gle3nn says

That's cool. I'll be 64 in 25 years

Chuy says

I have become quite a fan over the last several "things," but I have to confirm your suspicion that this one sucks. That said, I am unfamiliar with the concept of mashups. Maybe I'm just not fond of the genre. As you said, it's like listening to both songs at once. It adds nothing new, and from my perspective, does harm to each song. It's not the electronica/sampling; I really liked Sibling Rivalry.

Ah well, just wanted to inject a little criticism into all of this tongue wagging. Please keep up the good work.

Mary says

I absolutely loved the first verse and the dissonant close, but the layering of the Chicago vocals against Paul during the choruses, and then a chunk of the original Beatles song against Chicago later on, was distracting and made me think I was listening to two songs at once, too. But the original mix was glorious and you definitely should do this again.

I know that most of the early mashups I've heard were pretty strict in form, usually backing tracks from song A and vocals from song B. More recent mashups sometimes bring in additional vocals from song A, but these are usually very limited and treated as a simple riff rather than counter-lyrics. Did you start this mashup as an old-school purist, or were you trying for the current more complex approach from the beginning?

JoCo says

Mary: I'm not sure I had a plan at the outset. As I say, it was mostly the title that made me do it, not so much the musical ideas (which may have been my first mistake). Once I figured out that it would kind of work, I just had to push through. I do like the newer approach when it works though.

Edddy says

I liked it

Mark says

Jesus Christ, I hate you.

Jonathan Feinberg says

Brilliant. The modes from the two songs go together so well.

cat says

The first time I listened to this song, I thought the title had to do with the fact that 25 and 64 are both square numbers. Is that a coincidence?

...I guess that makes me a dork. :-D

Um says

I'm sorry, but these songs don't go together at all. The end of Paul's singing line on the verses is a D7 and then cuts to an F and then an E on the Chicago horns. I'm sorry, but the F# to the F really bugs me and pretty much ruined the mash-up, although the E to the Aminor when Paul resumes singing is ok. I'm a composer and musician and don't know much about electronic music, but I'm sure that you could, if you wanted to, modulate the Chicago riff into a different key (say, G to F# instead of F to E) without the tune losing integrity. I think that mash-ups can work and sound good, for the record, but this one has some major tonal problems.

Richard says

Brilliant mash-up. The distortion at the end is ace IMHO:-)

morgan says

I'm triing to find a version of 25 or 6 to 5 by Chicago without brass, a pretty hard rock but not "heavy metel" sound. I heard it only once a few years ago and am pretty sure it was Chicago. Can anyone help me find this? Thanks.