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"My Way"
Song by Frank Sinatra

from the album My Way

Released 1969
Recorded 1969
Genre Traditional pop
Length 4:35
Label Reprise
Writer Paul Anka
Composer Claude François, Jacques Revaux
Producer Sonny Burke
My Way track listing
"All My Tomorrows"
(5)
"My Way"
(6)
"A Day in the Life of a Fool"
(7)

"My Way" is an English version of a French song. The English lyrics were written by Paul Anka and popularized by Frank Sinatra on his 1969 album My Way. The melody is that of the French song "Comme d'habitude" composed in 1967 by Claude François and Jacques Revaux. Anka's English lyrics are unrelated to the original French by Claude François and Gilles Thibaut. "My Way" is often quoted as the most remade song in history.

Contents

Themes

The lyrics of "My Way" tell the story of a man who is nearing death. As he reflects on his life, he has few regrets for how he lived it, saying that, as he reviews the challenges he’s faced, he is comfortable with and takes responsibility for how he dealt with all the ups and downs of his life while maintaining a respectable degree of integrity.

Origin

Paul Anka heard the original 1967 French pop song, Comme d'habitude (as usual) performed by Claude Francois with music by Claude Francois and Jacques Revaux and lyrics by Claude Francois and Gilles Thibault, while on holiday in the south of France. He flew to Paris to negotiate the rights to the song.[1] In a 2007 interview, he said: "I thought it was a bad record, but there was something in it."[2] He acquired publishing rights at no cost[3] and, two years later, had a dinner in Florida with Frank Sinatra and "a couple of Mob guys" at which Sinatra said he was "quitting the business. I'm sick of it, I'm getting the hell out". [2]

Back in New York, Anka re-wrote the original French song for Sinatra, subtly altering the melodic structure and changing the lyrics: "At one o'clock in the morning, I sat down at an old IBM electric typewriter and said, 'If Frank were writing this, what would he say?' And I started, metaphorically, 'And now the end is near.' I read a lot of periodicals, and I noticed everything was 'my this' and 'my that'. We were in the 'me generation' and Frank became the guy for me to use to say that. I used words I would never use: 'I ate it up and spit it out.' But that's the way he talked. I used to be around steam rooms with the Rat Pack guys - they liked to talk like Mob guys, even though they would have been scared of their own shadows." Anka finished the song at 5am. "I called Frank up in Nevada - he was at Caesar's Palace - and said, 'I've got something really special for you.'"[2] Anka claimed: "When my record company caught wind of it, they were very pissed that I didn't keep it for myself. I said, 'Hey, I can write it, but I'm not the guy to sing it.' It was for Frank, no one else."[2]

Frank Sinatra recorded his version of the song on December 30, 1968 and it was rush-released in early 1969. It reached #27 in the U.S. In the UK the single achieved a still unmatched record, becoming the recording with most weeks inside the Top 40. It spent 75 weeks between April 1969 and Sep 1971. It has spent a further 49 weeks in the Top 75 but never bettered the #5 slot achieved upon its first chart run. [4]

Dorothy Squires version

In the midst of Sinatra's multiple runs on the UK Singles Chart, Welsh singer Dorothy Squires also released a rendition of "My Way", released in Summer 1970. Her recording reached number 10 on the UK Singles Chart, and itself re-entered the chart twice more during that year.

Elvis Presley version

Elvis Presley began performing the song in concert during the mid-1970s, in spite of suggestions by Paul Anka, who told him it was not a song that would suit him. Nevertheless, on January 12 and 14 of 1973 Presley sang the song during his satellite show "Aloha from Hawaii", beamed live and on deferred basis (for European audiences, who also saw it in prime time), to 43 countries via Intelsat, the only time that a single entertainer faced such a worldwide audience. In the continental US, the show was carried by NBC, and shown in primetime on 14 April, thus achieving very high ratings and eventually helping the show reach a worldwide viewership of over 1 billion.

On October 3, 1977, several weeks after his death, his live recording of "My Way" (recorded for the "Elvis In Concert" CBS-TV special on June 21, 1977) was released as a single. In the U.S., it reached number 22 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart, number 6 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and the following year reached number 2 on the Billboard Country singles chart but went all the way to number 1 on the rival Cash Box Country Singles chart. In the UK, it reached number 9 on the UK Singles Chart.

Sid Vicious version

Sex Pistols' bassist Sid Vicious did a punk rock version of the song. This version, in which a large body of the words were changed and the arrangement was sped up, charted at #7 in the UK in 1978. The orchestral backing was arranged by Simon Jeffes.

Interviewed in 2007, Paul Anka said he had been "somewhat destabilised by the Sex Pistols' version. It was kind of curious, but I felt he (Sid Vicious) was sincere about it." [2]

Vicious did not know all the lyrics to the song when it was recorded, so he improvised several lyrics. Vicious' reference to a "prat who wears hats" was an in-joke directed towards Vicious' friend John Lydon, who was fond of wearing different kinds of hats he would pick up at rummage sales.

In the Philippines it was believed that Vicious' version was inspired by deposed dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, where in the first part of the song Vicious attempted to imitate the voice of the late dictator.[citation needed]

An edited version of the Sid Vicious cover is played during the closing credits of the movie Goodfellas.

In her album The End, released in conjunction with the second live-action Nana movie, singer and actress Mika Nakashima performs a cover of Sid Vicious's version of the song with what sounds like an audience singing background vocals.

The video has a very controversial ending, in which it graphically depicts Sid Vicious killing audience members with a gun. Including violent images of audience members being shot, complete with blood. At the end, Vicious inspects the blood spattered corpses slumped in their seats, smirks, and then makes a hand gesture to the stunned crowd, before walking off.

This portion of the video was quickly censored by most media outlets. Although the censored version was still controversial, it merely showed him wildly shooting a gun towards the crowd. All of the images of the bullet impacts and corpses were cut out.

Nina Hagen version

"My Way"
Single by Nina Hagen Band
from the album In Ekstase
Released 1980
Format 7" single
Length 9:36
Label CBS
Nina Hagen Band singles chronology
"TV-Glotzer"
(1978)
"My Way"
(1980)
"African Reggae"
(1980)

Nina Hagen released a version of "My Way" as a single in 1980.

Track list

  1. My Way 4:25
  2. Alptraum 4:06 (=Nightmare)
  3. No Way 1:05

Other versions

Nina Simone had success with her re-arranged version of the song, released on 1971's Here Comes the Sun, which was more upbeat and melodic, and included a syncopated rhythm highlighted by the addition of conga drums. It became a staple of her live concerts.

Brook Benton hit the pop, R&B, and easy listening charts with a recording of the song in 1970.

Greta Keller always included the song during her last decade performing and did a duet with Rod McKuen singing the song at Lincoln Center in New York City and in Vienna.

U2 regularly performed a snippet of "My Way" at the end of their song "Ultraviolet (Light My Way)" during their 1992-1993 Zoo TV Tour.

Broadway luminary Patti LuPone performs this song as part of her one-woman show Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda.

"My Way" is a favorite of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Minuteman Marching Band, which often concludes its performances with the song.

One of Argentina's top rock performers, Andres Calamaro released "My Way" in an interesting reggae version in his Las otras caras de Alta Suciedad album.

Runner up Raymond Quinn from the UK TV series X Factor covered 'My Way' for his album Ray Quinn.

Jean Shy recorded a version of the song with The Real Climax Band Cologne for their CD "The Night Time Is The Right Time," released in Germany in 1995 on King Edward Records.

Bobby Solo does a recording of the song in Italian called "La Mia Strada".

The Romanian rock singer Dida Drăgan recorded this song in 1977, with Romanian lyrics, accompanied by National Radio-Television Pop Orchestra, conducted by Sile Dinicu. This was the last videoclip filmed by Alexandru Bocăneţ, dead in the 1977 Vrancea earthquake.

Popular Ukrainian rock band Okean Elzy performed the song (the only one of the set in English) during their symphony-accompanied renaissance tour.

A black metal version of the song has been performed by the French band Mütiilation on the album From the Entrails to the Dirt.

Robbie Williams sang My Way in his concert at the Royal Albert Hall in October 10, 2001. This version of the song was recorded and released in the DVD Live At The Albert

The symphonic metal group Northern Kings covered this song in their latest album, Rethroned, released November 19, 2008.

The German Euro Disco artist Fancy covered the song on his 2008 album Forever Magic.

British satirical show Spitting Image, who frequently ended each episode with a musical number, rounded off a season with a puppet of Margaret Thatcher singing the song word-for-word.

The Pogues' Shane MacGowan recorded a punk cover of the song, reaching #29 on the UK singles chart. His version was used for a Nike commercial.

Japanese pop singer Mika Nakashima covered the song on her 2006 album The End. The song, like the whole of The End album is credited as Nana starring Mika Nakashima.

The Blazed Joker, member of comedy band "The Brentwoods", released a version as his second solo single on January 19, 2010.[5]

Alternate versions

When David Bowie was asked to write English lyrics to "Comme d'habitude" in 1968, the song he came up with was "Even a Fool Learns to Love." However, Paul Anka bought the rights to the original French version, and Bowie's version was never released. "Life on Mars?" was Bowie's riposte to losing out on a fortune; it has similar chords to "My Way."[6]

Rapper Jay-z covered the song on his 2002 release the The Blueprint²: The Gift & the Curse.

In 1969, Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz were the first to release a Spanish version, "A Mi Manera", which later won them a Gold record.

In 1972, the Spanish singer Raphael recorded a close translation to Spanish "A mi manera" from the lyrics of Paul Anka that got to number one in sales in Spain and Latin America. Vicente Fernandez followed suit in 1983 when he recorded a cover of it in his album 15 grandes con el numero uno.

Beatrice Arthur sang a version of the song in an episode of Maude

Paul Potts recorded "A Mi Manera" for his album One Chance.

It was also sung by Maria Martha Serra Lima

Anka also duetted with Julio Iglesias in a unique Spanglish version of "My Way" on Anka's duets album Amigos.

The song "A Mi Manera", on the Gipsy Kings' eponymous 1988 album Gipsy Kings, is a loose translation of Anka's lyrics into Spanish.

Robin Williams, voicing the penguin character Ramón, sings A Mi Manera in the CGI animated movie Happy Feet. The song was featured on the soundtrack album Happy Feet: Music from the Motion Picture.

In a segment for Sesame Street, Oscar the Grouch sang an anti-littering song called "Just Throw It My Way", a parody of the song.

Songwriter Bob Blue wrote a satire about life as a college student called "Their Way" (Lyrics). Washington economist and Internet poet, David Martin, chose the same title for his retirement satire.

WWE superstar The Rock sung a parody of it entitled 'Rock's Way'.

Vytautas Juozapaitis, a soloist of Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre recorded a Lithuanian version entitled "Esu Laimingas" on his debut album Negaliu Nemyleti (Can't Help Falling In Love), released in 2004.

Bollywood Music director Pritam include a version of this song "Is This Love" in his film Pyaar Ke Side Effects, in 2006.

Russian singer Iosif Kobzon, during the concert dedicated to his 70th anniversary (in 2007), performed the Russian version of the song "Moy put'" (Russian text written by Ilia Reznik).

Professional Snooker player Dominic Dale sang a bit of the song in an interview after winning the 2007 Shanghai Masters Cup, with the audience cheering him on.

Gary Chaw, a Malaysian-Chinese singer, sang a cover of "My Way" in the form of a duet in 2007. He demonstrated his versatile vocal range by singing a lower voice as the man, and a much higher voice as the woman.

In 2007 Paul Anka released the album Classic Songs, My Way, which include the song in a duet with Jon Bon Jovi.

In 2007, in the second of their specials covering the 2007 Australian Federal Election, Andrew Hansen of The Chaser performed a version summarising the events of the Howard Government[7]

Russian streetpunk band F.P.G. made heavy cover of "My Way" with original russian lyrics.[8]

Cultural references

Popularity as a tribute

"My Way" was found to be the song most frequently played at British funeral services.[9]

It was played at the 1992 Winston Cup Awards Banquet in honor of Alan Kulwicki.[10] The tribute was also played on ESPN following Kulwicki's death in April 1993.

William Shatner opened the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award tribute to George Lucas by performing a spoken word version of the song.

Similarly, Frank Sinatra performed a version of the song at the 2nd AFI Lifetime Achievement Award tribute to James Cagney.[11]

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder requested the song for his final military send-off (Zapfenstreich (in German)) prior to the inauguration of Angela Merkel.

At the 2006 Boston Celtics season opener, a video tribute set to Sinatra's version of "My Way" was shown to honor Red Auerbach, who had died days earlier. It was also used during a video tribute for Boom-Boom Geoffrion's jersey retirement.

In 2009 the song was sung by Laura Wright at Portmand Road during a reception to rename the North Stand the Sir Bobby Robson Stand,in respect of the then recently deceased Bobby. Sir Bobby had been a huge Frank Sinatra fan.

References in songs

The chorus of Bon Jovi's "It's My Life" (subsequently covered by Paul Anka on Rock Swings) references the song, in the line "My heart is like an open highway/Like Frankie said, I did it my way."

The eclectic pop duo Sparks released a song titled "When Do I Get to Sing 'My Way'" on their 1994 album Gratuitous Sax & Senseless Violins.

Rapper Jay-Z has made reference to the song several times over his career, and on The Blueprint 2 he samples the tune for his own song, entitled "I Did It My Way."

On his 2005 live DVD Who Put the M in Manchester?, Morrissey kicks off the set list by singing an a cappella snippet of "My Way", prior to launching into "First of the Gang to Die".

Other popular culture references

The identification of the song with Sinatra became so strong, and the song so iconic, that the Soviet government of Mikhail Gorbachev jokingly referred to its policy of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other Warsaw Pact countries as the Sinatra Doctrine.

It was briefly sung in Russian in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace by an astronaut. His crew are irritated by the song and shout "Sing at home!", while the singer replies, with a giggle, "At home, they tell me to sing in space."

In 2010, "My Way" is one of the most popular songs sung in karaoke bars around the world, to the point that it has been reported to cause numerous incidents of violence and homicides among drunkards in bars in The Philippines, referred in the media as the "My Way Killings".[12] [13]

"My Way" was in the Buffy season 3 episode "Lover's Walk" twice, first sung by the character Spike in a drunken moment of self-pity, then again at the very end Gary Oldman's version from the film 'Sid And Nancy' was played (as the producers were unable to get permission from the Sex Pistols to use Sid's version).

"My Way" was played at the 880th victory of Bobby Knight. He passed Dean Smith as the coach with the most wins in NCAA Division I basketball with this win.

When former Australian Prime Minister, John Gorton stood down as the leader of the Liberal Party and consequencly, as Prime Minister, a video montage was put together with photos of his career, with "My Way" as the backing song.

A version of "My Way" appears and is sung by Anthony Michael Hall (as Bill Gates) in the movie Pirates of Silicon Valley.

During an interview with J. K. Rowling she mentioned that "My Way" was the song that she would have played at Professor Dumbledore's funeral.

In a holiday episode of General Hospital, the character of Luke Spencer sang the song in a sequence in which he was about to enter heaven while he was having heart surgery.

The Elvis Presley version was briefly heard in the climax of the 2001 movie 3000 Miles to Graceland. (ironically, writer Paul Anka appeared in the movie)

The title of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode His Way which introduces Vic Fontaine, a fictional Rat Pack-era crooner, was clearly based on the title of the song.

An early eBay commercial featured a variation with the lyrics "I did it eBay".

In the 1997 film "George of the Jungle" the ape named Ape performs the song as a wild dance number in Las Vegas.

Recorded by

References

  1. ^ http://music.guardian.co.uk/vinylword/story/0,,2129407,00.html How Sinatra did it My Way - via a French pop star and a Canadian lounge act
  2. ^ a b c d e "Daily Telegraph interview, 8 November, 2007". http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2007/11/08/bmanka108.xml. 
  3. ^ Paul Anka, "With Paul Anka, 'Rock Swings'", interviewed on Fresh Air, WHYY, 8 August, 2005
  4. ^ http://www.everyhit.com/record6.html
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Life On Mars from BBC2 Radio's song library
  7. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rzs2SCeqry8 John Howard His Way
  8. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qc5vqq7wlmE
  9. ^ My Way tops funeral charts – An article in The Guardian
  10. ^ Gary D'Amato (July 25, 1999). "Honor stirs up fond memories of Kulwicki". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. http://www2.jsonline.com/sports/race/jul99/damato25072499.asp. Retrieved 2007-07-25. 
  11. ^ Frank Sinatra Sings "He Did It His Way" For James Cagney
  12. ^ Utton, Dominic (28 March 2009). "My Way: The story behind the song". Daily Express. London: Northern and Shell Media Publications. http://www.dailyexpress.co.uk/posts/view/91687. Retrieved 11 July 2009. ""Meanwhile in the Philippines My Way is so popular at karaoke bars that it has been declared responsible for a number of deaths after arguments over performances degenerated into violence - a social phenomenon referred to by the Philippine media as "My Way killings"."" 
  13. ^ Onishi, Norimitsu (6 February 2010). "Sinatra Song Often Strikes Deadly Chord". New York Times. New York: New York Times Inc.. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/07/world/asia/07karaoke.html. Retrieved 9 February 2009. ""Whatever the reason, many karaoke bars have removed the song from their playbooks. And the country’s many Sinatra lovers...are practicing self-censorship out of perceived self-preservation."" 
Preceded by
"Take This Job and Shove It"
by Johnny Paycheck
RPM Country Tracks
number-one single (Elvis Presley version)

January 21-January 28, 1978
Succeeded by
"What a Difference You've Made in My Life"
by Ronnie Milsap







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