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"My Way" is a song popularized in 1969 by Frank Sinatra. Its lyrics were written by Paul Anka and set to the music of the French song "Comme d'habitude" co-composed and co-written (with Jacques Revaux), and performed in 1967 by Claude François. Anka's English lyrics are unrelated to the original French song. The song was a success for a variety of performers including Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Sid Vicious. Sinatra's version of "My Way" spent 75 weeks in the UK Top 40, a record which still stands.

"My Way"
My Way - Frank Sinatra.jpg
German vinyl release
Single by Frank Sinatra
from the album My Way
B-side "Blue Lace"
Released 1969
Recorded December 30, 1968, Los Angeles
Genre Traditional pop
Length 4:35
Label Reprise
Songwriter(s) Claude François and Jacques Revaux;
English lyrics by Paul Anka
Producer(s) Sonny Burke

Contents

BackgroundEdit

Paul Anka heard the original 1967 French pop song, Comme d'habitude (As Usual) performed by Claude François, 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 shitty record, but there was something in it."[2] He acquired adaptation, recording, and publishing rights for the mere nominal, but formal, consideration of one dollar,[3] subject to the provision that the melody's composers would retain their original share of royalty rights with respect to whatever versions Anka or his designates created or produced.[4] Some time later, Anka had a dinner in Florida with Frank Sinatra and "a couple of Mob guys" during which Sinatra said "I'm 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 5 in the morning. "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] Despite this, Anka would later record the song in 1969 (very shortly after Sinatra's recording was released). Anka recorded it four other times as well: in 1996 (as a duet with Gabriel Byrne, performed in the movie Mad Dog Time), in 1998 in Spanish as "A Mi Manera" (duet with Julio Iglesias), in 2007 (as a duet with Jon Bon Jovi)[5] and in 2013 (as a duet with Garou).[6]

A few hours before going to celebrate New Year's Eve at the Casino SANDS, Frank Sinatra recorded his version of the song on December 30, 1968, which was released in early 1969 on the ‘’My Way’’ LP and as a single. It reached No. 27 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and No. 2 on the Easy Listening chart in the US. In the UK, the single achieved a still unmatched record, becoming the recording with the most weeks inside the Top 40, spending 75 weeks from April 1969 to September 1971. It spent a further 49 weeks in the Top 75 but never bettered the No. 5 slot achieved upon its first chart run.[7]

Although this work became Frank Sinatra's signature song, his daughter Tina says the legendary singer came to hate the song. "He didn't like it. That song stuck and he couldn't get it off his shoe. He always thought that song was self-serving and self-indulgent."[8]

ChartsEdit

Chart (1969) Peak
position
Canada RPM Top Singles[9] 28
Canada RPM Adult Contemporary[10] 2
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[11] 5
US Billboard Hot 100[12] 27
US Billboard Adult Contemporary 2
US Cash Box Top 100[13] 29

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Italy (FIMI)[14] Gold 25,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[15] Silver 991,563[16]

*sales figures based on certification alone

VersionsEdit

Dorothy SquiresEdit

In the midst of Sinatra's multiple runs on the UK Singles Chart, Welsh singer Dorothy Squires also released a rendition of "My Way" in Summer 1970. Her recording reached number 25 on the UK Singles Chart and re-entered the chart twice more during that year.

Elvis PresleyEdit

"My Way"
 
Single by Elvis Presley
from the album Elvis in Concert
B-side "America"
Released October 3, 1977
Format 7" single
Recorded June 21, 1977
Label RCA Records
Songwriter(s) Paul Anka and Claude François
Elvis Presley singles chronology
"Way Down"
(1977)
"My Way"
(1977)
"Unchained Melody"
(1978)

Elvis Presley began performing the song in concert during the mid-1970s, despite Anka's suggestions that the song did not suit him. Nevertheless, on January 12 and 14, 1973, Presley sang the song during his satellite show Aloha from Hawaii Via Satellite, beamed live and on deferred basis (for European audiences, who also saw it in prime time), to 43 countries via Intelsat.

On October 3, 1977, several weeks after Presley's 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 in late-1977/early-1978 (higher than Frank Sinatra's peak position), number 6 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and went Gold for its successful sales of over a million copies. The following year the single 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.

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[17] Platinum 150,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[18] Silver 250,000^
United States (RIAA)[19] Gold 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Sid ViciousEdit

"My Way"
Single by Sid Vicious
from the album The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle
Released 1978
Recorded January–August 1978
Genre Punk rock
Length 4:06
Label Virgin Records
Songwriter(s) Paul Anka, Sid Vicious (A few lines)
Producer(s) Bill Price, Simon Jeffes

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

Interviewed in 2007, Paul Anka said he had been "somewhat destabilized 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, including use of the swear words "cunt" and "fuck" as well as the word "queer" (slang for a gay man).[20] Vicious' reference to a "prat who wears hats" was an in-joke directed towards Vicious' friend and Sex Pistols bandmate Johnny Rotten, who was fond of wearing different kinds of hats he would pick up at rummage sales.

An edited version of Vicious's cover is played during the closing credits of the films Goodfellas and Juan of the Dead.

In her album The End, released in conjunction with the film Nana 2, singer and actress Mika Nakashima performs a cover of Vicious' version of the song with what sounds like an audience singing background vocals.

Chris MannEdit

In 2012 Anka revised the lyrics of the song for Chris Mann's debut album Roads. In Mann's version the song is presented from the perspective of a young man looking to the future instead of an older man reflecting on his life.

OtherEdit

In 1970, British singer Samantha Jones won the music festival held in Belgian Knokke-Heist with a version of "My Way", which subsequently reached #4 on the Dutch charts.[citation needed]

The Pogues' Shane MacGowan recorded a punk cover of the song, reaching No. 29 on the UK singles chart.[citation needed]

In 2002, American rapper Jay-Z released a hip-hop version of "My Way" titled "I Did It My Way" on his album The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse.[21]

In popular cultureEdit

FilmsEdit

FuneralsEdit

  • "My Way" is the song most frequently played at funeral services in the UK.[22]

KaraokeEdit

  • "My Way" is a popular karaoke song around the world. However, it has been reported to cause numerous incidents of violence and homicides among drunkards in bars in the Philippines, referred to in the media as the "My Way killings".[23][24]

PoliticsEdit

  • In 1971 impressionist David Frye (as Nixon) sung "My Way" on the album Radio Free Nixon.
  • Sinatra Doctrine was the name that the Soviet government of Mikhail Gorbachev used jokingly to describe its policy of allowing neighboring Warsaw Pact states to determine their own internal affairs, alluding to the song "My Way" in that the Soviet Union was allowing those states to go their own way.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "How Sinatra did it My Way - via a French pop star and a Canadian lounge act". the Guardian. 
  2. ^ a b c d e McCormick, Neil (November 8, 2007). "Paul Anka: One song the Sex Pistols won't be singing". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved November 8, 2016. 
  3. ^ Paul Anka, "With Paul Anka, 'Rock Swings', Part Two", interviewed on Fresh Air, WHYY, August 10, 2005
  4. ^ The rights holders including Jacques Revaux and Claude François' heirs sold it to Xavier Niel in 2009
  5. ^ "Classic Songs, My Way". 
  6. ^ Forever_Gentlemen
  7. ^ "Record-Breakers and Trivia - everyHit.com". 
  8. ^ "Sinatra 'loathed' My Way". BBC. 30 October 2000. Retrieved 20 June 2016. 
  9. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2016-01-21. 
  10. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2017-01-21. 
  11. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  12. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  13. ^ Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, May 17, 1969
  14. ^ "Italian single certifications – Frank Sinatra – My Way" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved June 25, 2013. 
  15. ^ "British single certifications – Frank Sinatra – My Way". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved June 25, 2013.  Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Enter My Way in the search field and then press Enter.
  16. ^ Copsey, Rob (September 19, 2017). "The UK's Official Chart 'millionaires' revealed". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 19, 2017. 
  17. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Elvis Presley – My Way". Music Canada. 
  18. ^ "British single certifications – Elvis Presley – My Way". British Phonographic Industry.  Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Enter My Way in the search field and then press Enter.
  19. ^ "American single certifications – Elvis Presley – My Way". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  20. ^ "MY WAY LYRICS - SID VICIOUS". 
  21. ^ "The Blueprint²: The Gift & the Curse - Jay-Z | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-05-20. 
  22. ^ My Way tops funeral charts – An article in The Guardian
  23. ^ Utton, Dominic (March 28, 2009). "My Way: The story behind the song". Daily Express. London: Northern and Shell Media Publications. Retrieved July 11, 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".' 
  24. ^ Onishi, Norimitsu (February 6, 2010). "Sinatra Song Often Strikes Deadly Chord". The New York Times. Retrieved February 9, 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.' 

External linksEdit