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My Way

"My Way" is a song popularized in 1969 by Frank Sinatra set to the music of the French song "Comme d'habitude" composed and written by French songwriter Jacques Revaux, performed in 1967 by Claude François. Its English lyrics were written by Paul Anka and are unrelated to the original French song.

The song was a success for a variety of performers including Sinatra, Jocelyne, Elvis Presley, and Sid Vicious. Sinatra's version of "My Way" spent 75 weeks in the UK Top 40, a record which still stands.

Background

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." He acquired adaptation, recording, and publishing rights for the nominal but formal consideration of one dollar, 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. 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."

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. Anka asserted that "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." 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) and in 2013 (as a duet with Garou).

On December 30, 1968, a few hours before going to celebrate New Year's Eve at the Sands Casino in Las Vegas, Frank Sinatra recorded his version of the song in one take, 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.

Although this work became Frank Sinatra's signature song, his daughter Tina says the 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."

Charts

Certifications

Versions



Dorothy Squires

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 Presley



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.

Elvis' version is featured in the climax of the 2001 film 3000 Miles to Graceland with Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner. (Paul Anka appears in a cameo as a casino pit boss who loathes Presley.)

Certifications

Sid Vicious



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."

Vicious and his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, changed many of the words when it was recorded, including use of the swear words "cunt" and "fuck" as well as the word "queer" (slang for a gay man). 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.

The 1986 film Sid and Nancy features a scene where Gary Oldman, portraying Vicious, performs his version of My Way while filming the song's music video.

Margaret Mackie



In December 2019 footage of Margaret Mackie, a resident of Northcare Suites Care Home in Edinburgh who suffers from dementia, performing My Way with staff member Jamie Lee Morley, went viral after being posted online by Mackie's daughter.

Morley later arranged to have the song professionally recorded and it was released in January 2020 as a charity single to raise funds for The Alzheimer's Society and Dementia UK. The single peaked at number seven in the iTunes top 40 UK Pop Songs live chart and number five in the Amazon best seller chart.

Public use

The song is popularly associated with nostalgia to an individual's lifetime of events. As a result, "My Way" is the song most frequently played at funeral services in the UK. "My Way" is also 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".