My Way

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"My Way"
My Way - Frank Sinatra.jpg
German release
Single by Frank Sinatra
from the album My Way
B-side"Blue Lace"
ReleasedMarch 1969 (U.S.)
RecordedDecember 30, 1968, Los Angeles
GenreTraditional pop
Length4:35
LabelReprise
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Sonny Burke
Alternative cover
A-side label of US single
A-side label of US single

"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 songwriters Claude François and Jacques Revaux,[1][2] 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, which is 2nd place all-time.

Background[edit]

In 1967, Jacques Revaux composed a somewhat syrupy song called "For Me", with unsatisfactory lyrics in rather peculiar English.[2] According to Revaux, the demo was then sent to Petula Clark, Dalida and Claude François, to no avail. Revaux rejected a version by Hervé Villard and ended up reworking the track with Claude François, after all, as Comme d'habitude (As Usual).[3] It was released in November 1967 and was at the top of the Frech pop chart for one week in February 1968.[4]

Paul Anka heard the French original, while on holiday in the south of France. He flew to Paris to negotiate the rights to the song.[5][6] He acquired adaptation, recording, and publishing rights for the nominal but formal consideration of one dollar,[7] 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.[8] 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."[6]

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.'"[6] Anka asserted: "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."[6]

Despite this, Anka would 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);[9] and in 2013 (as a duet with Garou).[10]

On December 30, 1968, Frank Sinatra recorded his version of the song in one take, featuring session drummer Buddy Saltzman among the band.[11] “My Way” 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.[12]

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."[13]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1969) Peak
position
Canada RPM Top Singles[14] 28
Canada RPM Easy Listening[15] 2
Ireland (IRMA)[16] 4
UK Singles (OCC)[17] 5
US Billboard Hot 100[18] 27
US Billboard Easy Listening 2
US Cash Box Top 100[19] 29
Chart (2021) Peak
position
Hungary (Single Top 40)[20] 40

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Italy (FIMI)[21] Gold 15,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[23] Gold 991,563[22]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.

Versions[edit]

Dorothy Squires[edit]

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[edit]

"My Way"
Elvis Presley My Way Single Cover.jpg
Single by Elvis Presley
from the album Elvis in Concert
B-side"America"
ReleasedOctober 3, 1977
RecordedJune 21, 1977
GenrePop
Length3:51
LabelRCA 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.

Presley's 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.)

Presley's studio recording of the song was included on the Fourth Disc of "Walk a Mile in My Shoes: The Essential '70s Masters".

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[24] Platinum 150,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[25] Silver 250,000^
United States (RIAA)[26] Gold 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Sid Vicious[edit]

"My Way"
Single by Sid Vicious
from the album The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle
Released1978
RecordedJanuary–August 1978
GenrePunk rock
Length4:06
LabelVirgin 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."[6]

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's reference to a "prat who wears hats" was an in-joke directed towards Vicious's friend and Sex Pistols bandmate Johnny Rotten, who was fond of wearing different kinds of hats he would pick up at rummage sales.[citation needed]

Leonard Cohen said of the song:

I never liked this song except when Sid Vicious did it. Sung straight, it somehow deprives the appetite of a certain taste we’d like to have on our lips. When Sid Vicious did it, he provided that other side to the song; the certainty, the self-congratulation, the daily heroism of Sinatra’s version is completely exploded by this desperate, mad, humorous voice. I can’t go round in a raincoat and fedora looking over my life saying I did it my way — well, for 10 minutes in some American bar over a gin and tonic you might be able to get away with it. But Sid Vicious’s rendition takes in everybody; everybody is messed up like that, everybody is the mad hero of his own drama. It explodes the whole culture this self-presentation can take place in, so it completes the song for me.[27]

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.[28]

Margaret Mackie and Jamie Lee Morley[edit]

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.[29]

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.[30][31]

Public use[edit]

The song is popularly associated with nostalgia to an individual's lifetime of events.[32] Surveys beginning in 2005 have often reported that "My Way" has been the song most frequently played at funeral services in the UK.[33][34] "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".[35][36]

The song was alluded to in the so-called "Sinatra Doctrine", a policy by Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union allowing neighboring Warsaw Pact states to determine their own internal affairs—the Soviet Union was allowing these states to go their own way.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Jacques Revaux, l'homme derrière "Comme d'habitude/My Way"". La Croix (in French). November 13, 2019. ISSN 0242-6056. Archived from the original on November 13, 2019. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Regrets I've had a few, says 'My Way' songwriter". France 24. November 13, 2019. Archived from the original on November 13, 2019. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  3. ^ "Once upon a song | The story of 'Comme d'habitude', which became the international hit 'My Way'". What The France. June 11, 2020. Archived from the original on August 28, 2021. Retrieved August 28, 2021.
  4. ^ "TOP – 3 février 1968". www.top-france.fr. Archived from the original on August 28, 2021. Retrieved August 28, 2021.
  5. ^ "How Sinatra did it My Way – via a French pop star and a Canadian lounge act". the Guardian. July 5, 2007. Archived from the original on January 22, 2008. Retrieved May 12, 2008.
  6. ^ 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. Archived from the original on July 24, 2019. Retrieved November 8, 2016.
  7. ^ Paul Anka, "With Paul Anka, 'Rock Swings', Part Two" Archived July 1, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, interviewed on Fresh Air, WHYY, August 10, 2005
  8. ^ The rights holders including Jacques Revaux and Claude François' heirs sold it to Xavier Niel in 2009
  9. ^ "Classic Songs, My Way — Paul Anka". Last.fm. Archived from the original on April 6, 2017. Retrieved April 22, 2021.
  10. ^ Forever_Gentlemen
  11. ^ "The Cowsills – Magazines". Bapresley.com. Archived from the original on February 10, 2021. Retrieved April 22, 2021.
  12. ^ "Record-Breakers and Trivia". Everyhit.com. Archived from the original on October 22, 2018. Retrieved April 22, 2021.
  13. ^ "Sinatra 'loathed' My Way". BBC. October 30, 2000. Archived from the original on January 20, 2021. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  14. ^ "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. July 17, 2013. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved January 21, 2016.
  15. ^ "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. July 17, 2013. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved January 21, 2017.
  16. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – My Way". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  17. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  18. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  19. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles – 1969". tropicalglen.com. Archived from the original on January 25, 2019. Retrieved July 14, 2019.
  20. ^ "Archívum – Slágerlisták – MAHASZ" (in Hungarian). Single (track) Top 40 lista. Magyar Hanglemezkiadók Szövetsége. Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  21. ^ "Italian single certifications – Frank Sinatra – My Way" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved June 25, 2013. Select "2013" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "My Way" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli" under "Sezione".
  22. ^ Copsey, Rob (September 19, 2017). "The UK's Official Chart 'millionaires' revealed". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on September 19, 2017. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  23. ^ "British single certifications – Frank Sinatra – My Way". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved June 25, 2013.Select singles in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type My Way in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  24. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Elvis Presley – My Way". Music Canada.
  25. ^ "British single certifications – Elvis Presley – My Way". British Phonographic Industry.Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type My Way in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  26. ^ "American single certifications – Elvis Presley – My Way". Recording Industry Association of America.
  27. ^ ""My Way" By Sid Vicious Is On Leonard Cohen's Jukebox". AllanShowalter.com. Archived from the original on July 14, 2021. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  28. ^ Grierson, Tim; Adams, Sam; Fear, Dave; Garber-Paul, Elisabeth (August 9, 2016). "25 best punk rock movies of all time". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on November 11, 2020. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  29. ^ McKenzie, Jamie (December 10, 2019). "Watch the heartwarming moment elderly woman with dementia at Edinburgh care home sings Frank Sinatra song at Christmas party". The Scotsman. Archived from the original on December 11, 2019. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  30. ^ Mahamood, Basit (January 21, 2020). "Care home resident with dementia releases charity single". The Scotsman. Archived from the original on January 22, 2020. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  31. ^ McKenzie, Jamie (January 17, 2020). "Edinburgh woman, 83, with dementia reaches No.7 in iTunes charts with charity single duet of Frank Sinatra's My Way". Edinburgh News. Archived from the original on January 18, 2020. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  32. ^ Cook, Richard (December 10, 2014). "Frank Sinatra: Songs for Young Lovers and other Capitol reissues". Theguardian.com. Archived from the original on March 6, 2019. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  33. ^ My Way tops funeral charts Archived February 10, 2008, at the Wayback Machine – An article in The Guardian
  34. ^ "Funeral Music Chart". coop.co.uk. Archived from the original on July 19, 2020. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  35. ^ Utton, Dominic (March 28, 2009). "My Way: The story behind the song". Daily Express. London: Northern and Shell Media Publications. Archived from the original on October 17, 2009. 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".'
  36. ^ Onishi, Norimitsu (February 6, 2010). "Sinatra Song Often Strikes Deadly Chord". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 9, 2010. 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 links[edit]