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My Way


Frank Sinatra

Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This originated as French song called "Comme D'Habitude" (translation: "As Usual") written by the composers Jacques Revaux and Gilles Thibault. They took it to the French Pop star Claude Francois, who tweaked it a bit (earning a co-writer credit) and recorded the song in 1967, where it was a hit in parts of Europe. The French version tells the story of a man, living the end of his marriage, love killed by the boredom of everyday life.

Paul Anka discovered this song while visiting France, and re-wrote the lyrics as "My Way" when he returned to New York. Anka says it was 3 a.m. on a rainy night when the words came to him. Anka, who was a very popular singer, pitched the song to Frank Sinatra, who recorded it on December 30, 1968. Anka's lyrics changed the meaning to be about a man looking back fondly on a life he lived on his own terms, and Sinatra's version became one of his signature songs.
This became Frank Sinatra's signature song, but he couldn't stand it, saying he "loathed" the song. In his later years, he described the song as "a Paul Anka pop hit which became a kind of national anthem." In a 2000 interview with the BBC show Hardtalk, Sinatra's daughter Tina said, "He always thought that song was self-serving and self-indulgent. He didn't like it. That song stuck and he couldn't get it off his shoe."
A song of individuality and aspiration, there is a scientific explanation for why it has triggered such a strong emotional reaction despite the rather pedestrian lyrics and silly rhymes (losing/amusing, curtain/certain). The song starts with a rising 6th progression, which indicates striving. It builds in intensity and powers to a big finish, which Sinatra could really sell with his declaration, "I did it my way."
In America, this was a concert showstopper, but merely a modest hit on the charts, as it didn't jibe with the spirit of 1969. In the UK, however, it was a runaway hit, re-entering the charts 6 times between 1970-1971. It holds the record for the longest stay on the chart.
Sinatra probably did not have in mind the red velvet drapes of a crematorium when he sang about facing his final curtain. However, in 2005 a survey by Co-Operative Funeralcare put this tune at the top of songs most requested at funerals in the UK. Spokesman Phil Edwards said: "It has that timeless appeal – the words sum up what so many people feel about their lives and how they would like their loved ones to remember them."
Some of the many artists to record this song include Aretha Franklin, Tom Jones, Dionne Warwick, and Andy Williams. The Welch singer Dorothy Squires released a version shortly after Sinatra that was also a hit in the UK and re-entered the chart there twice.
Toward the end of his career, Elvis added this to his concert repertoire. After his death in 1977, a live version was released as a single, going to #22 in the US and #9 in the UK.
The Sex Pistols recorded a Punk version in 1979 with their bass player Sid Vicious on lead vocals. Their version went to #6 in the UK and was used over the closing credits of the movie Goodfellas. The song appeared on the Sex Pistols' album The Great Rock 'N' Roll Swindle. Sid Vicious died before the album was released.

Anton La Vey, founder of the Church of Satan, complimented Sid Vicious' cover of the song in his biography The Secret Life of a Satanist. (thanks, Diane - Ventura, CA)
This is a very popular Karaoke song, but one you should probably avoid in The Philippines. As detailed in a February 6, 2010 article in the New York Times, many violent incidents have taken place following Karaoke performances of "My Way." Karaoke is very popular in that country, and there is a certain etiquette which tends to break down when patrons choose this song, sometimes resulting in fights that can escalate quickly. The bravado of the song may have something to do with it, but whatever the cause, most Filipinos will avoid the song, and many bars don't offer it on their playlists.
Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder requested "My Way" for his final send-off (Zapfenstreich in German) prior to the inauguration of Angela Merkel. More than seven million television viewers watched tears well up in his eyes as a military band saw him off with a version of this song.
The song was a favorite of former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic. He often played it in his cell at a loud volume during his trial for crimes against humanity in 2002.
The Gipsy Kings recorded a Spanish version of the song called "A Mi Manera."
Before Paul Anka wrote the English lyrics, a young David Bowie took a shot at writing them, but couldn't come up with anything he was happy with.
Frank Sinatra
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Comments (14):

Frank Sinatra's staple song....
- Budoshi, Sandnessjøen, Norway
I hate this song, pure and simply. What does it say about a song that when the singer that popularized it does not want to perform it? It says "this song sucks!!"
- Ken, Pittsburgh, PA
Hector I think the meaning can be whatever you're feeling. Even somewhat straight verse takes many meanings IMO. Depends where you're at.
- mark, worcester, MI
Guys I got a question ;
In the part of this beautiful song where we can hear:
"When there was doubt
I ate it up
And spit it out"
Is it possible that there are two meanings for this part?
1.- I ate up the doubt and I was so strong that I could control it and just spit it out.
2.- I ate up the doubt others may have about me and by my way to succede on things I spit that doubt in their face.

Voilà! That would be the question ;)
gracias! :)
- Hector, Montreal, QC
Bad Karaoke bar performances of this song have resulted in the murder of its singers in southeast Asian and polynesian countries.
- Eric, Camas, WA
British funeral directors said this was the song most requested by men to be played at their funerals.
- Ken, Louisville, KY
When Bobby Knight broke the NCAA Men's Basketball wins record, during his speech they played this song. It was incredible.
- Frankie, Richmond, IN
it wasn't after Elvis' "death" he just left the building and quit singing... Yeah thank you very much.
- Sara, Silver Spring, MD
David Bowie used the chords from theoriginal French Song as the basis of "Life On Mars"
- John, Dundee, United Kingdom
In his 1974 concert and television "comeback" at Madison Square Garden, Sinatra knew the crowd was waiting for him to sing this song, even though he no longer wanted to. So he told the crowd "I'm singing this under protest". And then sang it.
- Ken, Louisville, KY
Did Sid Vicious ever do this song with the Sex Pistols? Though it was included on a (post) Sex Pistols album, I've always known this song to be Vicious along with Mick Jones (the Clash) on guitar and a couple of the guys from the New York Dolls, done after the Pistols broke up.
- Syn, California City, CA
I have to agree with Frank Sinatra that this song is self-serving and self-indulgent. As a musician I have had to play this stupid song behind too many bozos who think they are Frank Sinatras, and they get so serious and dramatic that it embarrasses me. Sorry, Frank, but it does seem to fit him; and I wouldn't be embarrassed if I was playing it and HE was singing it! It's not THAT bad.
- arsenio, San Antonio, TX
I heard somewhere that the French guy who wrote it was electrocuted after singing the English version. It's a shame that the song has been sung by singers towards the end of their lives or careers. There is a comic moment in the film Happy Feet where the Adelie penguin voiced by Robin Williams is singing the Spanish version and
Mumbles (Elijah Wood) the penguin who can dance but not sing is trying to fool his girlfriend
by thinking he can finally sing!
- Sara, Silver Spring, MD
It's ironic that so many people--Frank, Elvis, Paul Anka, etc.--have all recorded the same song about how unique they are. It's interesting that Frank didn't like the song, since it seems to be custom-written for his ego and history. Oh well, his delivery is one for the ages.
- Guy, Woodinville, WA
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