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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.
The "Lowdown" and "Lido Shuffle" singer makes a habit of playing with the best in the business.
The "How Country Feels" singer talks Skynyrd and songwriting.
Richard explains how Joe Walsh kickstarted his career, and why he chose Hazard, Nebraska for a hit.