This originated as the 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 out 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 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 six times between 1970-1971. It holds the record for the longest stay on the chart.
After dominating the American popular music charts in the '40s and early '50, Sinatra had some down years in the rock era, but still managed a few huge hits, with "Learnin' The Blues" (1955) and "Strangers in the Night" (1966) each going to #1 on the Hot 100.
"My Way" became one of his more popular songs, but it had a very pedestrian placing on this chart, making just #27, which was lower than his previous Top 40 single, "Cycles" (#23 in 1968). "My Way," however, had tremendous staying power and became a concert showstopper. It was also Sinatra's last Top 40 hit in the US until 1980, when he returned with "New York, New York."
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 Welsh 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 (lead singer Johnny Rotten had left the band). 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.
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.
According to Paul Anka, he wrote the English version of this song after having dinner with Frank Sinatra, who told his dinner companions that he was quitting the business (Anka was playing many of the same nightclubs, which is how he ended up in Sinatra's circle). In an effort to write Sinatra a hit, he composed this song specifically for Frank, writing a lyric with lines filled with things he figured the singer would say, playing up his tough guy image with phrases like "I ate it up and spit it out" and "I'll state my case, of which I'm certain."
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.
"My Way" is licensed sparingly, especially the Sinatra version. It was used in the 2006 episode of The Sopranos titled "Moe n' Joe," and also in a 2014 episode of Mad Men called "The Strategy." The Mad Men episode takes place around the time the song was released and plays a specific role in the plot, with Don Draper hearing the song, which is playing on the radio, as some kind of sign to Peggy Olsen.
The Sex Pistols version has been used in some high-profile productions as well: it was used in episodes of The Simpsons (2010) and Californication (2014), and in the movie Goodfellas (1990).
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.
Paul Anka recorded a version of this shortly after Sinatra's release. He also recorded it as a duet four different times - with Gabriel Byrne for the movie Mad Dog Time (1996), with Julio Iglesias as the Spanish rendition "a Mi Manera" (1998), with Jon Bon Jovi (2007), and with the Canadian singer Garou (2013).
Because this song is so strongly associated with Sinatra, many people assume the singer wrote it. In a Songfacts interview, Frank Sinatra Enterprises Vice President Charles Pignone chalks this up to his artistry. "A lot of people, because Frank was so convincing in what he sang, thought he had his hand in writing a lot of these songs," he says.
On Sinatra's distaste for the song, Pigone adds: "I don't think he hated it as much as he disliked it - I don't think he hated any of these songs. I just think he probably may have gotten tired of people yelling for it and singing of it. It's a fan favorite, but I wouldn't say it was a Sinatra favorite."
Lou Levy took over as pianist for this song when Sinatra regular Bill Miller cut his hand on a shard of glass. Miller did, however, conduct the orchestra for the recording.
Donald Trump's first dance as president of the United States was to this song. On January 20, 2017, the night of his inauguration, he danced to it with his wife Melania at the Liberty ball, his second of the evening. Trump was never seen dancing on the campaign trail, with good reason: he is very awkward on the dance floor. Despite sticking to a basic side-to-side shuffle, he still managed to look pained, as did Melania. Midway through the dance, he called his vice president, Mike Pence, to join him with his wife, Karen. At this point, Trump did more waving and gesturing than dancing.
Two days earlier, Nancy Sinatra was asked on Twitter what she thought of Trump using the song. Her reply: "Just remember the first line of the song."
That first line is: "And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain."
Addidas used a remix of this song in a 2017 commercial called "Original is Never Finished."
Adrian Chan from MalaysiaIt is the personal favorite or the theme song of former Malaysian prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohammad.
Budoshi from Sandnessjøen, NorwayFrank Sinatra's staple song....
Ken from Pittsburgh, PaI 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!!"
Mark from Worcester, MiHector I think the meaning can be whatever you're feeling. Even somewhat straight verse takes many meanings IMO. Depends where you're at.
Hector from Montreal, QcGuys 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! :)
Eric from Camas, WaBad Karaoke bar performances of this song have resulted in the murder of its singers in southeast Asian and polynesian countries.
Ken from Louisville, KyBritish funeral directors said this was the song most requested by men to be played at their funerals.
Frankie from Richmond, InWhen Bobby Knight broke the NCAA Men's Basketball wins record, during his speech they played this song. It was incredible.
Sara from Silver Spring, Mdit wasn't after Elvis' "death" he just left the building and quit singing... Yeah thank you very much.
John from Dundee, United KingdomDavid Bowie used the chords from theoriginal French Song as the basis of "Life On Mars"
Ken from Louisville, KyIn 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.
Syn from California City, CaDid 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.
Arsenio from San Antonio, TxI 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.
Sara from Silver Spring, MdI 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!
Guy from Woodinville, WaIt'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.