My Way (song)


My Way (song)
"My Way"
Song by Frank Sinatra from the album My Way
Released 1969
Recorded December 30, 1968, Los Angeles
Genre Traditional pop
Length 4:35
Label Reprise
Writer Paul Anka
Composer Claude François, Jacques Revaux
Producer Sonny Burke
My Way track listing
"All My Tomorrows"
(5)
"My Way"
(6)
"A Day in the Life of a Fool"
(7)

"My Way" is a song popularized by Frank Sinatra. Its lyrics were written by Paul Anka and set to music based on the French song "Comme d'habitude" composed in 1967 by Claude François and Jacques Revaux, with lyrics by Claude François and Gilles Thibault. Anka's English lyrics are unrelated to the original French song. "My Way" is often quoted as the most covered song in history.

Contents

Themes

The lyrics of "My Way" tells the story of a man who is nearly dead. He is comfortable with it and takes responsibility for how he dealt with all the twists of his life while maintaining a respectable degree of integrity.

Origin

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.[1] In a 2007 interview, he said: "I thought it was a bad record, but there was something in it."[2] He acquired publishing rights at no cost[3] except the melody's rights kept by the authors,[4] and, two years later, had a dinner in Florida with Frank Sinatra and "a couple of Mob guys" at which Sinatra said: "I'm quitting the business. I'm sick of it, I'm getting the hell out."[2]

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 5am. "I called Frank up in Nevada - he was at Caesar's Palace - and said, 'I've got something really special for you.'"[2] Anka claimed: "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."[2] Despite this, Anka would later record the song in 1969 (very shortly after Sinatra's recording was released), in 1996 (as a duet with Gabriel Byrne, performed in the movie Mad Dog Time), and in 2007 (as a duet with Jon Bon Jovi).[5]

Frank Sinatra recorded his version of the song on December 30, 1968, and it was released in early 1969 on the album of the same name and as a single. It reached #27 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #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 #5 slot achieved upon its first chart run.[6]

Versions

Dorothy Squires version

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 10 on the UK Singles Chart and re-entered the chart twice more during that year.

Elvis Presley version

Elvis Presley began performing the song in concert during the mid-1970s, in spite of suggestions by Paul Anka, who told him it was not a song that would suit him. Nevertheless, on January 12 and 14 of 1973 Presley sang the song during his satellite show "Aloha from Hawaii", beamed live and on deferred basis (for European audiences, who also saw it in prime time), to 43 countries via Intelsat, the only time that a single entertainer faced such a worldwide audience. In the continental US, the show was carried by NBC, and shown in primetime on April 14, thus achieving very high ratings and eventually helping the show reach a worldwide viewership of over 1 billion.

On October 3, 1977, several weeks after his 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 (higher than Frank Sinatra's peak position), number 6 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and went Gold for its successful sales of over half 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.

Sid Vicious version

Sex Pistols' bassist Sid Vicious did a punk rock version of the song. This version, in which a large body of the words were changed and the arrangement was sped up, charted at #7 in the UK in 1978. 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."[2]

Vicious did not know all the lyrics to the song when it was recorded, so he improvised several lyrics. Vicious' reference to a "prat who wears hats" was an in-joke directed towards Vicious' friend John Lydon, who was fond of wearing different kinds of hats he would pick up at rummage sales.

An edited version of the Sid Vicious cover is played during the closing credits of the movie Goodfellas.

In her album The End, released in conjunction with the film Nana 2, singer and actress Mika Nakashima performs a cover of Sid Vicious' version of the song with what sounds like an audience singing background vocals.

In the film The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle the original footage for the track shows Sid Vicious at the end taking out a hand gun and opening fire on the audience, we see two members graphically shot and slumping dead into their seats. Sid then sneers, throws the gun away, and flicks the V's at the audience and ascends the stair case he walked down to the stage from. For the music video version, director Julien Temple removed the original footage featuring actors playing the audience and the final graphic violence and replaced a few of the audience cutaways with stock footage of a theatre audience from the 1950s (he also drowned out Sid's use of the F-word in the third verse with audience applause). Although the censored version was still controversial, it merely showed Sid wildly shooting a gun towards the crowd. All of the footage of the bullet impacts and corpses were removed. The music video was recreated for director Alex Cox's film Sid and Nancy, with the final person Sid (Gary Oldman) shoots being girlfriend Nancy Spungen (Chloe Webb), eerily foreshadowing her eventual murder at Sid's hands. However, in the film, she gets up and the two embrace as the stage lights are turned off.

Other versions

Nina Simone had success with her re-arranged version of the song, released on 1971's Here Comes the Sun, which was more upbeat and melodic, and included a syncopated rhythm highlighted by the addition of conga drums. It became a staple of her live concerts.

Brook Benton hit the pop, R&B, and easy listening charts with a recording of the song in 1970.

Shirley Bassey recorded the song for her 1970 album Something. She also performed it live on numerous occasions notably the 1976 Royal Variety Performance. In the weeks following Sinatra's death in 1998, Bassey sang it as a tribute to him on her "Diamond" concert tour.

The leading gorilla, Ape, in 1997's George of the Jungle performs the song at the movie's conclusion.

The Romanian rock singer Dida Drăgan recorded this song in 1977, with Romanian lyrics, accompanied by National Radio-Television Pop Orchestra, conducted by Sile Dinicu.

Gonzo the Great performed the song in a 1980 episode of The Muppet Show. He sings this song before leaving the show to pursue a movie career in Bombay.

Nina Hagen released a version of "My Way" as a single in 1980. It contained "My Way" (4:25), "Alptraum" (4:06) and "No Way" (1:05).

Greta Keller always included the song during her last decade of performing and did a duet with Rod McKuen singing the song at Lincoln Center in New York City and in Vienna.

Gipsy Kings, a group which popularized the Rumba Flamenca, covered the song using the traditional gipsy sound. Their version is entitled "A Mi Manera (Comme D'habitude)", though most fail to recognize that this is a cover due the lyrics being sung in Spanish

U2 regularly performed a snippet of "My Way" at the end of their song "Ultraviolet (Light My Way)" during their 1992–1993 Zoo TV Tour.

Patti LuPone performs this song as part of her one-woman show Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda.

One of Argentina's top rock performers, Andres Calamaro released "My Way" in an interesting reggae version in his Las otras caras de Alta Suciedad album.

Runner up Raymond Quinn from the UK TV series X Factor covered "My Way" for his album Doing It My Way.

Bobby Solo does a recording of the song in Italian called "La Mia Strada". Another Italian version "La Mia Via" lyrics by Andrea Lo Vecchio was recorded by Fred Bongusto in 1975.

Popular Ukrainian rock band Okean Elzy performed the song (the only one of the set in English) during their symphony-accompanied renaissance tour.

A black metal version of the song has been performed by the French band Mütiilation on the album From the Entrails to the Dirt.

Robbie Williams sang My Way in his concert at the Royal Albert Hall on October 10, 2001. This version of the song was recorded and released in the DVD Live At The Albert.

The symphonic metal group Northern Kings covered this song in their latest album, Rethroned, released November 19, 2008.

The German Euro Disco artist Fancy covered the song on his 2008 album Forever Magic.

British satirical show Spitting Image, who frequently ended each episode with a musical number, rounded off a season with a puppet of Margaret Thatcher singing the song word-for-word.

The Pogues' Shane MacGowan recorded a punk cover of the song, reaching #29 on the UK singles chart. His version was used for a Nike commercial.

Japanese pop singer Mika Nakashima covered the song on her 2006 album The End. The song, like the whole of The End album is credited as Nana starring Mika Nakashima.

Patti Austin covered the song on her 2011 album Sound Advice.

Jacky Cheung performed the song at the 30th Hong Kong Film Awards, on April 17, 2011.

Vicente Fernández Spanish version titled "A Mi Manera".

TMZ founder and People's Court legal analyst Harvey Levin covered the song with Anka in 2011.

Dutch singer and painter Herman Brood covered the song. It was part of his posthumous greatest hits album "My Way" (2001). The title song was released on single and became his first #1 single in the Dutch top 40.

University of Massachusetts Minuteman Marching Band traditionally covers this song at every post-game show. They also sing it at non-performance events as a way of ending their meetings. In 2010, when their band director George N. Parks died during a band trip in Michigan, every time they covered this song that year, they did it to commemorate him.

On September 13, 2011, Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. performed the song during the finals of the sixth season of the NBC reality television series America's Got Talent. The following evening he was crowned the winner, and was awarded the show's $1 million grand prize.[7]

R. Kelly covered the song on his Love Letter album tour in 2011.

The Japanese rockband Kishidan has covered the song in concerts, and will release a recorded version in December 2011.

In culture

References

  1. ^ How Sinatra did it My Way - via a French pop star and a Canadian lounge act
  2. ^ a b c d e McCormick, Neil (2007-11-08). "Daily Telegraph interview, 8 November 2007". The Daily Telegraph (London). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2007/11/08/bmanka108.xml. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  3. ^ Paul Anka, "With Paul Anka, 'Rock Swings', Part Two", interviewed on Fresh Air, WHYY, 10 August 2005
  4. ^ The rights holders including Jacques Revaux and Claude François' heirs sold it to Xavier Niel in 2009
  5. ^ http://www.last.fm/music/Paul+Anka/Classic+Songs%2C+My+Way
  6. ^ http://www.everyhit.com/record6.html
  7. ^ Macht, Daniel. "Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. Wins "America's Got Talent"". NBCDFW.com. http://www.nbcdfw.com/entertainment/television/Landau-Eugene-Murphy-Jr-Wins-Americas-Got-Talent--129851198.html. Retrieved 15 September 2011. 
  8. ^ My Way tops funeral charts - An article in The Guardian
  9. ^ Utton, Dominic (28 March 2009). "My Way: The story behind the song". Daily Express. London: Northern and Shell Media Publications. http://www.dailyexpress.co.uk/posts/view/91687. Retrieved 11 July 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".'" 
  10. ^ Onishi, Norimitsu (6 February 2010). "Sinatra Song Often Strikes Deadly Chord". New York Times (New York: New York Times). http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/07/world/asia/07karaoke.html. Retrieved 9 February 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.'" 
Preceded by
"Take This Job and Shove It"
by Johnny Paycheck
RPM Country Tracks
number-one single (Elvis Presley version)

January 21–28, 1978
Succeeded by
"What a Difference You've Made in My Life"
by Ronnie Milsap

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