♫ My Way ♫ … Annnnnnnd …

Okay, so … on Monday, I was taken to task for failing to commemorate the 69th birthday of one of my faves, Stevie Wonder.  It was subtly suggested, by our dear friend Ellen, that I might be forgiven if I played a nice Happy Birthday tribute a day late.  Which is what I did … a lovely tribute to Mr. Wonder, if I say so myself.  And Ellen did commend me, but at the same time noted rather pointedly that I managed to miss the 21st anniversary of the death of Frank Sinatra!  Oy Vey!  I am naught but a feeble-minded old woman and can barely remember that my name is … um … well, that’s not important now.

Ellen correctly noted that I have never played a Sinatra song here, and the reason is that I thought perhaps he wouldn’t have a mass appeal, though I grew up on Sinatra and like his voice and much of his music just fine.  At any rate, the suggestion was to play his iconic song, My Way, as a tribute to Ol’ Blue Eyes.  I debated, for I was rather more inclined to play New York, New York.  And finally, I threw up my hands and said “What the heck … I shall offer them both”.  Since the lyrics are on-screen with the first video, I present only the lyrics to accompany the second.

The lyrics to My Way, released by Sinatra in 1969, were written by Paul Anka and set to the music of the French song Comme d’habitude co-composed and co-written (with Jacques Revaux), and performed in 1967 by Claude François. Anka’s English lyrics are unrelated to the original French song. The song was a success for a variety of performers including Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Sid Vicious. Sinatra’s version spent 75 weeks in the UK Top 40, a record which still stands.

Paul Anka heard the original 1967 French pop song, Comme d’habitude (translation: 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. In a 2007 interview, he said, “I thought it was a shitty record, but there was something in it.” He acquired adaptation, recording, and publishing rights for the mere sum of one dollar, 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. 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.”

Anka went back to New York and re-wrote the song for Sinatra …

“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 5:00 in the morning, called Sinatra who was performing in Vegas, and the rest is history.

Frank Sinatra died on May 14, 1998, at the age of 82, after a heart attack.  The next night, the lights on the Empire State Building in New York City were turned blue, the lights at the Las Vegas Strip were dimmed in his honor, and the casinos stopped spinning for one minute.  Wow … now that’s a tribute!

New York, New York
Frank Sinatra

Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leavin’ today
I want to be a part of it
New York, New York
These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it
New York, New York

I wanna to wake up, in a city that doesn’t sleep
And find I’m king of the hill
Top of the heap

These little town blues
Are melting away
I’ll make a brand new start of it
In old New York
If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere
It’s up to you, New York, New York

New York, New York
I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps
And find I’m a number one, top of the list
King of the hill, a number one

These little town blues, are melting away
I’m gonna make a brand new start of it
In old New York
And
If I can make it there
I’m gonna make it anywhere
It’s up to you, New York
New York
New York

Songwriters: Fred Ebb / John Kander
New York, New York lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

23 thoughts on “♫ My Way ♫ … Annnnnnnd …

  1. There is good news and there is good news…but don’t get too used to this! The good news is that you have gone way beyond what I expected or what I could have hoped for and I am delighted! The other good news is that I am not going to chastise you today for any oversight on your part, even though I could. In gratitude I will refrain from doing so, unless you are foolish enough to ask. An underhanded challenge to be sure, albeit one that I am positive you would not undertake…curiosity piqued yet? But, I digress. Back to dearly departed Frank and “My Way”. I was playing this song over and over last night, singing along loudly though not completely in tune. Enter eldest daughter into the room belting out the words (in tune), until she suddenly stopped and said : “That’s not Elvis!” It is of note that Paul Anka thought this song was not right for Elvis when he first began using it. There is a certain irony in that it was recorded for the “Elvis in Concert” CBS TV special two months before his death and aired posthumously. Thank-you!

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    • Well, first of all, I must thank you for the compliment on this post! I debated whether to take the bait you so smoothly slipped in here, and … well, I’ve often thought of myself as a fool, so … SIGH … yes, my curiosity is piqued and YES, I am foolish enough to ask … what, dear Ellen, did I miss that I must now atone for? Note that whatever it is will have to wait an extra day, for Thursday’s song is already done and on the schedule as I write this. All joking aside, though, yes I am curious and I DO love your gentle reminders! I still say, however, that it would be more helpful if you told me these things a day or two ahead instead of after I’ve already missed them! 🙂 Not being much of an Elvis fan, as I have previously noted, I would have to agree with Paul that this song is better suited to Sinatra than Elvis. And now … I believe you have something of note to tell me?????

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      • Keep in mind…YOU asked! It is a well known fact, stated on more than one occasion, that you are generally not a fan of country music. In truth, I’m not either and will not list those that I do like/love. One that I found interesting, along with her third well-known husband, is June Carter Cash. The love story of June and Johnny has been explored from every side and angle…both were married when they met in the 50’s, both divorcing and soon marrying in 1968 after his proposal to her during a live performance in Canada. I will also not list the numerous books and autobiographies that I have read about them. In order to keep this to the point and at a minimum, if at all possible, I will tell you about two things. First, June Carter Cash died on May 15, 2003 and was followed by Johnny in September of the same year. Second, the song that I have always loved is “Ring of Fire”. According to them, it was written by June in 1962 as a love song to him having been inspired by a line of Elizabethan poetry. There was a co-writer, but I forget his name, and she first gave it to a sister to record. It wasn’t a hit and Johnny wanted to record it his way and the result was a hit. Side note…his ex-wife co-authored a tell all book in the 2000’s that contradicts that story, but to me it didn’t hold much water and it was rather sordid. I have heard June sing her song accompanied by her harpsichord, but Johnny’s is the best and the perfect tribute to his lady. Thank-you!

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        • Oh, bother! In my unsuccessful attempt at brevity, I failed to add the most important element regarding my history with this song. Johnny Cash and this song in particular were favorites of a very special person in my life during the 60’s. I can still hear him singing this song to me…that is why I loved it! Thank-you!

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        • Hoo-boy … I just HAD to ask, didn’t I? 😉 Now, admittedly when I first read this comment and first saw “Johnny Cash”, I started shaking my head “no no no, thrice no!” But, as I read on, I began to think, “Well, okay … maybe”. But it was your next comment, your addendum, that got me, and so, I will play this one, but … it will have to be on Saturday if that is okay, for Larry reminded me that I promised him a certain song a week or two ago, so I must play that one tonight/tomorrow. 😊

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  2. I loved Dino, and Sammy, and Peter, but Frank, Joey and hanger on Paul never appealed to me. I used to do an imitation of Martin, but seeing as I couldn’t sing my act fell flat. A flat Dean Martin. But I loved it.

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