For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way
If a man is not living as a man, why he is living? If he does not act or live in the moment, who is he existing for? If a man can’t take a punch and get right back up, until he no longer can, how can he call himself a man?
I will instruct my next of kin to play this song at my funeral. I want people to be reminded that I lived life in the way I saw fit, and endured what was thrown my way. By doing so, I hope that my end will be a bit easier to bear compared to a life that was full of regret and things left unsaid. — “My Way” Is The Most Masculine Song Ever Created
Background: 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. 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 nominal, but formal, consideration 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.”
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 5 in the morning. “I called Frank up in Nevada â he was at Caesar’s Palace â and said, ‘I’ve got something really special for you.'” 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.” Despite this, Anka would later record the song in 1969 (very shortly after Sinatra’s recording was released). Anka recorded it four other times as well: in 1996 (as a duet with Gabriel Byrne, performed in the movie Mad Dog Time), in 1998 in Spanish as “A Mi Manera” (duet with Julio Iglesias), in 2007 (as a duet with Jon Bon Jovi) and in 2013 (as a duet with Garou).
A few hours before going to celebrate New Year’s Eve at the Casino SANDS, Frank Sinatra recorded his version of the song on December 30, 1968, which was released in early 1969 on the “My Way” LP and as a single. It reached No. 27 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and No. 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 No. 5 slot achieved upon its first chart run.
Although this work became Frank Sinatra’s signature song, his daughter Tina says the legendary singer came to hate the song. “He didn’t like it. That song stuck and he couldn’t get it off his shoe. He always thought that song was self-serving and self-indulgent.” – Wikipedia