The legendary songwriter relates the unusual origins of one of the most performed songs of all time.
The man wrote “ My Way. ” For that and that alone, Paul Anka deserves an entire floor in the Tower of Song. not only is it one of the most recorded and spill the beans songs of all time, recorded by everyone from Sammy Davis, Jr. to Syd Vicious, it was the signature song for the man many consider the greatest singer ever, Frank Sinatra.
In fact, Anka co-wrote the song, as related in the pursue report, to a minor french pop strike for Claude François about a fail marriage, written by Jacques Revaux .
Paul Anka besides wrote the “ Tonight Show ” theme, used during the Johnny Carson reign, not to mention countless hits he recorded himself, from early on rock & roll hits “ Diana ” and “ Lonely Boy ” in 1958 through “ You ’ re Having My Baby ” in 1974. But no song meant more to him than “ My Way, ” nor any singer ampere much as Sinatra .
Written in the incendiary year of 1968, the birdcall reflected the paradigm shift the global was undergo, as signalled by the evolution in pop music from the songs of Sinatra to rock & roll. It was the get down of a raw earned run average, and Sinatra belonged identical much to the previous one. He told Anka that rock & roll made him feel irrelevant, and felt it was prison term to call it quits.
Anka loved Sinatra, and had deep reverence for all the capital songwriters who wrote the songs Frank whistle. No news program hit him harder than this. It led him, ultimately, to create this iconic song, as related in his own words :
PAUL ANKA: I vacationed a set in France and spent a lot of time over there. Took my family over there, married my wife there. I was very into that setting, and I know everybody. I like the diverseness and the poise of it.
I heard this song on the radio, a average hit by a french singer which was called “ Comme vitamin d ’ habitude. ” *The title means “ As Usual. ” It ’ s about a couple in a very bore marriage, a kinship which is, “ as usual. ” They get up every day and “ the spirit of your breath, I love it… ” Very graphic french sung.
So I heard it but I knew there was more in it, because it wasn ’ t a huge hit I knew the publishers up in Paris. You got to remember, this was ’ 66 – and I called them up to see if I could get this song. I mean, we weren ’ thymine buying the pyramids here. It was done in 30 minutes [ with french accent ] “ Yeah, here, take it. ”
It was a two-page contract. I had a vision they were indifferent about it in France, which wasn ’ t a boastfully market. thus I brought it back. I was good keeping it in the drawer. I ’ vitamin d bid it on the piano. I didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate refer to the french criminal record at all lyrically.
So all through this, I knew Sinatra. You know, he hated pop music music. He hated Presley and The Beatles. Never got it. He didn ’ triiodothyronine understand it. He was from the real pure world, erstwhile standard American classical. He wanted to be with it, but he couldn ’ triiodothyronine. He tried. And then he married Mia [ Farrow ]. But he never got it. He would sit there and say, “ What is this shit ? ”
so Sinatra is teasing the hell out of me, saying, “ When are you going to write me a song ? ” Which I knew wasn ’ triiodothyronine going to happen. Why ? because I felt I didn ’ t have the capability. All through those early years I did not feel cook.
You have to remember as you are growing and maturing and working at your craft, that ’ s not overnight. There is a certain kind of song that you write for your long time and your reason. It comes from learning your craft and mature as a person I never would have written the sung when I was younger. I wasn ’ metric ton capable. But Sinatra was always talking about aging. He hated getting old. He hated old long time. And the birdcall is about being old. You ’ re honest-to-god, you ’ re vintage.
But it bugged me that I couldn ’ t write him a song. Because I loved him and adored him, like all of us did. So I decided that one day I was going to do it.
The long and the short of it is that I was down in Miami. Frank was doing a movie. I go to dinner with him, and he said, “ I ’ thousand quitting. ” Kennedy was all over. Bobby Kennedy was gone. The Rat Pack was waning. He said, “ I ’ molarity drop out. I ’ thousand getting out of here. ”
That very motivated me. So when I went back to New York, sitting there at one in the morning, thinking this is for very.
Paul Anka and Frank Sinatra. so I called [ Sinatra arranger ] Don Costa, and said, “ The guy ’ s done. He ’ sulfur drop out. ”
And I started at one in the dawn at the typewriter-piano. I wrote it as if Sinatra were writing it. I used a set of his language.
I started metaphorically : “ And nowadays, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain. ”
I wrote it good for him and put the demonstration together, brought it to him.
Two months belated, he calls me. He ’ mho in L.A. I ’ m in New York. I put the call on the speaker. He said, “ Paulie ? You did it. This is the one. ”
That was it for me. I started to cry. Iit was a turn point in my life. flush though I ’ five hundred been nominated for an Academy Award when I was a child for The Longest Day, evening though the “ Tonight Show ” root [ which Anka composed ] was cooking every night, for me to get a Sinatra record, and on a song like that, which I knew was the most different song I ’ ve ever written, was a massive sidereal day in my life.
So it shows you about songwriting : when you know your craft, when you ’ re a writer, there is no old age barrier. When you ’ re the singer performing the song, there is. RCA was upset at the time that I gave it away. I said, “ Hey, I ’ thousand young enough to write it but I ’ m not erstwhile adequate to sing it ! It belongs to Sinatra. He ’ s the guy who ’ sulfur going to get it out there. That ’ s his birdcall. ”
Sometimes you check your ego at the door. And I would never, ever, ever try again.
It became Sinatra ’ south signature birdcall. And then he came back, and said, “ You know what ? I ’ thousand going to try again. ”
Sinatra recorded the song in one remove, and it was released in 1969 and became a shoot. Though it never went to number one on the charts, it remained in the exceed 40 for an unprecedented 75 weeks, all the room from April of 1969 through September of 1971, a noteworthy pop phenomenon at that clock by a singer who preceded rock candy & roll.
Excerpted from “More Songwriters On Songwriting,” by Paul Zollo, Da Capo Press.
Sinatra’s “My Way.”
Paul Anka performs the song with the voice of “Old Blue Eyes.”