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My Way

Song: My Way

Songwriters: Claude François and Jacques Revaux (music); Paul Anka (lyrics).
Original French lyrics (Comme d'Habitude) by Claude François and Gilles Thibault.

Singer: Frank Sinatra

When my son was being born, there was piped music in the labour ward. I thought this was a great idea, until the thought struck me, to my horror, that my first-born might come into to the world to the strains of D.I.S.C.O. or The Birdie Song. I was heartily relieved when, just as the big moment was about to arrive, the air filled with The Voice singing the unforgettable opening lines

And now, the end is near
And so I face final curtain.

It didn't occur to me, of course, that My Way is better suited to life's Departures lounge than Arrivals, but at least My Way is a big song, a true heavyweight.

The lyrics to My Way we tailor-made for Frank Sinatra by Paul Anka. The song was originally written in French as Comme d'Habitude, but My Way is a re-write, rather than a translation. (Comme d'Habitude is a song about lovers whose relationship has gone off the boil, but who go through the motions “as usual”.)

My Way is a song of defiance, and one which will inevitably be remembered in connection with the allegations of mafia connections to Sinatra. There is more than a little venom in such lines as

I ate it up
And spit it out

My Way is written in the form AABAB. The “A” sections open with a repeated rising sixth figure over a chromatically descending bass. The rhythm of this figure is used consistently throughout the song with only slight modifications. The melody of the verses rises to a high point near the start of the second half, before falling away again. The “B” sections start off in a similar fashion to the second half of the “A” sections, but rather than falling, continue to rise in pitch and intensity until the final climactic lines:

The record shows
I took the blows
And did it my way.


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