Frank Sinatra’s signature song My Way began life as European hit Comme d’habitude (As Usual), a 1967 break-up song by French superstar Claude François, to music by Jacques Revaux. Canadian singer-songwriter Paul Anka heard the song while holidaying in Paris and acquired its rights. A few months on he had dinner with Sinatra in Florida. The music legend, then in his early fifties, announced that he was considering retirement, reportedly telling Anka: "I’m quitting the business. I’m sick of it, I’m getting the hell out.” This inspired Anka to stay up all night adapting François’ track about the death of love through routine into a celebratory swan song for Sinatra. He did so by asking himself, “If Frank were writing this, what would he say?”. The result was recorded by Sinatra in just one take on 30 December 1968.

In fact, a different English version of the song already existed. Revaux had sent his melody to London, looking for someone to adapt it into an English-language song. A young David Bowie wrote and recorded a demo, but it was rejected.

In My Way, Sinatra looks back on his life and all its ups and downs. He declares pride in taking responsibility for all the decisions that he has made. My Way has spent more time on the UK charts than any other song (124 weeks), and Elvis Presley’s live recording of the song was released in the weeks after his death. Other cover versions include those by Aretha Franklin and by Sid Vicious of The Sex Pistols. Donald Trump chose My Way as his first dance at his 2017 presidential inauguration, and it is also extremely popular at funerals. Despite its phenomenal success, Sinatra disliked the song, calling it “self-serving and self-indulgent”. 

My Way

And now, the end is near

And so I face the final curtain

My friend, I’ll say it clear

I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain

I’ve lived a life that’s full

I travelled each and every highway

And more, much more than this

I did it my way

Regrets, I’ve had a few

But then again, too few to mention

I did what I had to do

And saw it through without exemption

I planned each charted course

Each careful step along the byway

And more, much more than this

I did it my way

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew

When I bit off more than I could chew

But through it all, when there was doubt

I ate it up and spit it out

I faced it all, and I stood tall

And did it my way

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried

I’ve had my fill, my share of losing

And now, as tears subside

I find it all so amusing

To think I did all that

And may I say, not in a shy way

Oh, no, oh, no, not me

I did it my way

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

Yes, it was my way