Thursday, 2 May 2013

No-Brainer


I once had to endure listening to a drunk at a wedding destroy that fine Sinatra standard, ‘I did it my way’. At the time this was a most unpleasant experience!

Always identified with Frank Sinatra, the song’s lyrics are about a man who has really experienced life, and even when things didn’t turn out the way he wanted, he stood his ground. No-one was going to tell him what to do. For some reason drunks, love to sing that song ! 

‘I did it my way’ was adapted by the singer Paul Anka from a French pop song, ‘Comme d 'habitude’ sung by Claude François. Anka negotiated the publishing rights to the song at no cost, and re-wrote it with Sinatra in mind, subtly altering the melodic structure and changing the lyrics. In one of many interviews given about his varied and highly successful musical career, Paul Anka described how he put the song together: 

"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'......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.”

Frank Sinatra, whose career was on the wane at the time, recorded his version of the song on December 30, 1968 for release in early 1969. It reached No. 27 on the US Hot 100 chart, but in the UK, the single achieved a still unmatched record, spending 75 weeks in the Top 40.  Since then the song has been recorded by many different artists in varied musical genres from punk to rap.

The song is apparently one of the most frequently used at funerals.  According to The SUN newspaper:  “BIGHEAD Simon Cowell plans to have the final word even when he DIES – by having Frank Sinatra’s My Way played at his funeral. The music mogul — famed for always thinking he is right — revealed his morbid choice during Britain’s Got Talent auditions in Birmingham. When a contestant sang the classic tune, sentimental Simon told fellow judges Alesha Dixon, Amanda Holden and David Walliams: “I’ve decided I’d like it to be played at my funeral. It would be appropriate.”

Interviewed by Caroline Graham for the Mail on Sunday in 2005, Paul Anka still singing at 78, is a legendary survivor in an industry that has seen its brightest stars extinguished prematurely. Talking about the self-destruction of many of his contemporaries, Anka reflected, 'Buddy Holly, Elvis, Sinatra, Marilyn - they all got to the stage where they let the fame consume them.'

As a musician “I Did It My Way” is a great song which sums up the story of all human nature, mine included.  As a Christian however, living the lyrics leads me down a bind alley.  The Book of Proverbs is clear: ‘There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death’.  

When we stop living for ourselves and allow God in to take control of our life, things immediately become different. When the Apostle Paul became a Christian he was able to say... “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  My way or God’s way ?................a ‘no brainer’ really.
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