My Way

This article is about the Frank Sinatra song. For other uses, see My Way (disambiguation).
"My Way"
Single by Frank Sinatra
from the album My Way
Released 1969
Recorded December 30, 1968, Los Angeles
Genre Traditional pop
Length 4:35
Label Reprise
Writer(s) Paul Anka
Producer(s) Sonny Burke

"My Way" is a song popularized in 1969 by Frank Sinatra. Its lyrics were written by Paul Anka and set to the music of the French song "Comme d'habitude" co-composed, co-written and performed in 1967 by Claude François. Anka's English lyrics are unrelated to the original French song. The song was a success for a variety of performers including Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and the Sex Pistols. Sinatra's version of "My Way" spent 75 weeks in the UK Top 40, a record which still stands.


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.[1] In a 2007 interview, he said, "I thought it was a shitty record, but there was something in it."[2] He acquired adaptation, recording, and publishing rights for the mere nominal or formal consideration of one dollar,[3] 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.[4] 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."[2]

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 am. "I called Frank up in Nevada – he was at Caesar's Palace – and said, 'I've got something really special for you.'"[2] 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."[2] 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) [5] and in 2013 (as duet with Garou).[6]

Frank Sinatra recorded his version of the song on December 30, 1968, and it was released in early 1969 on the album of the same name 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.[7]

Although this work became Frank Sinatra's signature song, his daughter Tina Sinatra 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."[8]


Chart (1969) Peak
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[9] 5


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Italy (FIMI)[10] Gold 25,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[11] Silver 989,000[12]

*sales figures based on certification alone


Dorothy Squires version

In the midst of Sinatra's multiple runs on the UK Singles Chart, Welsh singer Dorothy Squires also released a rendition of "My Way" in Summer 1970. Her recording reached number 25 on the UK Singles Chart and re-entered the chart twice more during that year.

Elvis Presley version

"My Way"
Single by Elvis Presley
B-side "Pledging My Love"
Released October 3, 1977
Format 7" single
Recorded June 21, 1977
Label RCA
Elvis Presley singles chronology
"Way Down"
"My Way"
"Unchained Melody"

Elvis Presley began performing the song in concert during the mid-1970s, in spite of suggestions by Paul Anka, who told him it was not a song that would suit him. Nevertheless, on January 12 and 14, 1973 Presley sang the song during his satellite show Aloha from Hawaii, beamed live and on deferred basis (for European audiences, who also saw it in prime time), to 43 countries via Intelsat.

On October 3, 1977, several weeks after Presley's death, his live recording of "My Way" (recorded for the Elvis In Concert CBS-TV special on June 21, 1977) was released as a single. In the U.S.A., it reached number 22 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart in late-1977/early-1978 (higher than Frank Sinatra's peak position), number 6 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and went Gold for its successful sales of over half a million copies. The following year the single reached number 2 on the Billboard Country singles chart but went all the way to number 1 on the rival Cash Box Country Singles chart. In the UK, it reached number 9 on the UK Singles Chart.


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[13] Platinum 150,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[14] Silver 250,000^
United States (RIAA)[15] Gold 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Sid Vicious version

"My Way"
Single by Sid Vicious
from the album The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle
Released 1978
Recorded January–August 1978
Genre Punk rock
Length 4:06
Label Virgin Records
Writer(s) Paul Anka, Sid Vicious (A few lines)
Producer(s) Sex Pistols

Sex Pistols' bassist Sid Vicious did a punk rock version of the song, in which a large body of the words were changed and the arrangement was sped up. The orchestral backing was arranged by Simon Jeffes.

Interviewed in 2007, Paul Anka said he had been "somewhat destabilized by the Sex Pistols' version. It was kind of curious, but I felt he (Sid Vicious) was sincere about it."[2]

Vicious did not know all the lyrics to the song when it was recorded, so he improvised several lyrics, including use of the swear words cunt and fuck as well as the word queer (slang for a gay man).[16] Vicious' reference to a "prat who wears hats" was an in-joke directed towards Vicious' friend and Sex Pistols band-mate Johnny Rotten, who was fond of wearing different kinds of hats he would pick up at rummage sales.

An edited version of Vicious cover (as performed by Gary Oldman, from the film Sid & Nancy) is played during the closing credits of the films Goodfellas and Juan of the Dead. A snippet of the song is also heard at the end of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Lovers Walk", as part of a running joke about vampire Spike's enjoyment of the Sex Pistols, as well as a reference to a snippet of the Frank Sinatra version that played at the beginning. It is also heard in the television commercial for the 2015 Acura TLX 2010 Au with Arashi in addition to an episode of Gotham.

In her album The End, released in conjunction with the film Nana 2, singer and actress Mika Nakashima performs a cover of Sid Vicious' version of the song with what sounds like an audience singing background vocals.

In the film The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle the original footage for the track shows Sid Vicious at the end taking out a hand gun and opening fire on the audience, hitting two of the audience members. Sid then sneers, throws the gun away, and flicks the Vs at the audience and ascends the staircase he walked down to the stage from. This was alluded to in the final shot of Goodfellas, when a flashback shows Joe Pesci's character firing directly into the camera, while Vicious' version of the song starts up. For the music video version, director Julien Temple removed the original footage featuring actors playing the audience and the final graphic violence and replaced a few of the audience cutaways with stock footage of a theatre audience from the 1950s (he also drowned out Sid's use of the F-word in the third verse with audience applause). Although the censored version was still controversial, it merely showed Sid wildly shooting a gun towards the crowd. All of the footage of the bullet impacts and corpses were removed. The music video was recreated for director Alex Cox's film Sid and Nancy, with the final person Sid (Gary Oldman) shooting girlfriend Nancy Spungen (Chloe Webb), eerily foreshadowing her alleged murder at Sid's hands. However, in the film, she gets up and the two embrace as the stage lights are turned off.

Chris Mann version

In 2012 Anka revised the lyrics of the song for Chris Mann's debut album Roads. In Mann's version the song is presented from the perspective of a young man looking to the future instead of an older man reflecting on his life.

Other versions

In 1970 British singer Samantha Jones won the music festival held in Belgian Knokke-Heist with a version of "My Way", which subsequently reached #4 on the Dutch charts.

Glen Campbell recorded the song in 1970 on his album The Glen Campbell Goodtime Album.

The Pogues' Shane MacGowan recorded a punk cover of the song, reaching No. 29 on the UK singles chart.

Dutch singer and painter Herman Brood covered the song. It was part of his posthumous greatest hits album My Way (2001). The title song was released on single and became his first No. 1 single in the Dutch top 40.

In 1968, then-unknown singer/songwriter David Bowie was asked by his music publisher to write English lyrics for the original French song. As Bowie relates on his VH1 Storytellers live album, his version, Even a Fool Learns to Love, was "rejected out of hand, quite rightly, I feel," and was never recorded. Later, he reworked the chords of the French song and turned it into Life on Mars?, a track on his 1971 album Hunky Dory, and included the note "inspired by Frankie" (referring to My Way singer Frank Sinatra) in the liner notes.[17]

In 2009, Mark Vincent recorded the version for his debut studio album My Dream – Mio Visione.

When she turned 90 in 2015, Swedish singer Kjerstin Dellert recorded a version called Min sång (my song) with a lyric by Lars Jacob originally performed by Dellert in 1975.[18]

A Spanish language cover of the song, titled A Mi Manera, was recorded by the Gipsy Kings, in that band's signature flamenco style.

In pop culture





In the 2009 film Happy Feet, the character Mumble (Elijah Wood) sings a Spanish language version of the song to his love Gloria (Brittany Murphy). Eventually, it is revealed that the tone-deaf Mumble is lip syncing the song which is being sung by his friend Ramón (Robin Williams).

In 1996's Mad Dog Time, mob enforcer Ben London (Gabriel Byrne) performs a version of "My Way" for his boss Vic (Richard Dreyfuss) and the audience alongside a clearly uncomfortable club performer (Paul Anka). London's retools the song, changing the lyrics to turn it to his attempt to challenge Vic for control of his organization. Vic responds by clearing the nightclub and shooting London dead.

Elvis Presley's version of "My Way" was featured during the final shootout in 2001's 3000 Miles to Graceland co-starring Kevin Costner and Kurt Russell. The film features a cameo by Paul Anka as an Elvis-hating pit boss at the casino where the main robbery takes place.



  1. "How Sinatra did it My Way - via a French pop star and a Canadian lounge act". the Guardian.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 McCormick, Neil (November 8, 2007). "Paul Anka: One song the Sex Pistols won't be singing". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved November 8, 2016.
  3. Paul Anka, "With Paul Anka, 'Rock Swings', Part Two", interviewed on Fresh Air, WHYY, August 10, 2005
  4. The rights holders including Jacques Revaux and Claude François' heirs sold it to Xavier Niel in 2009
  5. "Classic Songs, My Way".
  6. Forever_Gentlemen
  7. "Record-Breakers and Trivia -".
  8. "Sinatra 'loathed' My Way". BBC. 30 October 2000. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  9. "Archive Chart: 1969-05-28" UK Singles Chart.
  10. "Italian single certifications – Frank Sinatra – My Way" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved June 25, 2013. Select Online in the field Sezione. Enter Frank Sinatra in the field Filtra. Select 2013 in the field Anno. The certification will load automatically
  11. "British single certifications – Frank Sinatra – My Way". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved June 25, 2013. Enter My Way in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search
  12. Welsh, April Clare (13 December 2015). "Frank Sinatra's Official Top 40 Biggest Selling Songs Revealed". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  13. "Canadian single certifications – Elvis Presley – My Way". Music Canada.
  14. "British single certifications – Elvis Presley – My Way". British Phonographic Industry. Enter My Way in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search
  15. "American single certifications – Elvis Presley – My Way". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  17. "Life on Mars? - David Bowie - Song Info - AllMusic".
  18. CabarEng Unnergrahn (June 9, 2016). "Min sång 2015" via YouTube.
  19. My Way tops funeral charts – An article in The Guardian
  20. J.K. Rowling (30 July 2007). "J.K. Rowling and the Live Chat" (Q&A Session). Accio-Quote. Bloomsbury. Retrieved 21 March 2016. Tess: What muggle song do you imagine would be played at dumbledores funeral (...) J.K. Rowling: Surely 'I did it my way' by Frank Sinatra.
  21. Utton, Dominic (March 28, 2009). "My Way: The story behind the song". Daily Express. London: Northern and Shell Media Publications. Retrieved July 11, 2009. 'Meanwhile in the Philippines My Way is so popular at karaoke bars that it has been declared responsible for a number of deaths after arguments over performances degenerated into violence – a social phenomenon referred to by the Philippine media as "My Way killings".'
  22. Onishi, Norimitsu (February 6, 2010). "Sinatra Song Often Strikes Deadly Chord". The New York Times. Retrieved February 9, 2009. 'Whatever the reason, many karaoke bars have removed the song from their playbooks. And the country's many Sinatra lovers... are practicing self-censorship out of perceived self-preservation.'
  23. Aliya Mustafina - Floor Music 2015. June 19, 2015 via YouTube.
  24. Sesame Street - Just Throw It My Way. July 20, 2007 via YouTube.

External links

Preceded by
"Take This Job and Shove It"
by Johnny Paycheck
RPM Country Tracks
number-one single (Elvis Presley version)

January 21–28, 1978
Succeeded by
"What a Difference You've Made in My Life"
by Ronnie Milsap
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