Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” Lyrics Meaning
The sentiments in Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” are being expressed by an individual who is looking back on his life’s journey. And for the most part, he is very much satisfied.
Yes, he took “blows” along the way and dealt with various hardships. But in hindsight he can say that not only did he overcome these challenges but also, all things considered, enjoyed himself.
So perhaps the best way of describing this person, at least based on his own account, is that he is a victor in the game of life. But more important to the thesis of the lyrics is that he did so ‘his way’. Or perhaps a better way of looking at this statement is that he held nothing back. He lived the type of life he believed in, not being shy (i.e. cowardly) about it in the process. Thus his overall feeling of contentment isn’t so much about having material accomplishments to show for his endeavors. Rather it is the internal feeling of knowing that he did not compromise his personal beliefs, principles and individualism in the process of attaining success.
Did Frank Sinatra write “My Way”?
No. The lyrics to this song were written by Paul Anka. He was inspired by living in what he termed as “the me generation”. This was a period in time where he witnessed a marked shift in popular ideologies towards individualism. Moreover he intentionally set out to use the type of terminology which he heard the Chairman of the Board utilize, as they were personal associated.
In fact Mr. Anka was a singer himself, who happened to be slappin’ in the late 1960s. Yet he turned the opportunity, to the chagrin of his label, down to record “My Way” under his own name, as once again he wrote it specifically with Sinatra in mind. And apparently he did so in an attempt to prevent Frank from quitting the music business, which according to Anka he was contemplating at the time. But it should be noted that after Mr. Sinatra dropped his version, Paul Anka issued his own rendition also.
And Paul was obviously right on the money in regards to saying it was Sinatra’s song. For Frank not only recorded the tune in just one take, but it also went on to become the defining track of his iconic career.
Paul Anka’s most successful work
This was also the most-prominent product of Paul Anka’s musicianship as even his autobiography, which came out in 2013, is entitled “My Way”.
Frank Sinatra hated “My Way”
Frank Sinatra’s daughter later revealed that he actually despised this song for two reasons. One is that, being his signature track, he couldn’t shake free of it. And secondly he perceived “My Way”, according to Tina Sinatra, as being “self-serving and self-indulgent”. In fact Mr. Sinatra, in his own words, was upset that such a song “became a kind of national anthem”.
“My Way” was a major success
This song was indeed a big success, charting in Canada, Ireland, the United States and the United Kingdom. Moreover “My Way” has held the record, going on 60 years now heading into 2020, of being the track which has spent the most time amongst the UK Top 40.
“My Way” peaked at number 5 on the UK Singles Chart but remained within the Top 40 itself for an amazing 75 weeks.
And since then, it has also earned the distinction of being one of the most-requested funeral songs in the UK.
Release Date of “My Way”
Reprise Records, a label founded by Frank Sinatra (1915-1998), released “My Way” on 1 January 1969 as the title song from Ol’ Blue Eyes’ album of the same name.
Artists who have covered “My Way” throughout the years include the following:
- Elvis Presley (1977)
- Sid Vicious (1978)
- The Sex Pistols (1979)
- Willie Nelson (2018)
“My Way” has been utilized in pop media and various venues as the decade have progressed.
For instance when German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (1998-2005) lost his title to Angela Merkel in 2005, part of the German army’s salute during his official resignation ceremony was playing some of his favorite songs, which included “My Way”.
This song was also played at the inaugural ball, indeed serving as the first dance of the event, of US President Donald Trump on 20 January 2017.
Even more interestingly, it was amongst the tracks played at the funeral of slain gangsta rapper Nipsey Hussle on 12 April 2019.