Saturday, December 28, 2013

Song #460 of 9999 - My Way by Frank Sinatra

Song #460 of 9999

Title: My Way
Artist: Frank Sinatra
Year: 1969
Album: My Way

So very short on time tonight so here I go. Fifteen-minute post. :-O

I made reference in a previous post to a Steven Sondheim documentary I saw recently on HBO (check it out!), which I followed up with an old Fresh Air interview later on. One of the things Sondheim talked about is how people always think composers are writing autobiographical song and he was almost always writing for characters so the songs were very rarely ever reflective of his personal story. Paul Anka tells a similar story about writing "My Way," which he consciously wrote in Frank Sinatra's voice, using phrases he would personally never use like "I ate it up and spit it out." In fact, the song was not only written in the "language of Frank," it was written about Sinatra's personal circumstances, i.e. he had decided to leave show business. So, in essence, the song is biographical but written in the first person, making it seem autobiographical, which it is when Frank sings it. Got that?

And of course, that's why it works so tremendously well. Sinatra sells the song so convincingly and easily because the words were tailor-made for him. That it took Anka only four hours to write the whole thing shows just how attuned he was to Sinatra's personality and persona. It is perhaps the most perfect pairing of singer and song ever.

And I'm out of time.

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