Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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My Way

Co-written and first recorded (as “Comme d’habitude”) by Claude François (1967).
Hit English-language versions by Frank Sinatra (US #27/MOR #2 1969), Dorothy Squires (UK #25 1970), Elvis Presley (US #22/MOR #6/UK #9 1977 |C&W #2 1978).
Also recorded by Paul Anka (1969).

From the wiki: “‘My Way’ was 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’ (‘As Usual’) co-written by Claude François, and first performed in 1967 by François.

“Anka’s English lyrics are unrelated to the original French song. He had heard the original 1967 French pop song by François while on holiday in the south of France. Anka flew to Paris to negotiate the rights to the song, acquiring adaptation, recording, and publishing rights for the mere nominal, but formal, consideration of one dollar, 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.

“Some time later, Anka had a dinner in Florida with Frank Sinatra during which Sinatra said ‘I’m quitting the business. I’m sick of it; I’m getting the hell out.’ Back in New York, Anka re-wrote the original French song for Sinatra, subtly altering the melodic structure and changing the lyrics.

“Anka later recalled ‘At one o’clock in the morning, I sat down at an old IBM electric typewriter and said, ‘If Frank [Sinatra] 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 in the morning. ‘I called Frank up in Nevada – he was at Caesar’s Palace – and said, ‘I’ve got something really special for you.” 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.’ Despite this, Anka would later record the song in 1969 (very shortly after Sinatra’s recording was released).

“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. Although this work became Frank Sinatra’s signature song (‘My Way’ peaked at #2 on the MOR music chart), 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.’

“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 the summer 1970. Her recording reached #25 on the UK Singles chart.

“Elvis Presley began performing ‘My Way’ in concert during the mid-1970s, despite Anka’s suggestions that the song did not suit him. Nevertheless, on January 12 and 14, 1973, Presley sang the song during his satellite show Aloha from Hawaii Via Satellite, beamed live to 43 countries (and an estimated audience of 1 billion viewers) 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 filmed during Presley’s June 21, 1977 performance in Rapid City, South Dakota, and broadcast posthumously in October 1977) was released as a single. In the U.S., ‘My Way’ reached #22 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart in late-1977/early-1978 (higher than Frank Sinatra’s peak position).”

Frank Sinatra, “My Way” (1969):

Paul Anka, “My Way” TV performance from The Music Scene (ABC-TV) (1969):

Dorothy Squires, “My Way” (1970):

Elvis Presley, “My Way” live performance (June 21, 1977 @ Rapid City, SD):

Elvis Presley, “My Way” studio recording (1977):

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