From Nuffnang

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The French Song that Inspired the Deadly "My Way"

Singing with a karaoke or videoke machine is a favorite pastime among many Filipinos. The 1969 song My Way, as popularized by Frank Sinatra, is a commonly selected entry in those machines; at least when the machine is installed in a private setting. Many patrons of karaoke bars, which are usually situated in public areas, have avoided the song in view of the so-called "My Way killings."

"My Way killings" refer to a series of murders in which the victims got shot or stabbed while singing that famous song. According to a 2010 New York Times article, news media have recorded at least six victims in the decade up to that year. Those crimes have been attributed to many reasons such as irritability due to off-key singing and drunkenness. Perhaps, the song has something sinister in it. To some people, the opening lyrics even portend someone's death:

"And now, the end is near"  
"And so I face the final curtain"
"My friend, I'll say it clear"
"I'll state my case, of which I'm certain"

Many karaoke bar operators have voluntarily removed My Way from their playlists. Consequently, patrons in other bars have stopped selecting the song in effort to avoid trouble. Despite this phenomenon, you may like to sing along with Frank on this video:

Video Credit: YouTube / PanMVideos

My Way might have an ominous association but not many people know that the lyrics were written by the equally popular singer-songwriter Paul Anka. Anka's basis for the music is the song Comme d'habitude (French for As Usual), which he heard while vacationing in France in 1968. 

Interestingly, Comme d'habitude had in turn originally been written in English, titled For Me. Jacques Revaux, Francois' songwriting partner, had been unsatisfied with the recording of this English song. Comme d'habitude was the result of the revision. For comparison purposes, following is a video with co-composer/lyricist Claude Francois performing:

Video Credit: YouTube / copilunio

It can be noticed that the melodic structures are very much similar. The difference, however, lies in these songs lyrics. My Way is about a man's contemplation of his life as he faces death. (Click here for My Way lyrics). On the other hand, the lyrics of Comme d'habitude is about a failed relationship. (Click here for the original French and English-translated lyrics.)

So the next time we hear My Way, (and hopefully we survive), let us be reminded of the French connection to this all-time "deadly" yet great song.

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