Paul Anka first heard Comme d’habitude on the radio in 1968 during a visit to Paris. He secured the rights and wrote the now legendary English lyrics specifically for Frank Sinatra, who had revealed that he wanted to retire and wanted Anka to write one last song for him.
Sitting in his New York apartment during a thunderstorm late one night, Anka sat behind his typewriter, listened to the music and wondered ‘what would Frank say if he was writing this?’ He began typing, ‘And now the end is near, and so I face the final curtain’ and finished the song by 5 a.m.
Sinatra recorded the song in under half an hour, requiring only two takes. My Way was released in 1969 and peaked at #27 on Billboard’s Hot 100. It spent a record 124 weeks on the UK singles chart, reaching the #5 position.
Other famous artists have recorded My Way throughout the years with great success. Elvis Presley’s live recording of the song was released in December 1977, months after his death and peaked at #2 on Billboard. The Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious recorded his version of the song in 1979, which charted at #6 in the UK.
Anka has often said that he credits My Way as the turning point in his career as a songwriter. His label wanted him to keep the song for himself, but he declined, believing that he was too young to give the powerful lyrics justice.