Acrossthebarline

November 14, 2009

"My Way." Macho Rat-Pack Death Knell, Part 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — improviz @ 3:00 PM



1950’s teen idol body count: Fabian and Frankie Avalon-alive. Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson-dead. Wayne Newton and Pat Boone? Hard to say. Paul Anka? Alive, but living for the last 40 years in a bizarre psycho-musical twilight zone of his own devising. “My Way,” “She’s A Lady”and “She’s Having My Baby;” this, his enduring triumvirate, is ripe for entombment.

Anka started off in the classic teen idol mold-“Diana,” “Put Your Head on My Shoulder”- perfectly acceptable schlock. If you were a horny kid lookin’ to cop a feel in 1958, this was the right stuff.

In the 1960’s he was sucker-punched by Rock, but in 1969, Anka heard a French song called “Comme d’habitude” (“as usual”). He went to France and bought the rights to pen English lyrics. He wrote words as akin to the dry, world-weary French lyrics as Trader Joe’s Burgundy is to Chateau Lafite.

Much as Michelangelo would ask himself how the Medicis might envision Moses and God, Anka says that as he wrote the lyrics he thought: ‘If Frank (Sinatra) were writing this, what would he say,’ adding that the Rat Pack liked to talk ‘like mob guys.’ Huh? I ain’t never heard Little Caesar say this:

“…Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption

…For what is a man, what has he got
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way.”

True, the unappetizing bombast built into the original French music sets up any set of lyrics to fail. However, Anka, through a combination of mangled syntax, agonizing rhymes and (you’ll like this)faux ego-tique, managed to create arguably the most cringe-inducing climax in American popular music.

Me, I like Sinatra. Smarminess notwithstanding, I know he stood up for civil rights and was a hell of a singer in his day. My Way succeeds at elevating the seamiest aspects of his reputation, flattening the man to self-caricature. There’s ample blame to go around here-Anka, Sinatra, the Frenchmen, the Industry, the Audience, but anyway you slice it, someone must pay and may I say, not in a shy way. For today, we’ll not say neigh, we’ll do it the Crypt Way.

Stay tuned for Macho Rat-Pack Death Knell, Part 2: “She’s A Lady.”

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3 Comments »

  1. i must inveighyou do slaysans oy vey!-Anka Aten

    Comment by rob chalfen — July 28, 2009 @ 3:45 PM

  2. Crypt-Daddy,As always you are fearless, honest and not a little cruel.For your encryptment consideration: an entire musical. Yes, I mean "Fiddler." Is there anything worth saving? Signed,Cobalt Patricia

    Comment by Anonymous — July 29, 2009 @ 2:35 AM

  3. How can you ask me to sell out my people? Don't forget-I'm related to Chagall.

    Comment by Steve — August 9, 2009 @ 7:51 PM


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