By: Scott RossPublished: December 30, 2022

Paul Anka

Claude François hit the top of the French pop charts in 1968 with the song "Comme d'habitude" ("As usual"), which tells the story of a couple falling out of love.

Though it never charted in the Anglophone world, it did catch the ear of some serious English-speaking songwriters, who didn't think much of the original words, but absolutely loved the melody. David Bowie took a crack at crafting his own lyrics to the song, his version being titled "Even a Fool Learns to Love," but his label told him to move on.

A couple of months later, Paul Anka took a stab at it, trying to craft the perfect coda for Frank Sinatra, with whom he'd recently had dinner down in Miami.

"We’re in Florida at the same time — he’s making a movie, we have dinner, he tells me he’s quitting show business. He’d had it. The Rat Pack was done, the FBI were all over him."

Finally, on December 30, 1968, Sinatra went into the studio and emerged with one of the great anthems of all time, "My Way," a rousing reminiscence from a man looking back at the triumphs and tragedies of his life, and taking heart in the fact that for good or ill, he did it his way.

Sinatra's version only got as high as #27, but it stayed on the Billboard charts for a year and a half and became the Chairman's signature song. The tune packed such a cultural wallop that it was covered by everyone from Elvis Presley to Sid Vicious, and when Mikhail Gorbachev finally decided to grant Warsaw Pact nations a bit of autonomy, he called the policy "The Sinatra Doctrine" because he was allowing the member states to do it their way.

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