“Minus One” is how I learned about karaoke before it was commonly known to me as “karaoke”. I can’t remember the details anymore, but I do recall vague imagery of being a young child when my grandparents brought home a“fancy” new machine. It had one big speaker. A microphone could plug into it. It had an 8-Track slot; YES, 8-track! The very first “Minus One”track I ever heard was “My Way”. It was sung by the most, gentle man I have ever known. He was my Grandpa Luis. He had a great gritty voice, filled with wisdom. Grandpa Luis singing “My Way” was perfect. I couldn’t have thought of a better song for“Gramps” to sing and introduce my family to the world of “Minus One”. When Gramps passed away on July 7, 1988, our entire family was devastated. His passing was my first experience for enduring the loss of a loved one. I was 20 years old when he passed. His birthday is coming up on November 6. I’m celebrating my grandpa Luis’ birthday by covering the song that makes wonderful memories of my Gramps resurface. My Grandma Beatriz survived him for another 13 years before she passed on October 21, 2001. It’s hard to think of one without the other. My cover of “My Way” is dedicated to the both of them. Our entire family misses you both! We love you Gramps … We love you Grandma “Betty” …
"My Way" is a song popularized by Frank Sinatra. Its lyrics were written by Paul Anka and set to music based on the French song "Comme d'habitude" composed in 1967 by Claude François and Jacques Revaux, with lyrics by Claude François and Gilles Thibault. Anka's English lyrics are unrelated to the original French song. "My Way" is often quoted as the most covered song in history.
Paul Anka heard the original 1967 French pop song, Comme d'habitude (as usual) performed by Claude François, while on holiday in the south of France. He flew to Paris to negotiate the rights to the song. In a 2007 interview, he said: "I thought it was a bad record, but there was something in it." He acquired publishing rights at no cost except the melody's rights kept by the authors, and, two years later, had a dinner in Florida with Frank Sinatra and "a couple of Mob guys" at 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:
"At one o'clock in the morning, I sat down at an old IBM electric typewriter and said, 'If Frank 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 5am. "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).
Frank 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. It reached #27 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #2 on the Easy Listening chart in the US. In the UK, the single achieved a still unmatched record, becoming the recording with the most weeks inside the Top 40, spending 75 weeks from April 1969 to September 1971. It spent a further 49 weeks in the Top 75 but never bettered the #5 slot achieved upon its first chart run.