Thursday, November 08, 2007

It's the Highway

For the song Paul Anka wrote for Frank Sinatra when he was threatening to retire:

Frank drops a bombshell - he says, 'I'm quitting the business. I'm sick of it, I'm getting the hell out.' I was floored by this - no more Frank, no more parties."

When Anka returned to New York, he took the sheet music out of his drawer and played it on his piano, subtly changing the melodic structure.

"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.'?"

But enough is enough, even for one of his biggest money makers:

Anka, 66, admits he was "somewhat destabilised by the Sex Pistols' version. It was kind of curious, but I felt he was sincere about it." He likes versions by Nina Simone, Shirley Bassey and the Gypsy Kings, and admits he got "a little bang" from Elvis Presley's performance.

....Otherwise, Anka says his fondness for his most successful song has waned. "I stayed in a hotel room in Boston and there were 82 Irishmen on Paddy's day singing My Way till four in the morning. I got sick of it after a while. I'd get letters from guys on death row.

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