Before we can examine the way in which meaning is articulated through musical performance, we must first understand the dimensions of the text. On the one hand the art itself is treated as a living entity, existing in a constant state of evolution and development. Yet, simultaneously it can also be an object with an ‘ideal platonic existence over and above any possible performance of it’ (Small, 1995:01).
Firstly, consider the argument that the essence of music is fixed within certain significant works or musical artifacts. The work (represented by the musical score) is endowed with a considerable symbolic value, awarding it status beyond the performer, conductor and even the listener. This can be seen most clearly in works associated with the Western Classical tradition where factors such as age and genre serve to make the work appear more authentic thus solidifying its place within the ideology of high culture. Consequently, (as with any piece of music) the work is then subject to the stylistic conventions of the culture in which it inhabits. For example, in the Western tradition, performances are usually held in large affluent spaces. This signifies the notion of wealth and prosperity, reinforcing the hierarchy of social class and the notion of so-called ‘serious art’.
However, this methodology is flawed in that it fails to recognize that ‘many non-classical musics have features that cannot be expressed through the forms generated for the notation of European classical music’ (Longhurst, 2007: 151).
Even in notated popular music – Tin Pan Alley ballad, music hall vaudeville and minstrel songs, ragtime and nineteenth century dances – the published sheet music, almost always for piano and voice and piano, sometimes ‘simplified’, acted to some extent as a prognostic device or a beside the fact spin-off.
Secondly, ‘the focus on notation leads to the valuation of the score as representing what the music actually is,’ (Longhurst, 2007: 151) and consequently, the performance becomes ‘nothing more than a medium through which the work has to pass before it can reach its goal, the listener’ (Small, 1995:01).
Consequently, this departure leads to a feeling of separation and fragmentation. Consider, a typical performance at a symphony hall or opera house. The seating will most often be in rows, facing one direction, immediately aiding in the creation of the fourth wall and isolating the audience from the performers, each other and from their everyday lives.
…Players and audience never speak to one another and enter and leave the building through separate doors. The social barrier formed by the edge of the stage is as implausible as if it where a brick wall. The audience cannot influence the performance in any way.
By contrast, in contemporary culture we are accustomed to the concept of the ‘gig’, where all entities (the music, performer and the listener) are joined in a collaborative and fundamentally participatory experience.
We cannot ignore the fact that the construction and creation of music is fundamentally a practical endeavor. It is an instinctive biological process, ‘a cybernetic system where no one part can have unilateral control over any other part’ (Bateson, cited in O’Callaghan, 1982:02). Whether one’s involvement is as a performer, composer, listener or perhaps even as a stagehand or steward, all have undergone some form of physical action in their contribution to the experience as a whole. By isolating the work from the environment around it we actively deny the significance of these parties and ignore the fact that without them the work could simply not be heard.
Our bodies are inevitably implicated in the movements necessary for the playing of instruments and even more so in the actions necessary for vocalizing, where various chambers of the body, such as the lungs, the sinus passages, and the mouth, become involved through processes of amplification in the finest nuances of tone production.
At a lecture at the University of Melbourne in 1995, author Christopher Small discussed the idea of music, not as a fixed entity but as a process, where ones involvement becomes an action. Therefore the noun ‘music’ becomes the verb, ‘to music’, Small characterizes this action as ‘Musicking’. When we take part in the activity of ‘Musicking’, we don’t just hear the music; we are part of it, and are therefore no longer bound by the constraints of ‘adjectival criticism (or predicative interpretation)’ (Barthes, 1977:294). Instead we are open to express the way the music makes us feel and the way it moves us. By engaging in the process we subconsciously enter into relationships with those around us linking in a cybernetic system, defined by anthropologist Greg Bateson as ‘The Pattern that Connects’. However, the logical (and sometimes rather clinical) aspects of this process rob the music of its mystery and ethereal quality. Performances are broken down into gesture and ritual and our reactions are seen as nothing more than biological consequences.
As products of evolution and our own society we are programmed to decipher the coded messages within specific expressions. ‘Since these movements and actions are as much subject to processes of social and cultural constitution, as are any other aspects of awareness and subjectivity, they are experienced sympathetically, empathetically, and vicariously when music is heard’ (Shepherd, 169). Therefore, it can be argued that the expressions we employ during musical performance, from our treatment of the melody to the timbre and expressivity, with which we play, is nothing more than a coded language used to communicate the song’s message. For example, a vocalist may choose to inform their performance of a sentimental ballad with pained facial expressions, outstretched arms and an inferred instability in the voice. This would most likely signify the notion of sorrow and distress, triggering the parasympathetic response towards comfort in the listener.
But what of that which is beyond our control? ‘Are we reduced to the dilemma of either the predictable or the ineffable?’ (Barthes, 1977: 294). In his 1977 essay Roland Barthes identifies the existence of a secondary level of communication, ‘one that circumvents the laws and limits of the linguistic sphere, and reveals the materiality of language from within’ (www.voiceisalanguage.wordpress.com). Barthes defines this as the ‘Grain of the Voice’. This paradigm not only distinguishes the pheno-song and geno-song[i] but it also characterizes a level of address beyond even the performers control. ‘In Barthes view, some singers go beyond the expressive level to produce the pleasure of ‘jouissance[ii]’ in the audience. (Longhurst, 2007: 151)
‘Above all, this voice bears along directly the symbolic, over the intelligible, the expressive: here, thrown in front of us like a packet, is the Father, his phallic structure. The “Grain” is that: the materiality of the body speaking in its mother tongue’.
Barthes, 1977: 295
Traditional methods of ‘music pedagogy teaches not the culture of the “Grain” of the voice but the emotive modes of its delivery’. (Barthes, 1977:296) Therefore, the Grain is most often equated to those singers with little or no vocal training, artists such as Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley and Kurt Cobain are regularly cited in support of this theory.
However, perhaps the most fascinating exemplar is 1940’s crooner Frank Sinatra. Born on December 12th 1915 in Hoboken, New Jersey, Sinatra was arguably one of the most important musical figures of the 20th Century. In a career spanning over fifty years Sinatra encapsulated both a genre and a generation like none before him. As a performer ‘he developed a rich, complex style based on many ethnic strains of his times, [and as a man, he possessed] an endlessly fascinating personality, containing the constant counterpoints of toughness and tenderness’ (Mustazza, 1997: 184).
‘Using all these raw materials, Sinatra refashioned himself many times over, gaining new fans with later generations…Great entertainer, yes, but Frank was something culturally more significant, the culmination of a centuries artistic progression – the great American Popular Stylist’.
(Mustazza, 1997: 184)
Whilst his counterparts sought for a private life away from the limelight, ‘Sinatra seemed to place himself in the middle of every great social upheaval of his time’ (Mustazza, 1997: 189). This included his involvement in several high profile presidential election campaigns, such as that of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944 and John F. Kennedy sixteen years later[iii]. His public persona cleverly balanced the light and shade of his character, juxtaposing Sinatra’s image as a charitable philanthropist with that of a gambling Las Vegas playboy, with a penchant for younger women and even a connection with the Mob.
Despite this, throughout Sinatra’s many reinventions and public guises, it was the unwavering honesty and sincerity in his performance that made him the pre-eminent entertainer of his time. His ‘voice did not evoke yearning, loss, dislocation, weakness or strength…the grain embodied everything real of which it spoke; it was pain, it was despair’ (www.culturalstudies.net).
In order to substantiate these ideas, let us turn our attention to Sinatra’s most celebrated song. Originally written by French pop star Claude Francois (in collaboration with Jacques Revaux and Gilles Thibault), ‘My Way’ began life in 1967 as ‘Comme d’habitude’. It wasn’t until months later that a young Paul Anka would encounter the song during a trip to Paris. He recalls ‘it was a shitty record but there was something in it’ (www.thetelegraph.co.uk). Following a dinner meeting with Sinatra, in which the latter expressed his growing desire to leave the music business, Anka proceeded to mould the song in Sinatra’s image. This included a number of subtle changes to the melodic structure and a complete lyrical re-write. Recorded in 1968, the song featured as the first track of side two, on an album of the same name, released in February 1969. ‘It marks a tragedy that struck one of Sinatra’s closest friends, his longtime pianist Bill Miller. Injured in a mudslide that destroyed his Los Angeles home and claimed his wife’s life’ (Granata, 2004: 190).
Aged 53 at the time of recording, the Grain of Sinatra’s voice is imprinted with authenticity and sincerity. ‘Como and Crosby rarely appeared in concert in their middle years, and [as such] their voices remained unblemished’ (Mustazza, 1997: 188); by contrast Sinatra’s voice is worn and grows insecure as the melody climaxes in the choruses. Interestingly, (considering Frank as a perfectionist) Sinatra does not mask his imperfections; he embraces them, allowing the voice to speak in its mother tongue. In contrast to the songs many cover versions Sinatra displays no desire to “sing big” but instead ‘climbs to a resolution without any trace of blasting in his top notes’ (Mustazza, 1997: 187).
Sinatra’s vocal performance thrives on the counterpoint between technical efficiency and emotive accomplishment. His use of pause and lingering ‘Jolson-esque’[iv] phrasing alludes to the segregation of 1950’s America. Rather ironically, it is this feeling of separation that brings his audience together. As in ‘All Of Me’ over twenty years earlier, Sinatra bounces the lyric in the verses, never over embellishing or extending the phrase length much beyond that of colloquial language. This conversational method of delivery instantly engages the audience in an intimate and emotive dialogue, breaking the fourth wall and compelling them to enter into Sinatra’s world.
Sinatra’s phrasing is hesitant and almost always behind the beat. The effect that this creates reflects the notion that he is grappling with the sentiment of the song and struggling to summon the emotional strength for the lyric. His use of loose vibrato in the iconic lines ‘to think I did all that, and may I say not in a shy way’, seems almost like he is crying, reflecting a vulnerability in his character. As a listener, we cannot help but empathize. Lastly, his use of portamento on the lyric ‘so amusing’ gives the impression of contentment as he reflects on a life well lived.
As we approach Anka’s existential crescendo with the lyrics ‘for what is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught…’ Sinatra characterizes the melody with ‘long, flowing, legato (literally “bound together”) lines, and a particular way of extending [the] vowel sounds’ (www.jazzhouse.org). This constitutes homage to the Italian Bel Canto (perfect singing) method of vocal delivery, a style that Sinatra had employed over twenty years earlier with The Voice Of Frank Sinatra (1946) and Frankly Sentimental (1949).
‘My Way’ embodied the isolation and loneliness in Frank’s character, a theme that characterized much of his later work. Having ‘spent most of his middle years unmarried and living in hotels far from any semblance of home…Sinatra [had] once made a cutting self analysis, [branding himself] an eighteen carat manic-depressive’
(Mustazza, 1997: 190).
What made ‘My Way’ so affecting was that Frank Sinatra actually possessed the moral authority to sing it. A hoodlum, a boxer, a heart throb, a has-been, a comeback kid, a Titan, a has-been once again, and finally a living legend back on top for good, Sinatra had actually lived the kind of life described in the song, having taken the blows and done it his way.
However, can we really term Sinatra’s performance as authentic? Moore expresses the term authentic as something, which is unmediated, ‘generated in the moment of performance, [where] kinaesthetics rather than artistic logic is so often the key to why the music sounds the way it does’ (Johnson cited in Moore, 2002: 213). Firstly we must consider the fact that ‘My Way’ was not actually Sinatra’s creation; it was Anka’s. It is well documented that Sinatra was an adamant perfectionist and a ‘skilled craftsman with a high musical intelligence’ (Mustazza, 1997: 187). Therefore, we are led to question whether or not Sinatra’s subtle and heartfelt approach to his performance of ‘My Way’ was nothing more than a cleverly disguised craft, giving the illusion of emotional legitimacy.
Furthermore, we must also question Sinatra’s use of the microphone. Some have argued that his close relationship with the microphone throughout his career served to mask inadequacies in his technique, whilst others maintain that ‘he saw in the microphone the opportunity to form a style encompassing the full range of subtle, expressive nuance of the human voice’ (Mustazza, 1997: 190). However, if we are to accept the paradigm of authenticity as that which is most genuine and untouched, the implication of a third entity, (in our case the microphone) presents us with a dilemma. Walser (1993) comments:
‘…technological mediation (whether a reliance on signal modifiers, ever more powerful means of amplification and even technical mastery in many spheres) is equated with artifice, reinstating as authentic/inauthentic the distinction between the “vernacular” and the “trained” or professional’.
Cited in Moore, 2002: 213
As an auteur of the Great American style, Sinatra exploits the conventions of said style in order to convey meaning in his performance. But what of those who have followed in Sinatra’s footsteps? We must now consider the effect of relocating the song within a different set of conventions, analysis of which will enable us to comment on the way in which the meaning is re – articulated.
In 1978, Sid Vicious’s satirical take on the Sinatra classic would do just that. The performance featured as part of the film, The Great Rock and Roll Swindle (1979). Regarded by many as a ‘self-publishing, self-glorifying, cash-in vehicle for the Pistol’s manager, Malcolm McLaren (www.worldofstuart.com), the film was a rather unintelligible mockumentary based on a post break up Sex Pistols. In Vicious’s interpretation, the meaning behind Sinatra’s original valedictory anthem is subverted, and instead comes to represent the disaffection and bitterness of a subsection of British youth. A sentiment exemplified in the rewritten lyric, ‘There were times, I’m sure you knew, when there was fuck fuck fuck-all else to do’.
Often placed against ‘the Thatcher government’s new-right economic and social policies (although Thatcher was not elected until 1979)’ (Shuker, 2005:214), the Punk subculture emerged in the mid 1970’s. In contrast to the prosperity and economic stability of the post war era, this was a time characterized by civil unrest, widespread strikes in essential services and unprecedented levels of unemployment and inflation.[v] A heavily politicized and predominantly ‘left wing’ movement, ‘some commentators saw punks as unemployed youth, celebrating their unemployability’ (Shuker, 2005:213). Politically, Punk was concerned with the ideologies of individual freedom and anti-authoritarianism whilst musically, it was a reaction to the virtuosic pretention associated with mainstream 1970’s rock.
Despite their links (albeit mostly on a symbolic level) to the ‘Rock Against Racism’ movement, the Punk subculture was also affiliated with neo-Nazism. This was due to their links with the Skinhead subculture of the 1960’s and their adoption of the swastika emblem. Whilst most believe, that early punks, such as Vicious, only adopted the insignia to obtain a ‘shock value’, his blatant use of homophobic references in the lines ‘I’m not a queer’ and ‘may I say, not in a gay way’ suggest otherwise.
‘Among the founders of punk rock, [the Sex Pistols] rapidly became regarded as its quintessential exponents and inspired the formation of dozens of other bands, some of which became leading British artists of the eighties’ (Hardy, 2001:884). A friend of Johnny Rotten, Vicious’s controversial (albeit brief) encounter with fame began in 1977, when he replaced Glen Matlock as the Sex Pistols bassist. Previously a drummer for Punk outfits, ‘The Flowers of Romance’ and ‘Siouxsie and the Banshees’, ‘when Sid joined he couldn’t play guitar but his craziness fit into the structure of the band’ (www.popmatters.com). ‘The ultimate D.I.Y. Punk idol’ (www.punkrocker.org.uk), Vicious became the mouthpiece for the alienation and disenchantment of many British youth, especially; but not exclusively working class males’ (Shuker, 2005: 214). Pistols manager, Malcolm McLaren recalls; ‘His power of seduction was obvious. He didn’t just wear the clothes he acted them…Sid was good-looking and cool enough to be emulated by all the disenfranchised of his generation’ (www.punkrocker.org.uk).
By contrast, the work of Sinatra had ‘outlived the culture of its age’ (Small, 1995:01), and as such had become an artifact of the Great American style. In many ways Sinatra’s performance could be considered as the latest reincarnation of the model created by the Western Art tradition many years earlier. In symbolic terms, Vicious’s interpretation characterizes the hegemony[vi] of modern society, parodying the classicist associations of Sinatra’s original rendition by satirizing the conventions of the bourgeois and high culture. Not surprisingly, the record was met with disparagement from the older generation, who saw Vicious’s sardonic ‘piss take’ as the destruction of a classic. Interviewed in 2007, Anka himself ‘admits he was somewhat destabilized by the Sex Pistols version’ (www.telegrapgh.co.uk).
In the accompanying video footage to ‘My Way’, Vicious adopts the bricolage[vii] of the crooner tradition, conflating it with the concept of high art. The performance venue is luxurious and imposing, the audience is dressed in smart evening attire and is seated in the traditional proscenium arch arrangement. One woman is shown wearing opera glasses and as the performance climaxes, roses are thrown in a congratulatory manor. As signifiers of the opera tradition, these features serve to further amalgamate Sinatra’s original version with the Western Classical tradition.
As the performance draws to a close, Vicious produces a handgun and opens fire and we see two audience members graphically murdered before Sid swaggers offstage. He pauses briefly to flick the v’s at this audience, actively denying the social convention to ‘hold for applause’. In contrast to Sinatra (to whom the audience meant a great deal), Vicious appears to have to have little or no interest in cultivating an emotive bond with his listeners, but by contrast chooses to attack them, both literally and symbolically. This is illustrated by Viscous’s treatment of the lyric in the first verse where he replaces the phrase ‘my friends’ for ‘you cunts’.
Vocally, Sid’s performance has much the same effect. In the introduction he adopts a faux-opera accent, achieved by lifting the soft palette and dropping the tongue. This effect is compounded by his use of over emphasized vibrato, created by physically shaking his jowls from side to side. Sid’s mockery of Sinatra’s classic continues into his treatment of the words ‘case’, ‘full’ and ‘highway’ in which he flips rapidly between his head and chest register, giving the illusion of vocal instability. There is also the addition of an expletive in the third line and the sarcastic laugh, preceding the lyric ‘and so I face the final curtain’, which personifies Vicious’s blatant disregard for both Sinatra and the genre in which he inhabits.
As the tempo doubles at 1:07, Vicious replaces his earlier satire of Sinatra for a vocal delivery far more akin to the Punk idiom. This is characterized by ‘aggressive, often shouted or snarled vocals’ (Shuker, 2005: 214), the latter of which is particularly notable in the song’s hook line ‘I did it my way’. Simon Jeffes’s haunting orchestral arrangement is replaced by heavily distorted guitars and driving drum patterns, serving to root the song within the genre of punk. This juxtaposition of styles personifies the cultural width between the two versions. An effect, which is mirrored in the visuals by Vicious’s reinvention of the ‘Havana tuxedo as an outlaw costume, by styling it with a pair of black drainpipe jeans and what slowly would become the ubiquitous Punk garter. (www.punkrocker.org.uk).
‘The ideology of sincerity was central to punk’ (Shuker, 2005: 214) however, the affiliation of authenticity with Vicious’s performance is questionable. Like Sinatra, he too had led a tumultuous and somewhat tortured lifestyle. To borrow his own words he had ‘faced the wall and the world’ and had done it his way. ‘The punk rock version of James Dean, Vicious solidified his fame by dying young (at age twenty-one), leaving behind memories of his notorious behavior and the mystery of girlfriend Nancy Spungen’ (www.popmatters.com), for whom he was charged with murder. Tragically, Vicious died months before The Great Rock and Roll Swindle premiered, making his ‘eerily prophetic performance’ (www.imdb.com) all the more symbolically potent.
Vicious’s vocal performance is raw and primitive throughout, and it is hard to define any semblance of vocal vanity or cognitive mediation, most likely because he possessed neither the desire nor skill to do so. Punk ‘was a sound best suited to expressing anger and frustration…ramming all emotions into the narrow gap between a blank stare and a sardonic grin’ (Marcus, cited in Shuker, 2005: 214). By embracing this philosophy, Vicious allows his voice to speak in the mother tongue and thus his performance is authenticated.
Conversely, it could also argued that ‘the aggressively anti-technique demotic of [Vicious’s performance is simply] the product of careful contrivance’ (Shepherd, 2003:456). Despite his apparent rejection of propriety, Sid’s performance still adopts the conventions of Punk idiom and in this case is ideologically stylized within the genre. In the second half of the song, this is illustrated through the use of heavily distorted power chords and minimalist instrumentation, whilst in his vocal performance this is manifested in his snarling and often intimidating approach. This is reminiscent of former Pistols front man Johnny Rotten, who is widely regarded to be the auteur of this method of vocal delivery. Rather ironically, Vicious’s interpretation of ‘My Way’ was supposed to be an affront to Rotten[viii]; who had left the band a year earlier under rising tensions caused by Viscous’s worsening heroin addiction, and his turbulent relationship with Nancy Spungen.
In this sense, the authenticity of Vicious’s performance becomes what Moore refers to as an authenticity of experience’, not one of direct ownership. Moore identifies this as ‘second person’ authenticity. This effect is compounded by the fact that neither the lyrics nor the melody are his; therefore in some ways Vicious could be considered to be doing it ‘Sinatra’s way’, or perhaps even ‘Anka’s Way’.
…the ‘authenticity’ which its fans found in this music was defined not by its anchorage in the past, nor by the integrity of its performers, but by its ability to articulate for its listeners a place of belonging, an ability which distinguished it from other cultural forms, particularly those which promised ‘mere entertainment’ (in which they invested nothing more than cash), or those belonging to hegemonic groupings (in which they could not invest).
Despite their stark differences both Sinatra and Vicious exploit the stylistic conventions of the period they inhabit to articulate their meaning and in this they share a common thread. Further parallels can be drawn between the artists themselves; both provided a voice of unity in an otherwise disillusioned and fragmented generation, both shared a turbulent and troubled lifestyle and in the years preceding their deaths both have become artifacts of their time.
‘Frith argues that analysis of songs should proceed in three directions. First, attention should be paid to the way in which singers sing a song…second; analysis should locate the song in a genre. Third, detailed consideration should be given to how songs work. For example, this could involve analysis of words as a form of rhythm and sound’.
Longhurst, 2007: 162
While my analysis proceeds in this fashion I wish extend my critique further. Through the poststructuralist ideologies of Barthes and Kristeva we are able to formulate an understanding beyond that of Saussure’s theory of signification. ‘Positing that texts somehow envelop if not penetrate people’s minds, that people’s awareness is linguistically constituted, and that, as a consequence, people’s subjectivities are immersed, lost, or “disappeared” in textual processes themselves’ (Shepherd, 2003:162). Through these practices our analysis extends beyond the predicable and attempts to define that which is indefinable. The grain of the voice, speaking in its mother tongue.
In the presence of the grain of his voice, the temporal and spatial distance between producer and listener does not exist (www.culturalstudies.net) ‘it is the soul that accompanies the song not the body’ (Barthes, 1977:296). Like the pages of a book the artist’s voices are imprinted with their past experiences, authenticating their performances as true and sincere.
Along with Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’ (1935) and McCartney’s ‘Yesterday’ (1965), ‘My Way’ is documented as one of the most covered songs in history. However, from Nina Simone and Shirley Bassey to Robbie Williams and U2, few have possessed the emotional legitimacy needed to produce a truly authentic performance. In my view, their mistake has been trying to recreate the sentiment of the original, when in fact the premise of the song celebrates a character that has done things ‘his way’.
[i] A paradigm expressed originally by Julia Kriteva
[ii] Jouissance’ refers to something like the pleasure of an orgasm. (Longhurst, 2007: 151)
[iii] Sinatra recorded a re-written version of ‘High Hopes’ (1959) to accompany Kennedy’s 1960 presidential election campaign.
[iv] To clarify, by the term ‘Jolson – esque’ I am referring to the work of American singer, entertainer and actor Al Jolson.
[v] In economics, this effect is known as ‘Stagflation’
[vi] To clarify, hegemony is a Marxist concept, advanced to explain how a ruling class maintains its dominance by achieving a popular consensus mediated through various institutions of society, including the mass media’ (Shuker, 2005” 135).
[vii] Often employed in discussions of subculture (particularly punk), the concept of Bricolage was initially devised by anthropologist Levi –Strauss. It refers to ‘the construction or creation of a work from a diverse range of things which happen to be available’ (www.websters-dictionary-online.org).
[viii] A point reflected in the final verse where Vicious changes the lyrics to ‘For what is a prat, what has he got, when he wears hats and he cannot, say the things he truly feels’. Undoubtedly a reference to Rotten, who was fond of collecting different hats from rummage sales.
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Discography / Filmography:
Frank Sinatra (1946): The Voice of Frank Sinatra. Legacy & Columbia
Frank Sinatra (1949): Frankly Sentimental. Columbia
Frank Sinatra (1969): My Way. Reprise
The Sex Pistols (1979): The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle (album). Virgin Records
Julien Temple (1980): The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle (film). Don Boyd / Jeremy Thomas
Frank Sinatra: My Way (1969) Lyrics
And now, the end is near,
And so I face the final curtain.
My friends, I’ll say it clear;
I’ll state my case of which I’m certain.
I’ve lived a life that’s full –
I’ve travelled each and every highway.
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.
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.
I planned each chartered course
Each careful step along the byway,
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.
Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew,
When I bit off more than I could chew,
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up and spit it out.
I faced it all and I stood tall
And did it my way.
I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried,
I’ve had my fill – my share of losing.
But now, as tears subside,
I find it all so amusing.
To think I did all that,
And may I say, not in a shy way –
Oh no. Oh no, not me.
I did it my way.
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.
Yes, it was my way.
Sid Vicious (Sex Pistols): My Way (1979) Lyrics
And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
You cunt, I’m not a queer
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I’ve traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way
Regrets, I´ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did, what I had to do
And saw it through with out exemption
I planned each chartered course
Each careful step along the highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way
There were times, I´m sure you knew
When there was fuck fuck fuck-all else to do
But through it all, when there was doubt
I shot it up or kicked it out
I faced the wall and the world
And did it my way
I’ve laughed and been a snake
I’ve had my fill, my share of losing
And now, the tears subside
I find it all so amusing
To think, I killed a cat
And may I say, not in a gay way
Oh no, oh no not me
I did it my way
For what is a brat, what has he got
When he wears hats and he cannot
Say the things he truly feels
But only the words, of one who kneels
The record shows, I fucked a bloke
And did it my way