Arts and Entertainment

My Way: The story behind Sinatra's signature song | Centerstage presents musical tribute

 “My Way, A Tribute to Frank Sinatra” will run Jan. 28 to Feb. 20 at the Knutzen Family Theatre in Federal Way. - Courtesy photo
“My Way, A Tribute to Frank Sinatra” will run Jan. 28 to Feb. 20 at the Knutzen Family Theatre in Federal Way.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

January 2011 is the 40th anniversary of the release of “My Way” by Frank Sinatra.

Beginning Friday, Jan. 28, Centerstage Theatre will celebrate with performances of “My Way: A Tribute to Frank Sinatra.”

This song defined Frank Sinatra’s career and has been extremely popular around the world for decades. It’s interesting to look at all the twists and turns that happened to make it so.

Originally titled “Comme d’Habitude” (As Usual), it was sung by the French singer Claude Francois, and in 1967 reached number one in France. Other than the tune, we probably wouldn’t recognize it today. It was a gloomy song about the end of a love affair opening with “I get up, I shake you — you don’t wake up as usual.”

Thankfully, while vacationing on the French Riviera, Paul Anka heard the song. He thought it was awful, but he did hear something in it he thought was different. He went to Francois and co-writer Jacques Reveaux and acquired the rights for free.

Once Anka was back in New York, he lacked the inspiration to do anything with the song, and so it sat. It wasn’t until Anka had dinner with Frank Sinatra that he was inspired to revive the song. Frank said he was “quitting the business” and reminded Anka he promised to write a song for him. That was the impetus Anka had to pull out his typewriter (remember those?) and start composing the lyrics as if Sinatra were writing them himself.

Anka knew if he was writing a defining song for Sinatra, he wanted it to capture who Frank Sinatra was, right down to the way he talked.

Anka pulled an “all nighter” and felt that the song practically wrote itself. At 5 a.m., he called Sinatra and told him he had something very special for his last album. They met in Las Vegas where Anka sang the new “My Way” for Sinatra. Frank’s reaction was nonchalant, as was usual for him. Two months later, Anka got a call from Sinatra who said “Kid, listen to this,” and put the phone to a speaker. Coming from the speaker was Frank Sinatra singing “My Way,” which became his theme song.

To celebrate many of Frank Sinatra’s most memorable songs, Centerstage has put together a group of amazing singers who will sing a two-hour medley of Sinatra’s hits. The performers are all well known for their musical and vocal talent and include Laurie Clothier, Bob Dea, Katin Jacobs-Lake and Matt Posner. Director and Musical Director is David Duvall, who brought us the fabulous “Ain’t Misbehavin’” last year.

Check it out

“My Way, A Tribute to Frank Sinatra” will run Jan. 28 to Feb. 20 at the Knutzen Family Theatre in Federal Way. Ticket prices are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors/military/college students and $10 for youth. Visit www.centerstagetheatre.com or call (253) 661-1444.

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