Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"My Way Killings"? NO WAY!

Say it ain’t so.

Philippine authorities do not know exactly how many people have been killed for crooning “My Way” in that country’s karaoke bars over the years. But the news media recorded at least half a dozen victims in the past decade.

It’s been dubbed the “My Way Killings.” Even those Philippinos who admit to loving the song have stopped singing it, even at private parties. The song has also been removed from many playlists.

That’s what you get in the karaoke-obsessed Philippines for daring to follow Frank Sinatra, I guess.

Some folks blame the “arrogance” of the lyrics. Written for Sinatra by Paul Anka as an unapologetic summing up of Sinatra’s career, the words include those of a tough guy who “when there was doubt,” simply “ate it up and spit it out.” It must be noted here that Elvis included the song in his concerts. Well, it fits, eh?

My good buddy Jim, Sinatra buff extraordinaire, might well agree. It’s the only one of the Chairman’s songs I ever heard him deride.

I, however, disagree. I love the song—and the lyrics. To me, it bespeaks endurance and perseverance, sort of a musical version of the poem Invictus. It tells the story of a person facing the end of full life without regret, despite mistakes. It’s the way I’d like to go out.

Invictus, Latin for "unconquered", gave it’s name to the title of a recent movie about Nelson Mandela, directed by Clint Eastwood. But that’s not why it springs to mind.

It was my father’s favorite poem, which I read during my eulogy at his funeral some 14 years ago. Last week would have been his 89th birthday and this Thursday is the anniversary of his death, so he is on my mind more than usual.

Below is the poem followed by the lyrics—you decide.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

My Way lyrics
And now the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend I'll say it clear
I'll state my case of which I'm certain

I've lived a life that's full
I 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 without exemption

I planned each charted 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
And 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 not
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

As for me, I find the last line of each is not a bad exit line.

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