Tuesday 14 August 2018

Mary Kenny: Your funeral, your way

Now 50 years old, Sinatra's classic song still speaks to people

Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

If anyone plays Frank Sinatra's My Way at my funeral, I'll be mortified in more senses than one - the embarrassment of anyone finding out that secretly I rather loved this mawkish, self-pitying and self-justifying song, composed just 50 years ago. It's shamefully bombastic as it boasts and brags of the ego's achievements in "planning each chartered course", sometimes biting off "more than I could chew": but always standing tall and doing it "my way". It's been called "shamelessly self-mythologising" and "lamentable" by music critics. And yet, I have to admit, it gets to me every time.

In this, I am not alone. It is now the most popular choice of funeral song in Britain, according to a survey done by the Co-Op Funeralcare last year. Imagine replacing Newman's Abide With Me with this ditty! But they do. And they're not embarrassed to do so.

Neither were President and Mrs Trump embarrassed to take to the floor to My Way at their inaugural ball for the new administration - even though the song's composer, Paul Anka, had pulled out of performing the number for them, to be replaced by the jazz singer Erin Boheme. (By way of comment, Nancy Sinatra tweeted: "Just remember the first line of the song: 'And now, the end is near.'")

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