Bowie had been in several mediocre English bands (Konrads, Manish Boys, King Bees, Lower 3rd, The Buzz) through the 1960s. In 1967 he was a jobbing songwriter employed by music publishers in Denmark Street, London’s "Tin Pan Alley". When he tackled "Comme d’habitude", his effort was "Even a Fool Learns to Love".

Bowie’s effort was rejected and forgotten. It can be found as a short demo recording on YouTube. Oddly, he sang his new lyric over the top of François’ original recording.

American singer Paul Anka heard "Comme d'habitude" while on holiday in the south of France and flew to Paris to negotiate the rights to the song. He recalled: "I thought it was a shitty record but there was something in it." The French version tells the story of a man, living out the end of his marriage, love killed by the boredom of everyday life. Anka's new lyrics were about a man looking back fondly on a life lived on his own terms. The title was "My Way".

In 1969 the song was a huge hit for US singer Frank Sinatra and it became his signature song, spending 75 weeks in the UK Top 40, a record that still stands. But he came to loathe it, later calling it "a Paul Anka pop hit which became a kind of national anthem".

It exploded into one of the most successful songs of all time, recorded by dozens of artists. Elvis Presley began performing the song in concert during the mid-1970s. Sex Pistol Sid Vicious punked it up. In 1971, Bowie used the melody as the basis of his "Life on Mars?", on the "Hunky Dory" album, with the sleeve saying "Inspired by Frankie". These days "My Way" is a great favourite at funerals.

Budapest will no doubt hear Anka sing it when he appears at Papp László Budapest Sportárena on July 17. The show is called "Celebrating 60 Years of Hits – His Way".


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