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Archive for July 27th, 2010:


French Pop Song of the Week: 1969 French Hit in the U.S.

posted July 27, 2010

Posted by Thomas Riggs in music translation world literature

In the summer of 1967 American songwriter Paul Anka was visiting France. One day, as the story goes, Anka, already a huge success in the United States, was glancing at a television, and by chance he saw the French pop star Claude François singing “Comme d’habitude” (”As Always”), which had just been released. Taken by the melody, Anka found an album of Claude François’s, returned to the United States, and eventually wrote English lyrics for the song. The words are those of a man reflecting on life at the end of his career, and Anka wrote them with Frank Sinatra and Sinatra’s image in mind. In 1969 Sinatra released Anka’s English version, called “My Way.”

Thus were the origins of one of the most successful pop songs in American history. Popularized by Frank Sinatra, “My Way” has since been recorded by more than a thousand other singers. But as explained on this French television program, in France it wasn’t initially a big hit for Claude François, who cowrote the song with Jacques Revaux and Gilles Thibaut. The French lyrics are also completely different, expressing a weary routine in a relationship.

Below is a video of Claude François and Mireille Mathieu singing “Comme d’habitude” in 1973. By this time even Elvis had a version of “My Way.” François and Mathieu end this short version of the song with lines from Anka’s English lyrics.

Following the video is a translation of the original French song. (For a video in which Claude François sings all the French lyrics, click here.)

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