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My Way 6 copy


My Way—Barbara Questions Her Choices

My Way — Barbara Questions Her Choices

My Way. Those words and that song are everywhere lately. Giorgio Armani has a new perfume named My Way. The song, sans Sinatra singing and sometimes as a heavy metal or a rap arrangement, is in a number of commercials for everything from cars to, of all things, Cologuard, the do-it-yourself alternative to a colonoscopy. I imagine the renewed interest in the song, which had been something of a joke for a few years, is to jump on the diversity, gender identity and freedom (some of which seem like anything but freedom to me) movements. 

The things I will forever associate with My Way are: Sinatra’s version of this song and singing it after eating enormous amounts of food at every major family get together. We were big singers, guitarists and accordion players in my Italian-American family. Bringing whatever instrument you played, sheet music and maracas or tambourines for other guests was mandatory for gatherings of the clan. Shock, I remember, resonated through my grandparents’ kitchen when we learned Paul Anka, not Italian-American, had written the lyrics. Then the grownups agreed if Sinatra was singing his song, Anka had to be great. 

On the line, regrets, I’ve had a few,” grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles looked at each other or at their hands remorsefully or shook their heads. When the song got to, but then again, too few to mention,” their shoulders lifted, they smiled. God bless, Sinatra and Anka, they’d given my family permission to mess up and go on without guilt. The last two verses brought booming, dramatic voices in a moment of collective catharsis. Everyone belted out, Let the record show, I took all the blows, and did it my way.” A few people cried. There was nose blowing followed by the retelling of woulda, coulda, shoulda stories; acts of confession and absolution.

There are places, situations and moments that bring my regrets into sharp focus. There’s no going back. Instead, I’ll stick with Ol’ Blue Eyes and choke up every time I hear My Way. I’ll take the blows, and I’ll keep growing and try a better my way.