Driving My Way (Frank Sinatra’s Wild Ride)
based on Frank Sinatra’s famous song, “My Way.” As the commentary is rather long, I’ve put it at the bottom of this page.
And so, the trip is near;
I’m finishing the final packing.
My destination’s clear,
Although a couple maps I’m missing.
I’m tired of turnpike fees,
So no more tolls will I pay.
Oh, no: I’ll miss them all
And get there
Wrong turns? I’ve made a few;
But then again, too few to mention.
I think that some credit’s due
My geographical retention.
I know each little town,
And ev’ry intersecting byway.
All this looks new to me;
We’ll assume it’s
Yes, there were times I didn’t know
Just where I was, or where to go.
When landmarks aren’t where they should be,
Who needs a map, when I’ve got Me?
If you don’t turn, you’ll never learn
How I find MY WAY.
This road looks like it ends.
Which road is next? I am still musing.
And now as night descends
I find it all so confusing.
I’m forced to ask myself,
What happened to that wretched highway?
Oh, well–we’ll find it soon,
For what is a man when he is lost?
He won’t be told, he won’t be bossed.
He’ll drive whichever way he feels
Stone-deaf to anyone’s appeals.
I’m one of those, so I’ll take my blows
And drive us MY WAY.
My first introduction to this song, or rather its original, was, appropriately enough, a parody. While I was in England during parts of 1992-1993, there was a paint commercial (must’ve been ITV or Channel 4) that featured a large dog walking through a series of rooms painted different colors and lip-synching a version of “My Way” that dealt with choosing paints. Was it another attempt to get people to express their individualism through brand-name conformity? Possibly, but the dog was still cute.
The more familiar I became with the original, the more I preferred the commercial with the dog and the paint. At least one gets the impression that the writers of this song must have been flaming egotists. Imagine getting to the end of your life and realizing that your only contribution to the world is that you were successful in imposing your will on others: not toward any greater societal or economic good, but just for the satisfaction of your own ego. I keep thinking this is the sort of thing that Tim McVeigh might have been humming on the way to the execution chamber.
From that perspective, coming up with a parody was practically mandatory, preferably one in which the original’s attitude is shown in terms of its net effects. Driving, of course, is a natural context, and one in which the consequences of placing ego over reality are recognizable and easily condensed into a single parody. If nothing else, geography highlights one of the fallacies of Relativism: yes, sometimes there’s more than one way to get somewhere; but there are a whole bunch of ways that don’t.
Even though this is one of my personal favorites, there are a couple points against it. The last verse, for example, is rather sexist (though the stereotype does seem to ring true). Also, the first bridge isn’t entirely satisfactory. But then when I wrote it I lived in Oklahoma; unsatisfactory bridges were not unusual.
Copyright 2005, 2010