Reviews for My Way

Booklist Reviews 2013 March #2
It's hard to imagine now, but once upon a time a 15-year-old boy from Canada could walk into an L.A. record company, sing a song he wrote, and get signed to a recording contract. Paul Anka's first hit, "Diana," came in 1957, when he was 16. He was just a kid, but so were many of his contemporaries: Frankie Lymon, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Everly Brothers. Anka had five hits in a single year, 1958, and he was among the top acts of the late 1950s and early '60s, but then something happened that could have ended his career: the Beatles. Anka wisely changed course, focusing on songwriting, but for an older audience, turning out the theme for Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, Sinatra's monster hit "My Way," and Tom Jones' "She's a Lady," while still performing in Vegas and occasionally coming up with a hit of his own ("(You're) Having My Baby"). A lively, entertaining autobiography by one of the true legends of the music business. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 March #1
The crooner who penned Frank Sinatra's signature tune reminisces about the Rat Pack, the shifting landscape of popular music and the truth behind the phrase, "What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas." Reading Anka's autobiography--written with Rolling Stone founding contributor Dalton (Who Is That Man?: In Search of the Real Bob Dylan, 2012, etc.)--is a bit like hanging out poolside with a charismatic yet self-congratulatory uncle: fun for a few minutes, but ultimately you find yourself edging away as the man just keeps rambling about the good old days. Anka begins on solid enough ground, detailing his rise to teen-idol fame with the self-penned 1957 hit "Diana" and the ensuing package tours that found him rubbing elbows with Buddy Holly, Fats Domino and Chuck Berry. Into the early '60s, Anka continued to score big hits, wisely intuiting that his career would last longer if he went the cabaret/casino route. When Beatlemania and psychedelia flooded the charts, he fully embraced the Rat Pack lifestyle and spent the ensuing decade gambling and drinking with Frank Sinatra (sweet when he wasn't drinking, vicious when he was) and Sammy Davis Jr. (sweet whether he was drinking or not), as well as various mobsters, Saudi arms dealers and casino entrepreneurs. Now that Anka has outlived Sinatra, Davis and most of the mobsters, he understandably wants to crow about it--and crow he does, citing a veggies-and-exercise regimen for his longevity. Despite dishing out a few tidbits about high rollers like Donald Trump and Steve Wynn, Anka remains disappointingly mum about his fellow musicians and presents his tales in a remarkably slack, disorganized fashion. Strictly for those who fetishize gaudy hotels, Mafia chic and sappy ballads. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 April #1

From teen idol to Vegas regular, the nimble and prolific Canadian-born songwriter and performer unfurls a charmed tale of early fame and earnest survival. With a knack for performing and impersonating popular singers of the era like Frankie Laine and Perry Como, as a young teen, Anka, the son of close-knit, middle-class Lebanese restaurant owners, was determined to strike out of his provincial upbringing in Ottawa and hit it big, playing in doo-wop groups and winning local contests. By sheer chutzpah he talked his way to his first record contract at age 15, with ABC-Paramount Records in New York, by dazzling producer Don Costa with his song "Diana," among others, and by September 1957, when the song went to #1, Anka was appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show, American Bandstand, and embarking on bus tours with the biggest names in rock 'n' roll: Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, Chuck Berry. The British invasion radically altered the scene, eclipsing many of the crooners' careers, like that of Bobby Darin, but Anka was a versatile songsmith, with canny agent Irvin Feld behind him, riding out the musical turbulence by playing in Vegas clubs and touring the world, and writing a string of steady hits for himself and others (e.g., "You're Having My Baby," "My Way" for Frank Sinatra, the score for the movie The Longest Day, even the theme song for Johnny Carson's Tonight Show). Anka recalls these complex egos of various performers rather poignantly, and he vividly depicts the corruption and Mafia shenanigans at the Copa and others spots in the late '50s and early '60s. Tenacious, tickled with success, Anka splashes plenty of juice and little restraint. (Apr.)

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