To say I’m not a fan of Frank Sinatra is an understatement. And so it irks me to think that people might credit him with having written this song. (In fact it was written by Paul Anka!) In any event, I doubt it was ever sung with more authority than last night when I heard it sung—in person—by the jazz/blues frontman, George Rankin:
I’ve lived a life that’s full,
I’ve traveled each and ev’ry highway.
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way.
To say that old George ‘owned’ the song is a cliché that isn’t much bettered by saying that he did it “his way”. But that’s my theme, so I’m sticking with it. It might have helped that Rankin had the perfect audience—patrons of Pedro y Lola’s in Mazatlan’s centro historico.
If I’m typical of old Mazatlan’s gringo population, then you can believe me when I say we’ve happened upon this backwater paradise by virtue of having eluded the kind of enviable financial security that often comes with doing things “other people’s way”. Yes, okay, in a way we are blessed failures. Isn’t that… amusing.
I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried.
I’ve had my fill; my share of losing.
And now, as tears subside,
I find it all so amusing…
Look, all I really want to say is this—which I remember feeling so strongly last night—that we so enjoyed this special session (with not only George Rankin but also Ruby Hinton reinventing some old favourites with all her heart and Jock (“man of steel”) Budelman on sax and Rob Lamonica on keyboard) because I feel safe in saying that one of the things many of us residents of old Maz share is a common answer to the question, “Your money or your life?”
For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels;
And not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows—
and did it my way!
Is there meaning in my way? The skeptics will nay say. Let them. They don’t even do so at their own peril. Reason being: when a person is living their way, the organism falls so in tune…is so tuneful…that even the skeptic will attribute it to being “true to himself”. Though he won’t want to talk about it.
And then George put his heart into “Old Man River”…
He don’t say nothin’
But he must know somethin’
Cause he just keeps rollin’