Song feature: Comme D’habitude

I gave a lecture for the Alliance Française du North Shore (of Chicago) on Monday, and had a great time speaking with members of their chapter. I feel like my talk went pretty well, and it reminded me how rusty I feel conversationally.

I began talking music with one of their members, and we discussed our favorite French songs and musicians. He mentioned the tune “Comme D’habitude” by Claude François. Give it a listen:

Sound familiar? Obviously. Turns out, Paul Anka heard the tune while in Paris, and rewrote the words for Frank Sinatra as “My Way.” While the latter is a reflective look back at one’s life, the original lyrics to “Comme D’habitude” (translated “As Usual”) speak more to a romantic relationship at the end of its run.

I don’t think there is any scandal surrounding Anka’s rewrite; Anka obtained the rights legally and all credit seems to be retained where it was due. But as I discussed music with Bill (the gentleman from the AF du NS), he did express some light disdain for Bobby Darin’s rewrite of Trenet’s “La Mer” (which became the American hit “Beyond the Sea”).

Can’t rewrite or translate every masterpiece and make everyone happy, I guess.

I’ve added “Comme D’habitude” to my Paris playlist on Spotify, found here.


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