Life's been good to Paul Anka - very good, in fact. But even as he enters his 50th year in the music business, he's not satisfied when his own work is merely good. "For me," he says, "the good has...
Life's been good to Paul Anka - very good, in fact. But even as he enters his 50th year in the music business, he's not satisfied when his own work is merely good. "For me," he says, "the good has always been the enemy of great. To be great, you've got to forget about that select few who are going to talk about you if you don't quite make the mark -- you've got to challenge yourself."
Armed with a sense of tenacity as formidable as his talent, Anka has conquered many challenges over the course of the last five decades, forging a career that's unlike any other in the history of pop. As he made the transition from '50s teen idol to celebrated songwriter to a contemporary torchbearer for all that swings, he has maintained a commitment to quality, bringing his best to whatever he faces. Indeed, Anka's two most recent albums - Rock Swings and now Classic Songs, My Way - have inspired millions of music listeners to not just hear some familiar songs in new ways but to marvel at the enduring ingenuity and integrity of Anka as an artist and performer.
Plenty of other artists have him to thank for some big hits, too. His 900-song catalog includes such titles as "She's a Lady" (Tom Jones), "Puppy Love" (Donny Osmond), "It Doesn't Matter Any More" (Buddy Holly) and "Teddy" (Connie Francis). The theme he wrote for The Tonight Show was heard every night by millions of Johnny Carson fans. As for "My Way," it can be heard at any given moment in a karaoke bar somewhere on the planet.
His goal on Rock Swings - and now Classic Songs, My Way - was to "take great songs and rework them so they're natural for me." With the help of his five daughters, Anka spent months researching music from the '80s and '90s, trying to find the songs that would work in the radical new context he proposed. The songs that made the cut included Bon Jovi's "It's My Life," Lionel Richie's "Hello" and Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven." Even more dramatic were his transformations of "Wonderwall" by Oasis, "Black Hole Sun" by Soundgarden and Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
With Rock Swings and Classic Songs, My Way, he has made a triumphant return to the recording studio, proving that his abilities as an artist and performer have hardly waned with the passage of time. Yet audiences at his shows all over the world already know that he remains an indefatigable entertainer. For Anka, getting the chance to wow a crowd is still the greatest thing of all.