My Way — Or Else

In 1969, Frank Sinatra released My Way, one of the most recognizable songs ever recorded.  It peaked at #27 in the U.S. but has maintained popularity in the decades since.  It has also become one of the most covered songs ever as well — Elvis Presley and the Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious headline a list of people who have brought their own renditions of My Way to the world.   Unsurprisingly, My Way‘s popularity has traveled the globe.  For better or for worse,My Way has become a staple at karaoke bars, with mixed results: some amateur performances are good, some are bad, and others?

Fatal.  At least in the Philippines.

In 2007, 29 year-old Romi Baligula learned this the hard way.  He took to a karaoke machine in a bar in San Mateo, Philippines, and began singing My Way, his way.  His way, unfortunately, was out of tune, and 43 year-old security guard Robilito Ortego took exception, demanding that Baligula stop signing.  Baligula ignored Ortega’s warning; Ortego took out his pistol and shot Baligula in the chest, killing him instantly.

Incredibly, this is not the only known murder involving My Way and a karaoke bar in the Philippines.   According to the New York Times, news agencies in the Philippines know of at least a half-dozen such attacks since 2000, going so far as to dub the trend “My Way Killings.”  The exact number of assaults — fatal or otherwise — is unknown, but the effect is real.

What’s causing the aggression?  A mix of theories abound, but no answers.  Some believe it to be mere coincidence; a popular song in an environment with a lot of machismo, violence, and illegal weapons.  Others think that My Way‘s lyrics — which deal with death and reflections upon a life of triumph — themselves have unique potential to enrage the listener.  Regardless, many karaoke bars in the nation no longer offer the song, and those that do find a customer-base which engages in self-censorship, to avoid potential harm from a displeased fellow patron in the audience.

Bonus fact: Frank Sinatra never missed an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generationaccording to Patrick Stewart, who played Captain Jean-Luc Picard on the show.   Brent Spiner, who played the android Data on the show, later recorded a tribute album to Sinatra, titled Ol’ Yellow Eyes is Back.  The album’s title is a reference to Sinatra’s album Ol’ Blue Eyes is Backand Data’s yellow eyes from the show.

Related:  Lady Blue Eyes: My Life With Frank, by Barbara Sinatra, Frank’s widow. It is upcoming, to be released on May 31st as a hardcover, on Kindle, and as an audio book.  Also, new copies of Ol’ Yellow Eyes is Back are a collectible among Star Trek fans, running over $250.

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