Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Ware, Evan. “Food for Thought: On Sid Vicious’s Cannibalization of ‘My Way.’” In Hardcore, Punk, and Other Junk: Aggressive Sounds in Contemporary Music, ed. Eric James Abbey and Colin Helb, 1-20. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014.

Sid Vicious’s cover of Frank Sinatra’s My Way from the film The Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle (Julien Temple, 1980) is a hyper-aggressive take on the original that reveals gaps in how cover songs are categorized and understood. Vicious’s cover makes changes to Sinatra’s original in several domains. The lyrics are changed to be about acts of violence and disparaging references to homosexuality, subverting the triumphalism of the original. Vicious’s performance is split into two sections, a “crooner” section in which Vicious mocks the physical and vocal mannerisms of Sinatra and a “punk” section in which Vicious adopts his usual persona. Instead of Sinatra’s musical climax, Vicious enacts a performative climax, gradually adopting a more extreme vocal style until he screams the last chorus, draws a gun, and fires into the crowd. The extent to which Vicious aggressively contradicts Sinatra’s songs is best understood as a process of cannibalizing rather than parody. The transgression and otherness associated with cannibalization captures the way Vicious “eats up” Sinatra’s song and transforms it into an act of violence.

Works: Sid Vicious: My Way (4-16).

Sources: Frank Sinatra: My Way (4-16).

Index Classifications: 1900s, Popular

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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