“(You Are) My Way Of Life” (Bert Kaempfert/Herbert Rehbein/Carl Sigman)

Three months after Bert Kaempfert recorded his version of the title track to his album My Way of Life in April 1968, singer Frank Sinatra recorded “(You Are) My Way of Life.” The Sinatra single was issued the following month and appeared later that year on the singer’s album Cycles – an album whose sessions were apparently attended by George Harrison and his girlfriend at the time, Patti Boyd.

“My Way of Life” is the third of four Kaempfert compositions Sinatra recorded and the third and final one released as a single. Sinatra took the song to number 64 on the Hot 100, while it reached number three on the Easy Listening chart. It is also the second Kaempfert composition Sinatra recorded with lyrics by Carl Sigman.

Don Costa arranges Sinatra’s version in the style of a James Bond theme, cushioned by a rock-a-bye-baby harpsichord (curiously suggesting the score to the soon-to-be ex-Mrs. Sinatra’s film Rosemary’s Baby) and highlighted by lovely swells of strings and foghorn tropes, all hinting at emotions adrift on a dark sea of hopeless love. The arranger brings a similar dark-water flourish to “Rain in My Heart,” another hit single from Cycles.

Like Sigman’s lyric for “The World We Knew,” the words to “My Way of Life” dance elegantly, as they trip the light fantastic off the tongue of this fabulous crooner. But the melancholy romanticism of the former has evolved here into a sort of desperate obsession in the latter that reads oddly – if not frighteningly – in the first decades of the 21st century.

Sample, for instance, this single stanza: “Never let you out my sight, be it day, be it night / You belong to me, that’s the way it has to be, wrong or right.” The lyric only occasionally references the object of the song’s affection, but in a way of a singularly-desired possession: “Gotta have you near all the time, with your dreams wrapped in mine.”

It’s surely more the thinking of a stalker or a domestic abuser than a lover.

Kaempfert released his instrumental version of “My Way of Life” the month after Sinatra’s cover was issued, but the instrumental only reached number 17 on the Easy Listening chart.

Sinatra later recorded Kaempfert’s “You Turned My World Around” – with lyrics by Kim “Bette Davis Eyes” Carne and husband Dick Ellingson – a song that originally appeared as an instrumental on Kaempfert’s 1973 album Fabulous Fifties…And New Delights (released in Europe as Yesterday and Today). Like the previous three “Kaempfert” compositions Sinatra covered, “You Turned My World Around” has the distinct flavor of Herbert Rehbein’s compositional style – while Kaempfert gets the official credit even so.

“My Way of Life” was also recorded in 1969 by British singer Shirley Bassey, in an arrangement by American wunderkind Artie Butler. Bassey had previously recorded Kaempfert’s “Strangers in the Night” in 1966. Her version of “My Way of Life” was first featured on the album Does Anybody Miss Me (1969) and, while it was never released as a single, it factored again on Live at Talk of the Town (1970).

This version of the song is a little more dramatic than Sinatra’s laconic take. But it is Ms. Bassey’s “My Way of Life” that was included on the 2002 compilation The Bert Kaempfert Story: A Musical Biography – and is likely the version best-remembered today.

“My Way of Life” was also recorded in Hamburg as “Es gibt nur einen Weg” (There is Only One Way) by Ivo Robić in 1968, with Bert Kaempfert’s orchestra, and – as an instrumental – by composer Herbert Rehbein on his final American record …And So To Bed (The Love Music of Bert Kaempfert) (1969).