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Paul Anka is well on his way to selling out a second show next week at the Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv, and I can't find anybody to admit that they bought a ticket. But perhaps it's better off that the 68-year-old teen idol-turned-crooning elder statesman is appreciated as a guilty pleasure.
After all, he's always had to scrap for respect, regularly adapting his talents to the fickle pop winds of change in successful attempts to fight off the 'has-been' label. When the crew-cut pop star look that spawned hits like "Diana" and "You Are My Destiny" (and later immortalized him in Israel when included in the Eskimo Lemon film soundtrack) was bludgeoned by The Beatles in the early 1960s, Anka reinvented himself as a consummate writer and producer, churning out material as diverse as the "Theme to The Tonight Show," the lyrics to Frank Sinatra's standard "My Way" and even Tom Jones's mid-70s fluff "She's a Lady."
When he wanted to go back to performing, he donned a tux and evolved into a Las Vegas showroom staple. And now, when he could be enjoying the fruits of his labors, he still in the thick of it - penning the posthumous Michael Jackson hit "This is It," touring triumphantly around the world, and releasing albums like 2005's Rock Swing, consisting of big band versions of rock songs by artists half his age.
"I don't overthink it. I continue to do what I do and try to grow," he told The Post last month. "With Rock Swing, we had the idea of taking contemporary rock songs and doing them in swing style. I didn't want it to be a joke or gimmick and I think there's a lot of integrity in it."
Indeed, you can listen to Anka's versions of Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun," Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and Oasis's "Wonderwall" with a straight face and a well-earned appreciation for Anka's craft.
Anka's 2007 followup, Classic Songs, My Way, doesn't offer such edgy morsels, but his masterful, lush renditions of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time," Duran Duran's "Ordinary World," and Billy Joel's "I Go to Extremes" overshadow the reworking of two of his signature tunes - "You Are My Destiny" with protÃ©gÃ© Michael Buble, and "My Way" with Jon Bon Jovi.
With more than 50 years of material to choose from, Anka's Tel Aviv concerts on Wednesday and Thursday will likely be akin to a Las Vegas revue, with one show stopping number after another. It's time for Paul Anka to finally get the respect he deserves - for doing things his way. Otherwise, you may have to answer to Frank.