'My Way' too morbid for patients

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The Independent Online
IT IS one of the most bizarre record bans ever ordered. The lyric 'Now the end is near/and so I face the final curtain' was deemed too morbid for hospital airwaves. And so it was that My Way, the undisputed anthem to Frank Sinatra's success, was struck from the Dudley hospital radio playlist.

Dudley and District Hospital Broadcasting claimed to be taking the advice of a national magazine for health service broadcasters when it decided the first line of the Sinatra classic was too depressing for patients.

This weekend, though, the station bowed to the wishes of its mainly middle-aged listeners. Steve Ford, the hospital disc-jockey, said that in future My Way will be played - but only with the offending line obliterated.

Mr Ford could not be contacted yesterday, but explained the policy to a local newspaper on Friday. 'We did have a complaint about the words so we took it off for a while. If people asked for any Frank Sinatra record we chose another of his hits, but My Way is popular and we have now agreed to play it. We either fade it in or broadcast the messages over the first line.'

The fate of My Way provoked a debate yesterday about which music best befits a hospital ward. Most DJs play requests only and are reluctant to interfere with tastes.

However, in the past, songs of death and misery have been excluded. Among them were the Shangri-Las Leader of the Pack, and Ricky Valance's Tell Laura I Love Her, which both feature fatal motor crashes.

Other songs, such as My Way, contain lines that have a second meaning which could distress the sick. Tony Bennett's I Left My Heart in San Francisco has been considered unsuitable for coronary patients and Andy Fairweather- Low's Wide Eyed and Legless is widely abhorred because of its possible effect on amputees.

However, hospital radio chiefs said yesterday that these cases are isolated. Peter Fielding, chairman of Parkside Hospital Radio, which broadcasts to five hospitals in west London, said: 'We used to be careful years ago, but nowadays if they want to hear them, we will play them. Let's face it, they can turn the dial and hear it on another station if they want.'

Tedd Nunn, London branch liaison officer for the Sinatra Music Society, also rushed to the song's defence. 'I have never found it depressing at all,' he said.