“The Longest Day”

“The Longest Day”

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story Behind the Song

Paul Anka
“The Longest Day”

Written and Recorded by Paul Anka

When I was about 20 or 21, I was hired as an actor in The Longest Day produced by Darryl Zanuck, who was quite a character — and I only mean that in a good way. He hired the cast of 100 stars, John Wayne, Richard Burton, Sean Connery were just a few, and the teen contingent I was a part of — Tommy Sands, Fabian — and put us all on the beaches of Normandy in the movie based on the book by Cornelius Ryan.

On one occasion at lunch, when we’d take our breaks, I asked Mr. Zanuck if I could write the music for the film. He was a great guy, with a cigarette and a hat. He said, “Who’s doing music? That’s a New York thing. No music, no love story.” This went on throughout the film. I’d repeatedly ask if he was sure he didn’t want music. He would always have the same response, “No music. No love story.” It was funny because his mistress was in the movie.

On the last day of shooting, as we were saying goodbye, I told him that I had a melody in my head and that I was going to go home and record a demo at my own expense. Once again he said, “No music. No love story.” I spent $2,000 out of my pocket and laid down the tracks for “The Longest Day” and sent it to him.

I got a telegram from Mr. Zanuck that said: “There’s going to be music — You’ve got it.” He said that only that theme will be used and asked me, “Who would you like to work with?” Maurice Jarre. “What do you want for the song?” I told him, “Just the publishing, no money.” When Twentieth Century Fox, the company putting out the film, found out that I got the publishing, they really started bugging me. Mr. Zanuck told them, “Leave him alone, I gave him my word.” And they did.

The song got an Academy Award nomination. This song and The Tonight Show theme were great for me.

“The Longest Day”

Many men came here as soldiers

Many men will pass this way

Many men will count the hours

As they live the longest day.

Many men are tired and weary

Many men are here to stay

Many men won’t see the sunset

When it ends the longest day.

The longest day, the longest day,

This will be the longest day.

Filled with hopes and filled with fears

Filled with blood and sweat and tears

Many men the mighty thousands

Many men to victory

Marching on right into battle

In the longest day in history.

Words and Music by Paul Anka. © 1961 Chrysalis Standards, Inc. Copyright Renewed. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

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