Dec 03

PAUL ANKA – “Diana”

Popular7 comments • 2,566 views

#63, 30th August 1957

This one was a big favourite of my Dad’s, so my memory of it is half affectionate and half curdled: I remember trips north to see relatives with him singing lustily along and surly me in the back seat wanting to put my Smiths tapes on.

So it’s hard for me to hear this as a teenage song, even though my Dad was a teenager when he liked it. The busy, scrabbly guitar picking and the almost-breaking voice work as markers for ‘the teenage’ and its fumbling urgency – but that’s something I know about the song, not feel. To be honest “Diana” annoys me – Anka’s “ohhhh please” sounds gormless and he sings the verses too rhythmic, too precise. Maybe I just prefer Dad singing it, ’cause the clockwork guitars work for me fine.



  1. 1
    Lena on 31 Oct 2006 #

    Oh, Paul Anka the pride of Ottawa! I think he wrote this about his babysitter.

  2. 2
    Marcello Carlin on 31 Oct 2006 #

    Seventeen years before he had a hit with “You’re Having My Baby”…

    As ever with the eximious Mr Anka, I feel duty bound to draw readers’ attention (though I’m sure you all know it already) to this extraordinary Pinteresque soliloquy:


  3. 3
    wichita lineman on 8 Oct 2008 #

    “I’m so young and you’re so old” – ever the charmer was Paul.

    This sounds as much of an r’n’r parody as Anthony Newley’s (very good) I’ve Waited So Long, even though there was babysat sincerity under the layers of brylcreem. Diana is the r’n’r sound that informed Grease, rather than the Johnny Burnette Trio, which may explain my squeamishness with it.

    Mind you, Anka’s appropriately titled Crazy Love from ’58 is so hysterically hiccuped it comes out the other side of parody, like the early Gary Glitter hits, and is quite brilliant. GG, maybe not coincidentally, later covered Anka’s Lonely Boy.

    The man himself is, as DJP has reminded us, really quite unpleasant.

    I remember in the early 80s, when trips to the pub became a regular event, the Portrait Of A Legend series was often on when I got home. It opened with a stentorian American voice – “Portrait of a legend…. this week, the Bee Gees” – followed by an innocuous snipped quote from the programme – “and Saturday Night Fever was quite successful, you see”.

    The quote that followed “Portrait of a legend… this week, Paul Anka” was a 40-something Anka smirking “Yeeeahhh, I guess you could call me a legend.”

    The following half hour was on a similar level of arrogant, accidental hilarity. His ashen-faced horror at the British Invasion: “All of a sudden, I was lost in this wall-to-wall wave of rock music”

    It’s etched in my memory 25 years later. Anyone got any Portraits Of A Legend on tape?

  4. 4
    Billy Smart on 20 Apr 2009 #

    Light entertainment watch: Paul Anka has continued to ply his charm in UK television studios in the 21st century;

    DES O’CONNOR TONIGHT: with Paul Anka, Sharon Gless, Brian Conley, Frank Bruno, Michael Bolton (1992)

    PARKINSON: with David Jason, Ardal O’Hanlon, Paul Anka (2006)

    PARKINSON: with Ricky Hatton, Paul Anka, Michael Winner (2007)

    THIS IS… TOM JONES: with The Mike Sammes Singers, The Norman Maen Dancers, Sue & Sonny, Paul Anka, George Kirby, Joni Mitchell (1970)

    VARIETY SHOW: The Paul Anka Show (1962)

    However, most of his performances from his heyday don’t survive;

    THE BEAT ROOM: with Paul Anka, Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, The Gamblers, Lancastrians, Julie Grant (1965)

    CHAMPAGNE ON ICE: with Paul Anka, The Hollies, Dagmar Koller (1970)

    DRUMBEAT: with The Barry Sisters, Danny Williams, Paul Anka (1959)

    THE ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK SHOW: with The Irving Davies Dancers, The Mike Sammes Singers, Jack Parnell and his Orchestra, Paul Anka, Millicent Martin, Phil Silvers, Dana Valery (1970)

    INTERNATIONAL CABARET: with Kenneth Williams, Paul Anka, Two Perrards, Heidi Brahl, Gin Lautrec (1966)

    THE JOHN DAVIDSON SHOW: with Mireille Mathieu, Rich Little, Aimi MacDonald, Paul Anka (1969)

    SPOTLIGHT: with Benny Hill, Paul Anka, Lana Cantrell, Patricia Hayes, Jeremy Hawk, Annette Andre, Tom Chatto, Ronnie Brody, Mark Colleano, The Lionel Blair Dancers (1968)

    SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE LONDON PALLADIUM (VAL PARNELL’S …..): with Dickie Henderson, Janet Blair, Paul Anka (1957)

    SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE LONDON PALLADIUM (VAL PARNELL’S …..): with The Tiller Girls, Jack Parnell and his Orchestra, The Mike Sammes Singers, Larry Grayson, Paul Anka, Ronnie Brody, Black Theatre Of Prague (1973)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Brian Matthew, Cilla Black, The Hollies, The Riot Squad, Paul Anka, Del Shannon (1965)

    THIS IS… TOM JONES: with Paul Anka, Georgia Brown, George Carlin, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Mary Hopkin (1969)

    THIS IS… TOM JONES: with The Mike Sammes Singers, The Norman Maen Dancers, Sue & Sonny, Paul Anka, Frank Gorshin, Dusty Springfield (1971)

  5. 5
    hectorthebat on 4 Feb 2014 #

    Critic watch: This song appeared on the following ‘best-of’ lists:

    1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010)
    Bob Merserau (Canada) – The Top 100 Canadian Singles of All Time (2010) 94
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    BBC (UK) – Pop on Trial, Top 50 Songs from the 1950s (2008)
    Zig Zag (UK) – Gillett & Frith’s Hot 100 Singles (1975)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)

  6. 6
    chrisew71 on 28 Mar 2018 #

    Such a weird song. I kind of like it in an odd way. At least, when it used to turn up on oldies stations, it was so weird it broke up the monotony a little. The sing songy verses, the wailing chorus, the weird horn that drones in… One of those productions that assumed rock & roll meant “throw a bunch of crap in the mix and sing as if your life depended on it”.

  7. 7
    Gareth Parker on 9 Jun 2021 #

    I would go up to a 7/10 for Paul.

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