Songwriter Carl D’Errico (left) wrote the 1965 hit song, “It’s My Life,” performed by The Animals (right), as well as Bruce Springsteen and many other artists.

The unlikely spiritual journey of a 1960s hitmaker Carl D’Errico, whose songs have been performed and recorded by The Animals, Neil Diamond, the Yardbirds, Gene Pitney, and Bruce Springsteen, among others.

The 1965 hit song “It’s My Life,” performed by the Animals, expressed the angst of a generation, inspiring artists like Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi. It’s currently on the bestselling soundtrack of Ken Burns’ acclaimed documentary, “The Vietnam War,” underscoring its staying power. But for Carl D’Errico, the song’s composer, “It’s My Life” is a deeply personal statement that reflects a crucial step on his journey from despair to Christian hope.

Now, for the first time, the gifted Catholic songwriter has decided to tell his story.

Carl’s world

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Carl’s path to success was as challenging as it was unexpected. Although his parents enjoyed popular music, and encouraged him to play the piano, they never saw it as a means to earn a living. His father—a police officer and practical man—wanted his son to become an engineer, the rising new profession at the time.

Hesitant, but knowing he needed a good job, Carl accepted a scholarship from Philadelphia’s Drexel University to become an engineer; but he had to drop out after the sudden, tragic death of his father, as his mother had no one to support her. In those days, even many police widows didn’t receive their husbands’ pensions, and Carl’s two older sisters were already out of the house, married, with families of their own. Carl worked hard to make sure his mom was provided for—digging ditches and sweeping floors—and then made the biggest decision of his young life: to become a professional songwriter. It had always been his dream, even when he was studying to become an engineer, but he was slow to pursue it, because it was such a risk. “In those days, it just wasn’t considered realistic for someone like myself to pin all my hopes on becoming a composer, since I’d be entering a very unstable profession,” he said.

Once that decision was made, Carl was filled with excitement, though he didn’t know where to begin. “I wound up enrolling at Temple University, which didn’t have a very big musical school, but I reasoned it was better than engineering, so I received a degree in musical education there,” he explained.

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