In summer of 1969 the musical torch was passing to those on the stage of Woodstock: the initiation of a whole new generation.
At almost the same moment, and only a two hour commute from Woodstock, Frank Sinatra, whose record sales had been waning for months, embarked on an experiment in Manhattan that would take years to prove successful.
Sinatra, who was no stranger to the concept album, was approached by Bob Gaudio and Frankie Valli of the Four Seasons along with singer-songwriter Jake Holmes and they brought Sinatra a fully produced demo of their own concept: a specially-composed song cycle told from the point of view of a middle-aged divorcé trying to bring up his two kids as a single parent in a small town, tormented at the thought of his wife's adultery, in constant memory of the last moments of his marriage, and through it all, trying to find a way to deal with it.
A concept, a love story, called Watertown.
Hardly in tune with the Woodstock genre of a better place where better people lived a better idea, but also not in tune with the traditional Sinatra fan who grew up with the love songs of the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Sammy Cahn, Jimmy VanHeusen, Johnny Burke, Jerome Kern and Larry Hart.
This site, Watertownology, studies the album Watertown. Why it's so good. Why its sales were so dismal. Why, if more people heard it, or better, really listened to it, it could be among Sinatra's greatest. And all of these discoveries in a compendium brought to you directly from those who helped create the love story and lyrics, the music, the arrangements, the orchestration, the recording, the artwork, and reactions from notable music lovers.
Browse through at your leisure. This site, now in its eighth year, is not attempting to sell you anything. It's just to share something quite wonderful. And feel free to add your own comments anytime.
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If you'd like an intensive introduction to
the Watertown album without a lot of reading and clicking around, we suggest you click on this
special 90-minute program produced by
Guy Steele on Hawaii Public Radio.