Author Ed O'Brien's works include "Sinatra 101" and "Sinatra: The Man and His Music – The Recording Artistry of Francis Albert Sinatra 1939-1992" along with several other books. His work can be seen throughout the Watertownology site.
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WATERTOWNOLOGY:  When and how was your first association with Frank Sinatra?
 
Ed O'Brien: I became a devoted Sinatra admirer in 1957. My first book on his career was published in 1980, since then there have been four more books published and a fifth one that is finished. The latter is made up of interviews with many of the musicians associated with Sinatra through the years.

Brian Noe: Growing up in the 1960s, Sinatra's music was everywhere. I remember a lot of the Reprise-era stuff on the radio as a kid, and of course Sinatra's appearances on the Dean Martin TV shows. In our household, there was a lot of Big Band music. My mom wasn't a Sinatra fan, but she taught me to appreciate the great music and singers.

Ed O'Brien: I have also interviewed arrangers, engineers, songwriters and a few friends including his trusted valet. I have been able to document many performances that were forgotten about ages ago. I love the research aspect of the work.

James Rocco: I was about 12 years old. At the time I had been doing a lot of "child" jingle singing—1 A Day Vitamins, Burger King, well you get the idea. I also sang with a group of kids led by Dick Williams (Andy's brother who was part of the great vocal group The Williams Brothers.) Somehow all of that, led me to the gig on "Watertown." My singing partner was a girl named Diane Dell (Come to think of it, we were both Italian. Maybe that was a prerequisite?) Diane and I were keen on each other at the time and spent a lot of hours singing together in studios. I remember being blown away that we had been asked to do the album and was very excited about getting to the studio.  When we showed up there was no Sinatra in site but OMG Bob G and Frankie Valli in the flesh. I may have been more excited about that but don't tell Sinatra.

Brian Noe: In the 1970s I worked in radio for a while, and a couple of the older guys at the station introduced me to a wide range of Jazz and Standards that I hadn't really paid attention to before. This included Sinatra, of course, and I remember being particularly knocked out by "There Used To Be A Ballpark" from "Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back." Still, I didn't quite dive into his music at that point. I had a vague notion that he has a special place in American music, but had no idea what it was. The Blake Edwards film "S.O.B." in the early 80s put the idea in my head that maybe I should give Sinatra another listen. William Holden had a line about playing the jukebox. "Sinatra. $6 worth of Sinatra." I know it sounds odd, but that's when I started really opening my ears. After being a casual listener for a while, I started buying compilations and started reading about his career. Then it was really Mark Sudock's excellent radio show "The Sinatra Songbook" that kicked my fanaticism into high gear.

Guy Steele: My father and I used to watch football games on television every Sunday.  One afternoon during a game they ran a commercial for Dutch Masters Cigars.  It featured the men on the cigar box singing “When You’re Smiling” in barbershop-quartet harmony.  It was so beautiful that I said to myself, “I’d like to get that song someday!” Years later during my college days in 1974 I was in a record store and came across Sinatra’s Capitol album “Round #1.”  Of the twenty songs, the only one I knew was “When You’re Smiling.”  As a poor college student, I agonized for about half an hour on whether or not I should shell out $7.98 for a double LP to obtain just one song.  Accepting the risk, I took the album back to my dorm room and put it on the turntable. After playing the four sides and only half-listening to them (thinking it was “fuddy-duddy” music) , I put the album away with the intention of never playing it again.  It was then that a voice inside my head said, “Shame on you!  You paid all that money and never even listened to the music!  Listen to it again, and if you still don’t like it, fine.  But listen to it!”  So I played the album again and concentrated on what Sinatra was singing and the orchestra was playing.  The first track on side one was “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.”  When it ended I said to myself, “That’s the greatest song I’ve ever heard!”  The second track was “I Get A Kick Out Of You.”  And that was great!  The third song was “Angel Eyes,” and that was great!  When I’d finished listening to all four sides I was a changed man.  I started on a quest to collect everything Sinatra had recorded.  My peers thought I was strange and laughed at me, and as a DJ on my college radio station, I played a lot of Sinatra while everybody else played mostly hard rock music.  I took a lot of flak for that, but I didn’t care.  I thought Sinatra’s music was the greatest!                     

Mark Sudock: I was twelve or thirteen. Mom owned a copy of Frank's "Songs for Swingin' Lovers." The album was a game changer in that the Sinatra-Nelson Riddle collaboration revolutionized forever the fashion by which the American Popular Songbook would be considered and performed. The music chose me. Not the other way around. Natural selection, I like to think. Result? While my peers were responding to the music of Judy Collins and Cat Stevens, I was digging into Sinatra's body of work. The learning and discovery has never stopped.

Ed O'Brien: There is so much to learn in a career that spanned seven decades.

Brian Noe: There wasn't really a single moment when I realized I was a Sinatra fan. It kind of crept up on me.

John Robert Brown: I was just hitting my teen years when one night while in bed I could hear Sinatra's "No One Cares" album coming from our living room. I didn't really comprehend the full meaning of the lyrics, but I was blown away by the voice singing them. For a kid to like Sinatra in 1960 was to say the least unusual. I didn't care.


WATERTOWNOLOGY: When you first heard the Watertown album, what were your initial impressions? On the music itself? On Frank's 1969 voice? On Sinatra's changing role in a Woodstock world?

Ed O'Brien: I first heard the single with the title track and "I Would Be In Love Anyway." It had me totally baffled. When I sat down and listened to the complete album, it blew me away. Have loved it ever since. Jake Holmes told me Frank wanted a raw sound for the album. Wanted to convey the sadness and deep emotional hurt of the narrator.

James Rocco: I was excited when I first heard it and also self-conscious. I knew it would be around for a long time and I didn't quite get what the album meant. I knew it was a big departure for Frank Sinatra. It didn't sound like Come Fly With Me or That's Life. There was a poetry to the album that struck me. I knew it was a serious and important work. I cried when I heard the music. It felt like so many levels of generations coming together. Musically, Sinatra, Bob and Jake and then Diane and me popping in for a cameo. There were also the generations in the story. Was the man older than the woman by a few years?  I felt the loss, the need, the growth that Jake and Bob were exploring. It opened my eyes to the possibility that you don't always get what you want. I'm not even sure you always get what you need but that does sounds like a good concept.

Mark Sudock: I can still see "Watertown" in the Sinatra bin at Wallach's Music City, the Southern California predecessor to Tower Records. My first impression was of the artwork. It was distinctive among the Sinatra album covers that I had known. My first impression was one of concern. This, I imagined, would be somehow different. Indeed, it was not what I expected at all. Being around 17 years of age, the subject matter was beyond me. It was Jover my head. I was not critical of Sinatra's vocal performance and I wasn't sophisticated enough to consider the relative value of the material in a Woodstock world or any other context. I didn't know what to make of it all. But in the years hence, I've wondered if the promotion guys at Reprise Records were similarly challenged with respect to assembling an effective marketing strategy for Frank's then-latest endeavor.

Brian Noe: I really hated this album the first time I heard it. Honestly. But many hard-core Sinatra fanatics (yourself included) kept mentioning it as one of their favorites, so I figured I was missing something. Once I took some serious time with it, I realized that I hadn't been listening to the music. I'd been pigeonholing it. "Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. 1969. Glen Campbell sounding schmaltz. Done that." So when I truly opened my ears, and in particular started listening to his voice, it absolutely broke my heart - it was so haunting and sad and beautiful. Probably I had to be a certain age to understand what was going on in the story as well.

John Robert Brown: I was living out in California with my first wife, and the two of us were splitting up. Even though the circumstances were totally different, we didnt have kids and all, but I totally related to the emotions involved with a relationship coming to a final ending. Add my love for Sinatra, and Watertown became my own theme during that time.

Guy Steele: When I saw the album cover, I thought, “What on earth is this?”  I purchased it on faith thinking, “If it’s Sinatra, it’s got to be good!” 
After hearing Watertown for the first time, I realized that it was unlike any other album Sinatra had ever recorded.  He certainly wasn’t swinging, and there were no big lush violin backgrounds.  It was so different that I didn’t know what to think of it at first.  However, after listening to it several times, it gradually grew on me.  I loved the story Sinatra told, and the songs were beautifully written and orchestrated.  Sinatra’s voice in 1969 sounded smooth, rich and warm, although on Watertown he opted for a raw sound which helped communicate the despair of the character in the story.  Sinatra always wanted to sound contemporary, and I admired his attempts to achieve this in 1969 with My Way, A Man Alone, Watertown, and the Jobim recordings.  Changing with the times was why Sinatra lasted as long as he did, while many of his peers fell by the wayside.                

Ed O'Brien: Personally, I very much like the Sinatra 69 sound. Frank struggled with the  dramatic changes that took place in the late '60s I think he was misguided with some of the recordings done at the time. The iconic works of Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell and others really didn't fit the Sinatrasound at all. And he knew it. That is what makes "Watertown" so damn good. The concept and the story told with such powerful lyrics fit him like a glove. Bob Gaudio told me Frank loved the project.

James Rocco: He sounds smooth and appropriately tired by the relationship. He's heartbreaking. Frank Sinatra is "the man". No one interprets lyrics and melody like him. The phrasing is unbelievable. Sinatra represented the American dream for my parent's generation. In 1969, I was on the young side of a generation that was rebelling while people like Sinatra were swinging. Looking back I think I felt that generation was out of sync with the political needs of our country. Now that I'm a man of a certain age, I realize it's OK to swing after you've fought the good fight. I'm happy to say—I was a rebel who also experienced style and class through Sinatra. I bet a lot of my contemporaries would say a similar thing.

Brian Noe: After listening and re-listening, I found myself humming parts of the orchestration while driving or puttering around the house. That's when I realized how cool the arrangements were. I defy anyone to listen to this album exclusively for three days without it getting totally under their skin. There's a lot that has already been said and written about how this album fits in (or doesn't) with what was going on in the larger cultural context of the age. I can't really comment on that, because that's not what the album is about for me.


WATERTOWNOLOGY: Jake Holmes, Bob Gaudio, and Charles Calello have all made comments regarding Watertown. Are there are comments you would like to elaborate upon?

Ed O'Brien: My liner notes and interviews (found within this site) pretty much cover what I had to say.

Brian Noe: What strikes me most is how much these guys were into Sinatra. Calello tells that great story about being dumbstruck upon first meeting him in the studio. That pretty much says it all.

Guy Steele: The songs on Watertown are of extremely high quality, and the depth of feeling placed within them by Gaudio and Holmes who were only in their late twenties at the time is amazing.   

James Rocco: Sinatra is an artist. At all phases in his career he took chances. Expressing himself and expressing the emotional needs of people through music. I think the album was a surprise. It was so impressionistic—it was like a series of sound bites of emotional wounds. I'm not sure people were ready for that. Where was "up, down and over and out?" Clearly Frank was ready to paint with this new paintbrush.


WATERTOWNOLOGY: In everything we've read about Watertown, no one seems to offer up a solid explanation of why "Lady Day" was not included on the first release, that in fact it wasn't heard until the CD reissue 25 years later. Why do you suppose they left it off?

Ed O'Brien: Charles Calello gave me the exact reason and it is very funny. Frank laid down that track on 8-25-69. Listening to the final playback, he turned to Bob and Jake and announced that the song was a perfect tribute to the great Billie Holiday. Calello told me neither man was that familiar with her, but they immediately agreed. Frank suggested they put it aside and he would come back to it at a later date. Reprise didn't know they had that recording when the CD issue was in the works. I convinced them to remaster it and give the song its proper due in the "Watertown" story.

Mark Sudock: On this point, I'd offer a solid guess. It is my belief that the programmer in this singer thought "Lady Day" had no place among the titles that clearly advanced the story at-hand. My guess is that he simply elected to save it for the right occasion.

Guy Steele: When I interviewed Bob Gaudio and Jake Holmes for my radio show on Watertown, they both told me that “Lady Day” was never intended for Watertown.  Gaudio said, “That was a song, as I remember, that Jake and I just fell upon, it just worked, it just came out one day.  We loved it to death, but we, at some point, and so did Frank, realized it all of a sudden put us back into writing songs for Frank Sinatra as opposed to a concept album.  We didn’t see where it fit.  It didn’t work for us.  Frank was fine with that.  He said, ‘Why not?’ and we explained, and he was very comfortable with that.”  Holmes said, “It wasn’t supposed to be the last song on the album, it was supposed to have nothing to do with the album.  That ended up on the CD.  The original album didn’t have that.  That was an extra that we did for him, and I can’t remember why.  Bob came back and he said something about ‘Frank wants another song for something,’ and I don’t know what it was.  I’m not sure if it was his idea that he wanted a tribute to Billie Holiday or whether it was our idea, I don’t know now, I can’t remember.  But that was an extra song, that was not supposed to be on the album, it had nothing to do with the album, really.  It had to do with a tribute to Billie Holiday.  As a writer, I would’ve never put that on the album because I didn’t think it fit.  The last song on the album is “The Train” and that’s the story.  What would that song be there for?  It wasn’t part of the story.”                              


James Rocco: I think "Lady Day" is a bit out of the sadness of the album. It is a pop song amidst a heart wrenching canon of song. It just doesn't feel as jagged to me.

John Robert Brown: Though I think of it as the story's epilogue, after all, Jake wrote it as such, playing it at the end seems anti-climactic. It's a great song...but in a whole other dimension as it relates to Elizabeth.


WATERTOWNOLOGY: Sinatra supposedly was not happy with his singing in 1969 and in fact made few public appearances around this time. Do you think this is why he abandoned the "Watertown"  TV project, or would it have been something else?

Mark Sudock: Sinatra had good instincts about the selection of his material and he knew it. Had he not believed in the merit of the work, "Watertown" would have never been recorded. While I never knew the official explanation for opting out of the TV project, my guess is that he became distracted or disinterested in pursuing a more ambitious undertaking. As to overall quality of Sinatra's voice in this period, my sense is that Sinatra was in solid vocal form up to the point of his self-imposed retirement.

Brian Noe:
I don't know about that, but I believe this is actually one of the cool things about this album. There's a hint of frailty, for lack of a better word. Maybe self-doubt. It's perfect, given the emotional context of the songs.

Guy Steele: I’m surprised that Sinatra wasn’t happy with his singing in 1969....I think it was terrific!  The timbre, richness, and quality of his voice was wonderful, and his recordings that year were outstanding!  He was in excellent form during the Jobim sessions, and his My Way album was so good it became a gold record.  I love his interpretation of the Rod McKuen songs on A Man Alone, and he does a masterful job on Watertown.  However, Sinatra had the standards of Zeus, and maybe he felt his performances weren’t up to par.  Perhaps the passing of his father in January had left him dispirited.  He already had a television special planned for November, and it could be that he couldn’t summon up the energy or interest to do another one.  It’s a shame he didn’t go through with it.  In my mind I can see Sinatra singing the songs on the screen with the backdrops laid out similarly to Our Town in 1955.  Jake Holmes suggested that Sinatra change his image and take off his toupee, grow a beard, and become the character in the story, re-identifying himself on a completely different level.  Sinatra declined.  It could have been his greatest television effort ever.    

Ed O'Brien: Bob Gaudio told me Frank canceled the TV special for two reasons: 1. He wasn't happy with how inconsistent his voice had become. You can hear exactly why he had such strong reservations on the CBS-TV special "Sinatra 69." 2. He wasn't comfortable with the way he looked. There had been some work done on his hair that necessitated the wearing of rather large wigs. Take a look at the TV special mentioned above and/or the concert at the Royal Festival Hall in 1970.

James Rocco: I think Sinatra was a very smart and savy artist as well as a great business man. He knew the album hadn't clicked. Although everything he did on the album is filled with technique and artistry—I'm guessing he knew his fans expected a less serrated musical approach.


WATERTOWNOLOGY: Do you think Watertown could today be a viable screenplay, using Sinatra's recordings as backdrops supporting a modern cast?

James Rocco: I think it could be a very moody movie. In the hands of the right director it could capture a moment in time. Maybe set it in 1969. The man grew up expecting the American "Leave It To Beaver" dream. At first the woman bought into that dream but then saw what was going on around her (Woodstock was 2 hours from Watertown) and started exploring a different path. Once you stray from the path it is very easy to go astray. Neither one is wrong, they just changed. Change happens to everyone and yet we are rarely ready for it.

Mark Sudock: The story is contemporary enough. Indeed, it's timeless. Sadly, though, I feel that it would not succeed with Sinatra's soundtrack for support. Frank's superb performance is simply out of step with the record-buying consciousness of today.But in its present context, "Watertown" is as significant as any Sinatra theme album. The businessman in Sinatra appreciated that, in the late sixties, tastes in music had changed. It is my belief that Frank pursued this project because he respected the material and its potential to aid in reaching younger listeners. I believe he enjoyed the fact that "Watertown" was unlike anything he had recorded before.  Yet, as unique as the project is, as foreign as it may seem to many Sinatra fans, an element that I discovered only recently, forever ties the project to the man and his recorded legacy. The observation? Look at the back cover of the "Watertown" LP. Look closely. It is that lonely lamppost, realized late at night, when the streets are damp and the sense of "aloneness" is great. Time and again, the character invading this setting is one that Sinatra the actor and singer captured in song as no other achieved. That lamppost punctuates the setting on no less than five album covers, "Songs for Young Lovers", "In the Wee Small Hours", "Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely" and, yes, "Watertown." New audiences may have emerged. Tastes in music may have evolved. But emotions are constant. That lamppost is the thread that connects these five albums to the experience of love lost and to the artist to conveyed that mood better than anyone, Frank Sinatra.

Ed O'Brien: No. I think it should be allowed to stand on its own.

Brian Noe: I'd love to see it as a Broadway musical. :)

JohnRobertBrown: I'm a lover of the old radio shows – Sherlock Holmes, The Shadow, Dragnet. You don't need a camera to envision the scenarios, your mind paints unique and interesting scenes for you. That's how I feel about Watertown. I see the town, the coffee shop, the dining room table, the teddy bears and dolls, and the lone man standing in the rain watching a train disappear. It doesn't need a screenplay. It is as telling and deep as any Puccini opera.

Guy Steele: Like John, I enjoy old-time radio dramas, and Sinatra’s singing conjures up vivid images in my mind that’d be difficult to duplicate on the screen.  It’d be possible if you chose the right director and put a lot of thought into selecting the right actors to play the parts.  It should be filmed on location in Watertown for maximum effect.  However, if the Watertown of today is vastly different from the one sung about by Sinatra in 1969, perhaps it could work as a period piece.  I think it would have worked best if it was filmed in 1969 as a major motion picture with Sinatra playing the lead role.                


 

In 1969, young Jamie Alexander (click on picture) made his recording debut singing a few lines on "Watertown." Now known as James Rocco, he is currently the Vice President  of Programming and Producing Artistic Director of The Ordway Center for Performing Arts, in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Guy Steele is a financial advisor with Edward Jones in Kailua, Hawaii.  Since 1998 he has produced SINATRA:  THE MAN AND THE MUSIC on Hawaii Public Radio. This weekly program features Sinatra’s recordings, concerts, radio and television appearances, and interviews.
Several Sinatra experts in their own right have graciously agreed to add light and deeper understanding to the Watertown album in this virtual roundtable discussion.
Brian Noe is a writer and new media producer who lives at the southern terminus of the Chicago Southland - Kankakee, Illinois, USA. He began a career in broadcasting at the age of 16, and among many artistic projects has produced "The Frank Truth."

 


WATERTOWNOLOGY: Which of the Watertown songs do you think is the strongest? None of them became popular singles, though we do think a couple could have. Which ones?

Guy Steele: I love “Michael and Peter” and the line “John Henry came to cut the lawn, again he asked me where you’d gone.”  “Elizabeth” is wonderful, and “What A Funny Girl (You Used To Be)” is also one of my favorites.  I love the line “You’d fall for lines so easily, whatever they were selling you’d buy three.”  Great songwriting and interpretation by Sinatra.

Brian Noe: "I Would Be In Love Anyway" and "What A Funny Girl You Used To Be" would be high on the list. As far as just killer songs, not necessarily hit singles, "Goodbye" and "Michael & Peter" are among my favorites. It's hard for me to take any of these songs out of the context of the album though.

Ed O'Brien: "Michael And Peter" is a tour de force by Sinatra. The protagonist is writing a letter to the woman who has abandoned him and their children. He is trying desperately to hold on to his emotional center and write a calm, coherent plea to her. The everyman in this heartbreaking story cannot do it. The center won't hold. Sinatra, the actor, conveys the pain, desperationand utter despair of this man. Bob Gaudio told me Frank wasn't all that concerned about the commercial success of the project. It is the truest concept work ever done by Frank. I don't think any of the songs were written with an eye on hit singles.

James Rocco: I love "Elizabeth" and "What A Funny Girl." I think "The Train" could have been a hit. It feels like it was a hit to me. There's so much character in that song and it is so multi layered. There's hope and again loss. (James did not mention the song, "She Says", on which he sang.)

John Robert Brown: Musically, I agree with Ed and Guy on this one. Michael and Peter is so well sung, and I love the line about John Henry who cuts their lawn and asks where Elizabeth has gone: Can't tell you all the times he's been told, but he's so old.



WATERTOWNOLOGY: The original final song, "The Train," is said to bring many listeners to tears. Did you feel the same kind of emotions?

Ed O'Brien: I love the tempo. Sinatra gives such a sense of urgency to every word. The song begins with such glorious anticipation. She is coming home and life will be good again. The middle section covers what will happen after the reconciliation and then Holmes employs the rain as the perfect metaphor for the shocking denouement: she has not come home and the train is moving on. Jake told me the key to their relationship was revealed in this song:"But the letters still are lying in the drawers." He never told her how dear she was to him.

Mark Sudock: Absolutely. The plight, hope and ultimate disappointment of this tale is eloquently wrapped-up with "The Train". I can imagine him saying, "This is how the story ends. This song plays and we're done."

James Rocco: Yes—as I said earlier, when I first heard the album I cried. Growth after the heartbreak. It seemed perfect for an emotional teen in the early 70s.

Guy Steele: Yes.  The first time I heard “The Train” I was anticipating a happy ending, and I was shocked and extremely disappointed when Elizabeth didn’t show up.  It brought back the times in my life when others had disappointed me in similar fashion and turned my plans to dust.      

John Robert Brown: When I first heard The Train, the beginning lyrics filled me with hope, wonder and optimism, maybe, just maybe she is coming back and they can have that summer cottage and a life as a family again (it conjures up Sinatra's incredible 1959 recording of A Cottage For Sale). But as the song progresses, it becomes clear that they are empty hopes, and the song ends with all of us standing in the heavy rain.


WATERTOWNOLOGY: If you were the exec producer of Watertown back in 1969, what would you have done to promote it? Would you have delayed its release until the screenplay could be produced?

Ed O'Brien: Bob Gaudio summed up the problem with the entire project, "It needed the TV special."

James Rocco: I would have waited until the entire project was in place. Meaning—a TV special and/or a film. The album comments on a complicated story. I always felt there was so much more to learn. The album paints a picture but it asks the audience to accept Sinatra in a new light—here he is a poetic folk singer. It must have been difficult to get past that and hear the material.

Guy Steele: Of course, with the benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to see what needed to be done:  I would have planned a television special, promoted it like crazy, and released the album afterwards.  Also, I would have had Sinatra talk to the press, appear on all of the television talk shows, and speak to the DJs in all of the major radio markets.               

John Robert Brown: I would have shelved the album and kept it under wraps hoping that in time the musical mood of this nation would shift to more thoughtful attitudes and more understanding of families splitting. It indeed did shift as the boomers matured a little. And finally after disco died, say about the time Reagan became President, I'd "unearth" this rare treasure and promote the hell out of it, definitely marketing it as a love story so many more can relate to...for by then it was no longer completely untenable to contemplate a mom leaving her kids behind. Better yet, it was even more acceptable to hear the voice of Sinatra against electric guitars and a rock beat. Now, isn't 20/20 hindsight just grand?


WATERTOWNOLOGY: Some people say this was Sinatra's last true concept album, though "She Shot Me Down" may still qualify. Of all his concept albums, how would you rank them?

Ed O'Brien: My number one pick would be "Wee Small Hours." The album contains 16 exquisite songs of unrequited love. Easily the finest of all his concept work. Other favorites include "Close To You," "Songs For Young Lovers/Swing Easy," "Swingin' Brass," "Swingin' Lovers," "Swingin' Affair," 'Point Of No Return," "Moonlight Sinatra" and both Jobim albums.

James Rocco: #1 "Only The Lonely," #2 "Come Fly With Me," #3 " September of My Years," #4 "She Shot Me Down" (I am a sucker for "Good Thing Going"),
#5 "Wee Small Hours."

John Robert Brown: #1 "Only The Lonely," #2 "No One Cares," #3 "Where Are You," #4" Wee Small Hours," #5 "Close To You," #6 "All Alone," #7 "September Of My Years," #8 "Moonlight Sinatra," and #9 "Watertown." Now I know what I need for that desert island.

Guy Steele:
#1  In The Wee Small Hours 
#2  Songs For Swingin’ Lovers
#3  A Swingin’ Affair!
#4  Only The Lonely
#5  Close To You 
#6  Songs For Young Lovers/Swing Easy
#7  Come Fly With Me
#8  Where Are You?
#9  September Of My Years
#10  Moonlight Sinatra


WATERTOWNOLOGY: Assuming you met Sinatra on occasion, how did he impress you one on one? 

Ed O'Brien: He was very friendly. Had a hand like Gucci leather. Wasn't very tall.

James Rocco: Unfortunately that was not to be. I do have a picture of me beaming at Frankie Valli!

Guy Steele: I saw Sinatra in concert several times but never had the opportunity to meet him.

John Robert Brown: I saw Frank five different times starting in the 1970s. The closest I ever got to him was 4th row center at a Ronald Reagan benefit concert during his 1980 election bid.


WATERTOWNOLOGY: Would you like to say anything for or against the entire Watertown effort? It still remains Frank Sinatra's most obscure album. And it's doubtful that even our efforts will change that as Sinatra fans simply die off.

Ed O'Brien: When Reprise asked me to do the liner notes, I jumped at the chance. The album deserved a better fate. I told the producer my goal was to explain "Watertown." Bob Gaudio, Jake Holmes, Charles Calello, Al Viola, Frank Laico and Lee Herschberg were all invaluable to me. The response to the CD was very favorable. I think it is without question Frank's most contemporary album. Younger people who dig Frank really cherish the album.

James Rocco: I'm grateful that you are keeping the album alive. Let me know if there's anything else I can do. Maybe record "The Train" on my next CD?

Guy Steele: Your website is fabulous and helps to inform people of this great album.  It’s efforts like this that help keep Sinatra’s legacy alive.        


WATERTOWNOLOGY: As a followup to the last question, do you think new generations will hold Sinatra in the same regard as we have?  

Brian Noe: That's an interesting question. I think the academics will certainly keep the flame alive, and his historical position in American popular music, as well as Jazz and culture in general, is secure. Whether or not anybody realizes it or attributes it to him, every time they listen to any music that happens from here on, they're listening to Sinatra. He's at the foundation.

Guy Steele: I believe that musical excellence endures for the ages.  Like Mozart’s music, Sinatra’s will be around forever.  When you listen to what passes for popular music today, you may doubt this.  However, I’m often surprised and pleased at the number of young people who tell me they love listening to Sinatra.  There will always be a core group of people who will enjoy Sinatra’s music and keep it out there for people to discover.  I’ve always said that if the younger generations listened to Sinatra will an open mind, they too would enjoy his great body of work and hold it in high regard….and I speak from personal experience!     


Ed O'Brien: I doubt it. Nothing endures. Crosby was arguably the most popular performer of the last century. He is remembered today for "White Christmas."  Each generation has its own sound. Hearing a Sinatra recording today or seeing any of his TV specials or concerts is difficult. YouTube offers a smattering of his work but very little of real substance. Sinatra's lasting legacy should be his marvelous concept albums. But with the demise of the CD, I wonder if future generations will be able to hear them in their entirety or even know of their existence?

John Robert Brown:
It is with great respect (and fear) that I disagree with Ed O'Brien on this one. Sinatra transcends the times, especially his own era. To me, he is Bach, he is Beethoven, he is Mozart, he is Rachmaninoff. In the year 2525, a Sinatra song will still be very much alive.

James Rocco: Sinatra is the Aristotle of pop singers. He will always be there.

John Robert Brown is a writer and owner of an upstate New York advertising agency which has built and sponsored this free website. Though not claiming to be a Sinatra expert, his collection of Frank's music, films, and memorabilia is massive. John, winner of various ADDY, TELLY, CABLE ACE and Houston Film Festival Awards, as well as CLIO mentions, serves as the moderator of this forum.

Mark Sudock, a narrator, broadcaster and spokesman, is host, interviewer and producer of  THE SINATRA SONGBOOK; international distribution on Metromedia Radio. He is narrator on "An American Tribute, Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee" with the  Musique Sur La Mer Symphony Orchestra, London 2012, and on "An American Tribute Celebrating the Marriage of William & Kate" with the Musique Sur La Mer Symphony Orchestra, London 2011.