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In all of Sinatra's concept albums, the order of the playlists was carefully assembled, though not crucial to the total enjoyment. In Watertown, the order is significantly more important, at least for your first few playings. This is a love story with a beginning, a middle and an end; the sequence of events makes it a very powerful listening experience. Part I, his disbelief; Part II, his desperation; Epilogue, her story. Though the lyrics themselves artistically tell the story, we are including the song descriptions told to Ed O'Brien from the lyricist himself, Jake Holmes, obviously a credible source, and with Ed O'Brien's permission:


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART 1

1. "Watertown":
It was the set-up for everything that followed. I had in mind as a model "Lazy Afternoon." I wanted a languid feeling. If we had done the TV special, it would have opened it up, with the credits going by.

2. "Goodbye": I had a line in my head. "There was no tempest in the tea." That's what led me there. I love the idea of those kind of goodbyes that people have where nothing is happening emotionally. It knocks me out when there is nothing on the surface. People are just sitting in a coffee shop and devastation has happened. They don't articulate their feelings. Instead, they are putting sugar in their coffee and spooning cake. They are having a quiet conversation but meanwhile a life is coming apart.

3."For A While": I've always felt that there is that moment in your life when you forget about something that is really terrible. For five minutes the sun is shining and everything is beautiful. Then all of a sudden you realize that the person you cared about is gone, and it all comes back. It is one of those horrible things about grief – one of those little holes in grief when it becomes even more painful.

4."Michael & Peter": I had lost a child in my first marriage. I would have had a child by myself if I could have (laughs). I desperately wanted kids. In a funny kind of way, Gaudio's kids were the models for that song. I put it in letter form, because it was the only way the guy could articulate those sentiments to her.

5. "I Would Be In Love (Anyway)": I guess it's that you can't regret where you are even if life takes you someplace where you don't want to be. In a strange kind of way, it was was this guy trying to let go of this woman without being angry with her. You know, throughout the story, he was never really angry at her. He kind of understood; she had to go.

PART 2

6. "Elizabeth."
It was real simple. I just love that name. Bobby was writing the song and that word just fell into the melody. I just imagined a girl named Elizabeth and wrote words that were a tribute to her.

7. "What A Funny Girl (You Used To Be).": The album could have been a little bit maudlin and dour. I was trying to put a little bit of sunlight everywhere I could. It was a retrospective song. I also wanted to indicate in the song that they had been childhood sweethearts. I wanted that kind of an idea. They were probably kids together. I wanted to give the sense that they had gone to school together. They had fallen in love and married quite young.

8. "What's Now Is Now." There is in that song an indication that she had obviously gone with somebody else. She has had a relationship, and he hadn't been able to accept it. That is partially what drove her off to the big city. There is a guilt theme in that song. It is the song that opens up the story.

9. "She Says." The song is a triple turn to me. He is suspicious of the small talk. The kids are echoing his fears. Why is she sending this letter? What is going on? It is such good news; they can't believe it and they don't trust it. The twist is her saying, "She's comin' home." They don't trust that eithe:r.

10. "The Train": ... is the story. We find out that he really didn't communicate anything to her, and she isn't coming back. Although we're getting all of this story from him, she never got any of this. If she had heard this album, she might have come home. She never saw this side of him. When I think about this in retrospect, there is so much that is not done. There is so much that is unfinished. It gives the story a very deep resonance.

EPILOGUE

11. "Lady Day." I saw the woman as someone who had talent. She wanted to be an artist or a singer. He was a hometown person. His whole orientation was family and business. He was the knd of guy who really lived in Watertown. She was more restless – a more contemporary woman. She wanted to do other things. She wasn't liberated enough to tell him, and she didn't think he'd understand. He was basically a good guy, but she wanted more. She abandoned her family and went for a career. The postscript was whether or not she got it and was it worth it.