Watertown focus of little-known Sinatra album - yes, THIS Watertown

Watertown focus of little-known Sinatra album - yes, THIS Watertown
Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 7:22 AM EDT
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Most know about Frank Sinatra, but few people know about one special album he recorded in 1970. Emily Griffin tells us about “Watertown,” which is, in fact, about Watertown, N.Y. It was released 52 years ago this month.

WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - In 1969, the Sultan of Swoon, Frank Sinatra, was in a lull of his career. He wanted to do something different.

So, with famed songwriters Bob Gaudio and Jake Holmes, the “Watertown” album was born.

“It’s a lot more complicated than your old Frank Sinatra songs,” Watertown Music Studio owner Phillip Lai said. “He uses jazzy chords in there that are not used in his older stuff.”

“It’s a very hidden album, if I may, and hardly anybody knows about it,” said Dr. Lisa Scrivani-Tidd, a professor of music at Jefferson Community College.

The two-part concept album is about a man raising his sons after his wife leaves them for the big city.

“The songs are actually letters that he’s supposedly writing to her once she leaves,” Scrivani-Tidd said, “however we find out in the very last song that he never mailed the letters.”

The songs reference Main Street, a train station, and dreary weather. -- but why choose Watertown?

“Supposedly, the story goes that Bob Gaudio, the one who composed all the music, he actually just opened up a map of New York state and picked Watertown,” Scrivani-Tidd said.

“I think it was ahead of its time,” Lai said. “Although the music and the album did not do well commercially, today it’s considered one of his finest works, actually.”

Despite a flop in sales, Sinatra reportedly loved the album. He retired after and later came back to make more music.

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