Marvin Gaye had Here, My Dear, and now Frank Sinatra has Watertown. Forgotten masterpieces well worth hearing again and again. Two distinctly original, ambitious recordings that prove to be more profound with each passing year. Both are souvenirs of an artistic zenith, captured forever in recording sessions (Gaye’s in 1977 & ’78, and Sinatra’s in 1970). Thank God.

In other words, if you long for the days when albums stood on their own, as if literature set to music, now is a time to rejoice. Frank Sinatra’s Watertown is being re-released next week. On June 3, Frank Sinatra Enterprises and UMe present Watertown, newly mixed and remastered from the original Reprise session tapes resulting in superior sound quality. The original album sequence will be available on vinyl, while the CD and digital editions will feature eight bonus tracks, including alternate takes from the recording sessions, two radio ads and “Lady Day,” which was not part of the Watertown concept. Charles Pignone produced the updated edition from the new mixes created by longtime Sinatra engineer Larry Walsh – the team behind recent FSE/UMe releases Sings for Only the Lonely and Nice ‘N’ Easy. Now appreciated as a masterpiece of drama and heartbreak, Watertown will also feature, in addition to a recreation of the original packaging, new liner notes, a track-by-track breakdown from songwriter and album producer Bob Gaudio, quotes from Sinatra, plus essays by Frankie Valli, co-writer Jake Holmes, among others who were involved in the original project. 

One could classify Watertown as a concept album; the songs convey a narrative sequentially. The story of Watertown is about a man, who’s is left behind by his wife, who raises his kids in the small town of Watertown. It is a brilliant portrait of an often overlooked time, place, and situation.

The album has been produced with meticulous precision and performed by a singer able to make even the most compact poetic metaphor make immediate emotional. sense. Upon Watertown’s release, fans and critics alike simply weren’t prepared for such a radical stylistic departure from Sinatra. But the album has shown resilience: Despite the initial lukewarm response, in the decades since the album has had a re-evaluation and, in 2007, The Guardian declared Watertown “one of [Sinatra’s] greatest masterpieces” and in 2015, The Observer noted that “it made some sense that Sinatra would attempt a story-driven concept album, considering he had helped pioneer the thematic concept LP in the 1950s. But on Watertown, Sinatra did something truly risky: he told an entire album-length story from the point of view of [a] character that is most definitely not Frank Sinatra.” Gaudio’s essay explains that Sinatra, with a level of empathy only he could achieve, was “reaching down into a man’s soul and feeling his pain and still finding hope.”

Side 1
1. Watertown
2. Goodbye (She Quietly Says)
3. For A While
4. Michael & Peter
5. I Would Be In Love (anyway)
Side 2
1. Elizabeth
2. What A Funny Girl (You Used To Be)
3. What’s Now Is Now
4. She Says
5. The Train

1. Watertown
2. Goodbye (She Quietly Says)
3. For A While
4. Michael & Peter
5. I Would Be In Love (anyway)
6. Elizabeth
7. What A Funny Girl (You Used To Be)
8. What’s Now Is Now
9. She Says
10. The Train
11. Lady Day*
12. Lady Day (11/7/69)*
13. Watertown (Session Take)*
14. Goodbye (Session Take)*
15. The Train (Session Take)*
16. Lady Day (11/7/69) (Session Take)*
17. 1970 Reprise Radio Promo #1*
18. 1970 Reprise Radio Promo #2*

*Bonus Tracks


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