Monday, December 18, 2006
It's 1970 and Frank Sinatra has had enough. He's spent the last few years attempting to deal with the youth culture that has overtaken him. The albums that he gave his all to like A Man Alone and the Jobim collaboration were relative commercial failures and he's watched some of the worst shit he's ever recorded find acceptance. Within a few short years he's gone from being the coolest man on the planet to appearing with The Fifth Dimension wearing love beads.
He's had it and the world's had him. Retiring seems the only logical thing to do, step back and let all of this just pass him by until the world catches up again. One final statement though, one final glance through that wall of isolation that he had visited time and time again.
He had created the concept album when The Beatles and Pete Townshend were still getting their chins wiped by their parents. One more album and let them all burn. Their pinball wizards and lovely meter maids meant nothing to him. His was a world of pain, isolation and separation. He'll make an album about the new modern obsession, divorce, and if it fails all the more fitting as he stopped caring long before.
He gets Gaudio and Holmes to write it. Hell he might even make a TV show out of it and really stick it too them. He'll play a father and husband abandoned by his wife Elizabeth and left to take care of his sons Michael and Peter. The album will trace this dissolve and it'll be a broken man he'll leave for us to find.
No Ring a Ding, no Rat Pack, no more Chairman, that's all behind him and he knows it. He steps into Columbia Studios with a sore throat from a cold and a weary heart from a cold world and lays down 11 of the most gut wrenching powerful performances of his career. Take that he thinks as he leaves, the lights dimming behind him as the master tapes continue rolling.
The record fails, it fails big time, and he slips away into his memories and ours. He will make more records later, some good, some not, but he'll never make another statement like Watertown. He'll never chronicle pain and what it is to be alone, really alone, again. He closes out his career pissed and pissing it away surrounded by whatever trendy 'artist' he's grouped with but always in a separate booth, in a separate town because he never forgot that it was separation that he truly knew. It was separation that he embraced and Watertown was his true last statement, his Waterloo, and the last time he would raise his middle finger to a world that had forgotten just how much they needed him.