The songs were co-written by Jake Holmes. It is the only album Sinatra ever voiced over pre-recorded orchestral tracks. The album was released to mixed critical reviews and poor sales, Sinatra’s only major album release not to crack the Billboard Top 100; the packaging was uncharacteristic of typical Sinatra album designs.
The album’s orchestral tracks were recorded in New York at Columbia 30th Street Studio, also referred to as “The Church”. Unlike previous work, Sinatra did not record with the orchestra, but he did attend the recording sessions for the music. He recorded his vocals over the prerecorded tracks at United/Western Studios on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood. He would never again record his vocals without a live orchestra.
Frank Sinatra’s Watertown album was produced and co-written by Bob Gaudio in 1970. It is considered to be Sinatra’s most ambitious concept album, as well as his most difficult record.
With co-writer Jake Holmes, Gaudio created a song cycle focusing on a middle-aged, small-town man whose wife left him with the kids. Constructed as a series of brief lyrical snapshots that read like letters or soliloquies, the culminating effect of the songs is an atmosphere of loneliness, but it is a loneliness without much hope or romance — it is the sound of a broken man. This concept album was arranged by Charles Calello.