I have more Frank Sinatra records than anyone I know, but I didn't have this until Monday - even though it's been months since Her Allyness posted one of these songs (and longer still since she first mentioned the LP). It came up on the iPo in a quiet moment the other day when Mrs H was sitting listening and she said 'I've never heard that before. That's lovely' - which reminded me that indeed it was, and sent me, finally, off up the Amazon, and here we are.
The album's narrated by a smalltown guy whose wife has left him and their two boys (Michael & Peter) and taken off on a train for the big city - we're not told why; there's a suggestion he may be to blame. The songs, by Jake Holmes and Bob 'Four Seasons' Gaudio, are a 'series of brief lyrical snapshots that read like letters or soliloquies' (AllMusic); it is the ordinariness of the subject matter that really breaks your heart.
There's an academic interpretation of the album as an allegory for Sinatra's relationship with his recording audience - that by 1969 he was seen as a tired old Vegas-based Greatest Hits machine, out of touch with the Woodstock times, that they had left him and he wondered if he'd ever get them back again. Well, that's interesting, but I'm not sure I buy it: Sinatra was still a huge recording star at the end of the 60s - '69 had been the year of 'My Way', after all.
No. Me, I'm hearing it as an extension of 'A Man Alone' and a reference right back to what the other side of the ring-a-ding-ding Frank had always been doing - singing songs for and of the lonely, baby.
Belated thanks A x
Frank Sinatra - 'Michael & Peter' (1970)
Frank Sinatra - 'What A Funny Girl (You Used To Be)' (1970)