A Man Alone: The Words & Music of McKuen (1969)
Many of Sinatra's great albums from his prime have an effortless quality about them. This one is the opposite; everyone seems like they're trying really hard at it. It's a recording of songs and verse written by the prolific poet Rod McKuen. He was hugely popular at the time and not just by poetry standards but is mostly forgotten today. I believe McKuen wrote A Man Alone especially for Sinatra. If so, it fits in comfortably with one of Frank's familiar personas--the man who's exchanged love for memories and some regrets but will not be defeated. The songs exist on the same plane as Sinatra's saloon songs but with more distance and less alcohol. Sinatra's in fine voice as usual. He's not given any room to swing but he's still able to get inside his character and the songs. The spoken word pieces are a nice change of pace and are a reminder of what a fine actor Frank was.
McKuen is a solid songwriter but the songs lack the magic of Sinatra's best recordings. The melodies are pleasant enough but they usually go where you expect them to and there's seldom much happening rhythmically. The lyrics are kind of simple but they have a nice flow to them. McKuen's style is dated but it probably wasn't at the time. The spotlight goes to the minor hit Love's Been Good to Me. It's a good example of how the Chairman changed his game during the late 60s in response to Rock. Don Costa's tasteful arrangement with a harpsichord complements Frank's voice and what he's trying to do with his new image. If you like that one, do me a favor and listen to The Beautiful Strangers and tell me if it sounds like something else. To me, it sounds like McKuen went "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" to write the song. Frank is alone on the album cover with the right half of his head shrouded in darkness. It's cropped too close to tell if he's wearing a hat but I'll go with no on that one. There appear to be a couple of different versions of the cover--one with a tiny text box in the upper right corner and the other more balanced with the title floating over his hidden half face.
Bosley is doing OK I guess. He's gotten used to his medication so he's not falling everywhere. He still occasionally gets stuck in corners and under things but that's a feature of the dementia. The other day I found him eating his dog food with his tail submerged in his water dish.