An answer record of sorts to “San Francisco”, but this time a place – or placename – chosen for its delicious phonemes, not its youth-historical weight. So the longing that suffuses “Massachusetts” is really un-placed, and more dangerous for it. The Brothers Gibb mostly hold their harmonic clout in check, preferring to act as a niggling backing murmur, a tidal pull on the lonesome lead vocal.
The story in the song is confused – does he stay, does he go, who with – and so is the singer. His restlessness is clear enough, but vagueness surrounds him – there were “things” he wanted to do, “something” calls him back; but it can’t be put in words. Or can it? That final line – “And Massachusetts is one place I have…” – a pause, you expect “been”, you get “seen”. The difference between them is the sad heart of the record.