Jimmy Webb To Perform His Iconic Song 'MacArthur Park' In MacArthur Park On Saturday
Songwriter Jimmy Webb will be returning to MacArthur Park Saturday to play—what else?—his iconic song "MacArthur Park." This will be only the second time that Webb, who wrote the ballad in 1968, has sung it in the park, according to the L.A. Times. He had previously played at the park in 2013. This time around, Webb will perform on Saturday, July 9 at the park's Levitt Pavilion bandshell.MacArthur Park (née Westlake Park) dates back to the late nineteenth century, when the surrounding area was one of L.A.'s fanciest. Since then both the park and the surrounding Westlake neighborhood have fallen on harder times, and by the mid-1980s MacArthur Park had become synonymous with gang violence. It's cleaned up a bit in recent years, though it's still pretty easy to buy a fake ID there.
(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)
The seven-minute long song was originally recorded by British actor Richard Harris in 1968; his version hit No. 2 on the Billboard charts and won a Grammy that same year. The song's legacy has been extremely divisive: The Guardian called it one of the most baffling hits in the history of pop music, and humorist Dave Barry ridiculed it as the "worst song in modern history," but others love it, and numerous versions have risen to prominence.Though Donna Summer's multi-platinum disco take on "MacArthur Park" is probably the best known, versions have also been recorded by Frank Sinatra and the Four Tops, and Waylon Jennings even made it into a country hit in 1969.
Over the years, Webb has taken a fair amount of flack for the song's goofy lyrics (lost love is likened to a cake being left out in the rain), but he maintains that they are rooted in reality. He explained further in a 2014 interview with Newsday:
Everything in the song was visible. There's nothing in it that's fabricated. The old men playing checkers by the trees, the cake that was left out in the rain, all of the things that are talked about in the song are things I actually saw. And so it's a kind of musical collage of this whole love affair that kind of went down in MacArthur Park. ... Back then, I was kind of like an emotional machine, like whatever was going on inside me would bubble out of the piano and onto paper.
This version of the song by The Three Degrees, performed on a Japanese television show in the 1970s, is also pretty incredible: