Song Lyric Sunday | “MacArthur Park” – Donna Summer


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Song Lyric Sunday was created by Helen Vahdati from This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time and author Jim Adams from A Unique Title For Me is our current guest host. For complete rules or to join in the fun, click here.

This week’s theme is Baking/Bread/Cake/Pie/Picnic.

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After legendary songwriter Jimmy Webb wrote MacArthur Park, actor Richard Harris took the song to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and country music icon Waylon Jennings won a Grammy Award for his cover in 1969; but it was Disco Queen Donna Summer who introduced it to a new generation in the disco era and took the song to number one in November of 1978 and stayed there for three weeks. (This was yet another song that could be heard all over my college dorm! 😀  )

The Meaning of MacArthur Park

The inspiration for the song was Jimmy Webb’s relationship and breakup with Susie Horton. MacArthur Park, in Los Angeles, was where the couple would occasionally meet for lunch and spent their most enjoyable times together. In an interview with Newsday in October 2014, Webb explained:

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.

 

FUN FACTS:

  • Jimmy Webb and Susie Horton remained friends, even after her marriage to another man. The breakup was also the primary influence for By the Time I Get to Phoenix, another song written and composed by Webb.
  • In 1967, producer Bones Howe had asked Webb to create a pop song with classical elements, different movements and changing time signatures. Webb delivered MacArthur Park to Howe with “everything he wanted”, but Howe did not care for the ambitious arrangement or unorthodox lyrics and the song was rejected by the group The Association, for whom it was originally intended.
  • The nearly 18-minute Donna Summer musical medley MacArthur Park Suite incorporated the original songs One of a Kind and Heaven Knows. This medley was also sold as a 12-inch (30 cm) vinyl recording, and it stayed at number one on Billboards Hot Dance Club Songs chart for five weeks in 1978.

The video is a live performance from VH1 Presents.

Enjoy!

See my Song Lyric Sunday selection on Nesie’s Place.

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Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

MacArthur Park

by Donna Summer

Songwriters: Jimmy Webb

Spring was never waiting for us, dear
It ran one step ahead
As we followed in the dance
MacArthur’s Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don’t think that I can take it
‘Cause it took so long to bake it
And I’ll never have that recipe again
Oh, no
I recall the yellow cotton dress
Foaming like a wave
On the ground beneath your knees
The birds, like tender babies in your hands
And the old men playing Chinese checkers by the trees
MacArthur’s Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don’t think that I can take it
‘Cause it took so long to bake it
And I’ll never have that recipe again
Oh, no
MacArthur’s Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left my cake out in the rain
And I don’t think that I can take it
‘Cause it took so long to bake it
And I’ll never have that recipe again
Oh, no, oh

Compiled from Genius Lyrics, Google, Wikipedia, Songfacts.com, and YouTube.

25 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday | “MacArthur Park” – Donna Summer

  1. I remember the Richard Harris version WAY back and laughing at the way it was sung. To me and my friends we thought it was a joke. Donna Summer gave this song the dignity it deserved. The lyrics are sheer poetry and a man pouring out his soul on the page and in the music. Excellent choice, Nesie.

    Liked by 1 person

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