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9:35 a.m. - April 19, 2007
MacArthur Park - Don't Leave Your Cake Out In The Rain!
One of my friends on MyBacon helped me out in a moment of madness, and sent me “MacArthur Park” by Richard Harris.

As Liz would say, “Don’t encourage him.”


But you know, I got what I paid for, I suppose.


Certainly, no matter how young or old you are, you’ve stumbled across this tale and wondered, “What the h-e-double hockey sticks is he (or she, since Donna Summer did this too) singing about?”


Well, I don’t know, really, but I’m keen to guess. Shall we take a look at it? Let’s get on the trolley to the land of…well, it’s a land for sure.


MACARTHUR PARK (Jimmy Webb)
Spring was never waiting for us, girl
It ran one step ahead
As we followed in the dance


I do like this allusion, really. It’s off to a promising start. Mr. Webb has potential, here.


Between the parted pages and were pressed
In love's hot, fevered iron
Like a striped pair of pants


And…he’s off the rails already. He’s equating a relationship to ironing a pair of pants? And not just any trousers, striped (or as Harris sings…strip-ed) trousers. Was that fashionable then? Maybe. But except for old school basketball warmups who wears striped pants now (pinstripes notwithstanding)?


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!


Now, I’ve read where MacArthur Park is a real place in LA where people used to have picnics and what not and it was a real nice place. (Yes, Harris sings MacArthur’s). But now here we are. He sets up the cake allusion too early, introducing the icing flowing down before talking about leaving a cake out in the rain.

A cake? Out in the rain? Who the hell does that? Even if it is an allusion for lost love, seriously, Jimmy. That’s a waste of cake. Even if it has green icing.

I recall the yellow cotton dress
Foaming like a wave
On the ground around your knees
The birds, like tender babies in your hands
And the old men playing checkers by the trees

That’s a long dress, there, Jimmy. And going to a picnic in a park with a dress that long is just asking for serious cleaning bills, especially if she’s playing with birds. Grass stains and other stains, oh my!

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!

Ok, I have to ask. What kind of nincompoop gets rid of a recipe for some delicious cake, anyway? What, did that mysterious voice on the tape recorder give it to him, and then it self destructed in five seconds. Never, EVER, get your recipes from Mr. Phelps, then. Unless you are Martin Landau and can impersonate any third world dictator or Barbara Bain and somehow manage to impersonate his wife, even though you look nothing like the natives of said country, just stay away from a white haired man with a briefcase.

There will be another song for me
For I will sing it
There will be another dream for me
Someone will bring it
I will drink the wine while it is warm
And never let you catch me looking at the sun
And after all the loves of my life
After all the loves of my life
You'll still be the one

Who brings dreams? I don’t think there’s a dream delivery service. (And if there is, you’d better tip well!) At any rate, now we see where all this is going. Mr. Webb is de-pressed about losing a love. Either that, or he’s singing about a cake.

I will take my life into my hands and I will use it
I will win the worship in their eyes and I will lose it
I will have the things that I desire
And my passion flow like rivers through the sky
And after all the loves of my life
After all the loves of my life
I'll be thinking of you
And wondering why

Why is he thinking he will lose the worship in their eyes if he’s trying to pump himself up after losing the love of his life, unless it’s for the rhyme? I always thought that ‘rivers through the sky’ was a cheap metaphor, really. You came up with green icing flowing down, Jimmy, and then you come up with rivers in the sky? Yeesh.

(BTW – now comes the kickin’ instrumental part, played, no doubt, by the best session men in LA. Of course, they just played the music – they probably had no idea about the lyrics until they heard the song on the radio!)

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!
Oh, no
No, no
Oh no!!

Oh, no indeed. As Mr. Harris sings talks his way through it, you can almost imagine his impassioned angst about a yummy, scrumptious cake being left out in bad weather. He’s ACTING, people. ACTING! Just like he did in Orca, Camelot, or A Man Called Horse, he’s ACTING!

Well, now, it all seems clear, doesn’t it? If you don’t want your true love to melt away, keep the pastries out of the inclement weather.
I think that’s a lesson we can all take heed in, right?

 

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