Sunday, November 15, 2009

A requiem for MacArthur Park

We took up the worst-ever song conversation earlier here, and it's really impressive to note how much this site has matured since then. Who could have imagined that SSS would now praise "MacArthur Park'' after what we put it through?

It's the anniversary of Donna Summer's disco hit, which rose to No. 1 on this very day in 1978. And we have a little treat for you today if you'll just hold on for a bit.

The problem with the song was Richard Harris, an actor who had no business tackling the song. Jimmy Webb's lyrics -- except for the fatal cake in the rain passage -- may be as good as anything he ever wrote. As Charles pointed out, Webb himself offered a passable version of the song (though I've not heard it).

But it definitely could have used a different melody. It's amazing to see how many artists have covered the song without bringing anything new to it. Maybe the just loved the lyrics and thought they could salvage the tune.

Spring was never waiting for us, girl
It ran one step ahead
As we followed in the dance
Between the parted pages and were pressed
In love's hot, fevered iron
Like a striped pair of pants

Believe it or not, the song somehow made it to the karaoke circuit. And that's our treat for you today. Sing along with Donna now:

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