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(42,862 posts)
Mon Dec 14, 2020, 02:52 PM Dec 2020

"MacArthur Park" -- Richard Harris 🆚 Donna Summer

"MacArthur Park" is a song written by American singer-songwriter Jimmy Webb that was originally recorded by Irish singer Richard Harris in 1968. Harris's version peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number four on the UK Singles Chart. "MacArthur Park" was subsequently covered by numerous artists, including ... a number one Billboard Hot 100 disco arrangement by Donna Summer in 1978.[1]

In 1967, producer Bones Howe had asked Webb to create a pop song with 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 and unorthodox lyrics and the song was rejected by the group the Association, for whom it was originally intended.[2]

Which version do you like the best?
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Richard Harris
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Donna Summer
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I can't decide, I like both versions.
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(42,862 posts)
3. Apparently "The Association" thought so to. But now it just makes me laugh.
Mon Dec 14, 2020, 02:56 PM
Dec 2020
Webb replied that it was meant to be symbolic and referred to the end of a love affair.[6] 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.[4]

Webb and 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.[1]


(102,175 posts)
2. THat one is tough... I adore Donna Summer and had you asked me before I'd ever heard Harris'
Mon Dec 14, 2020, 02:55 PM
Dec 2020

version if I could imagine being a fan of any vocal performance of his, I would have thought you were insane. But, there is something so memorable about Richard Harris' McArthur Park--crazy lyrics and all.

Love them both. Harris' being so unexpected might just tip the scale slightly in his direction.


(10,042 posts)
4. I still put the Donna Summer version on
Mon Dec 14, 2020, 02:56 PM
Dec 2020

when I do my housework. My granddaughters also really like it, they have never heard it before or know who either artist is.


(42,862 posts)
8. I agree! She has such a strong and rich voice...
Tue Dec 15, 2020, 09:41 AM
Dec 2020

... Donna Summer was blessed with a finely trained three octave mezzo-soprano vocal range.

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