When it’s bad…

From the Wikipedia page on MacArthur Park (song) (retrieved May 23, 2011):

Negative press

“MacArthur Park”‘s unusual metaphors and sentimentality have made it a frequent target of parody and ridicule over the years.

In 1992, humorist Dave Barry conducted a poll among his readers (as recorded in Dave Barry’s Book of Bad Songs) of the worst songs ever. Barry’s readers selected (Richard) Harris’ version of “MacArthur Park” as the worst song ever recorded, both in terms of “Worst Lyrics” and “Worst Overall Song”.

The song was also once parodied in a 1981 episode of SCTV, in which Dave Thomas, playing Richard Harris, sang a version of the song that appears to never end

It’s really the chorus that does it in:

MacArthur 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…

Though some of the main lyrics don’t help that much either:

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

When I first heard the song, in 1968, I remember being impressed with the orchestration, and finding the lyrics…well, odd. When my mother first heard the song, she couldn’t stop laughing: “Oh no….Oh no!”

All coming back when listening to a live recording of what’s left of The Four Tops (one original member) and they open the set with…MacArthur Park, which they had turned into a hit in the 1960s. It’s been recorded by many people, including Donna Summer, Long John Baldry and Waylon Jennings (?).

I guess if you hear it long enough, that which is ridiculous becomes standard.

Oh no…
______________________________________________________________
Postscript, May 23, 2011: The idyllic whatever, that was attempted to be described in 1968, is significantly at variance with the later history of the park.

Postscript, May 23, 2011: Waylon Jennings’ version of the song (recorded with The Kimberlys), won the 1970 Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group. The Kimberlys were a folk vocal group from the mid-1960s that didn’t seem to do much after collaborating with Waylon Jennings on Country-Folk (1969), which included the award-winning version of “MacArthur Park”.

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