Monday, June 24, 2013

Song Review: "MacArthur's Park" (1968) by Richard Harris

One-hit wonders have the ability to either satisfy you because they're so catchy or annoy you for the very same reason. These types of songs always find a way to stick out in a very strange way before the artist has the inability to stick around much longer (and I am gaining hope against that Psy's "Gentleman" did absolutely nothing to meet the ranks of "Gangnam Style"). These singers leave their mark in music, but its their song that really leaves its place in music. I previously reviewed "In The Year 2525" and will now review another one-hit wonder in a sense, only this one I just don't get and it's more laughable than incredible. Then again, anything is bound to be laughable when it's sung by Albus Dumbledore. Well... technically it's not the cunning, smooth talking wizard that oversees Hogwarts that sings the song, but his original actor does, this being Richard Harris. The song is "MacArthur's Park," which is only a one-hit wonder of the basis that this was Harris' only hit. A more memorable cover came out in 1978 when Donna Summer made it into a disco hit.

Everything about this song is strange and in many cases aggravating. It's seven minutes and twenty-one seconds and has just three verses and the chorus is sung three times. The rest is musical fluff of different verses that are beyond strange. The soft, smooth sailing background starts the song, but then it concentrates on its instrumental background before becoming randomly upbeat and this upbeat music has absolutely no contribution to the song.

As for the meaning of the song itself: Wow! Just wow! Jimmy Webb, who wrote for Glen Campbell, wrote this song about his former girlfriend and how they would spend time in MacArthur's Park in Los Angeles. Much of the song is metaphorical and he makes plenty of comparisons. The most memorable is how he compares his contributions to this relationship as "leaving a cake out in the rain" and that he "just can't take it, cause it took so long to bake it, and he'll never have the recipe again..." an awkward "oh no" can be added if you wish.

Let's go over the whole cake analogy, because the song heads right into that direction the moment it is mentioned. My impression of initially listening to this song is about a man who's whining about leaving a cake out in the rain and that he's upset, because he spent a long time baking this cake... which leads me to believe, "why the heck would you be putting the cake in such a dangerous situation out in the rain???" Richard Harris does a decent job capturing the emotion, but it's so awkward that it's laughable. Plus he has a silly concept for a song to contend with.

This would be the kind of song I could imagine being played at an old-fashioned dentist's office, where they tend to play classical, easy listening music. The only issue would be that there's a strong chance that anybody that listened to this song would not want to return to this dentist. "MacArthur's Park" is just too strange to enjoy. Even while Donna Summer's version of the song was more upbeat and a bit better on the concept that everything blended together, it was just the disco music that made the song something to listen to. The song is very over the top in its lyrics and its emotion, which perhaps could have been a deciding factor as to why Richard Harris became the original Dumbledore before he died after the filming of The Chamber Of Secrets. I heard a bit of Dumbledore in this performance.

I will leave a link to this song in order to allow you to understand what I'm talking about. By all means, I urge you to refrain from downloading this song onto your musical device, unless this kind of ridicule is entertaining in your mind. This video is owned by the person who downloaded the video and the song is owned by its original creators and record label.

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