By Tom Quiner
It’s the worst song ever written.
It depends on the poll, of course, but Jimmy Webb’s 1968 hit song, “MacArthur Park,” is legendary for its maudlin smaltizness, its preposterous imagery, and its mushy lyrics.
Add in Richard Harris’ legendary over-the-top performance, and you’ve got a recipe for a song people love to hate … and yet one to which they can’t stop listening.
Despite being so critically reviled, MacArthur Park peaked at #2 on Billboard’s Hot One Hundred Chart.
What makes the song so gosh darn much fun is hearing an Academy Award winning actor sing lyrics like these without cracking up:
“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
There’s something almost courageous about singing this in public. It takes guts.
Go to a mirror, right now. Try to read these lyrics and keep a straight face.
In the performance above, watch Richard Harris sit down for the really slow section, and then do a backward somersault to pop back to his feet. The Irish Mr. Harris was a legendary drinker for much of his life. One can’t help but wonder if he was sober with his overblown presentation of this song.
In summary, this is one sappy, ridiculous, terrible song.
I think I’ll listen to it again.