Back in 2011, "Rolling Stone" published a list of "the worst songs of the 1960's" based upon a readers' poll. I am old enough to remember every one of those songs from when they first emerged onto the airwaves. They are, as they say, part of the soundtrack of my life.
Okay, I will agree with "Rolling Stone" readers about "Sugar Sugar" by The Archies and "Yummy Yummy Yummy" by Ohio Express but there are songs on that list that I remember with affection. Amongst them are "I Got You Babe" by Sonny and Cher, "Honey" by Bobby Goldsboro and "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" by Tiny Tim who was a friend to Bob Dylan when he first arrived as an unknown in New York City in 1961.
However, the "worst song" I want to single out came in at number three on the "Rolling Stone" list. It's "MacArthur Park" by Jimmy Webb as recorded by Richard Harris in 1968. When I first heard it as a boy of fourteen, I saw it as a soaring, rather mystical, perhaps drug induced song about frustrated ambition and loss - "And I'll never have that recipe again". In fact it's Jimmy Webb's account of a broken relationship. He developed the song with the eccentric actor Richard Harris himself prior to recording. In spite of repeated correction Harris kept inserting an apostrophe - hence MacArthur's Park.
There is no truth in the myth that this seven minute song was reduced from an original twenty two minute version. Richard Harris died in 2002 but at the tender age of 74, Jimmy Webb is still going strong.
"Someone left the cake out in the rain. I don't think I can take it, cause it took so long to bake it..."ReplyDelete
It's been covered by the likes of Donna Summers, Frank Sinatra and Scottish Prog Rock band Beggars Opera.
It is a song that stays with you - that is what I have found anyway Northsider.Delete
I never did understand the lyrics, although the song did appeal to me. Perhaps I was too young.ReplyDelete
The lyrics recollected Jimmy Webb's relationship with a young woman in LOs Angeles in the mid-sixties. They would literally meet up in MacArthur Park and have lunch there - sometimes including homemade cakes.Delete
A yellow cotton dress? That's more like it! All in all, I must say the song does not "give" me anything, probably because I have never heard it before.ReplyDelete
But it is interesting how our own opinion of a song can differ greatly from that of others, especially when particular memories are attached to it.
Funny how you had never heard of it but I have known if for well over fifty years.Delete
Of course I remember that one. It was everywhere for awhile. Even when I was so young I knew that that the part about the cake melting in the rain was sort of embarrassingly silly. I will say that Richard Harris was one of my favorite actors. Do you remember him in the movie version of Camelot? I still swoon at the thought of his Arthur.ReplyDelete
I will not deign to discuss Goldsboro's "Honey" except to say it was right up there with Paul Anka's, "Having My Baby." Ooh boy.
Having my babyDelete
What a lovely way of saying
How much you love me.
I guess that is what most expectant fathers sing in the delivery room when the contractions are coming thick and fast as the expectant mother choruses:-
I'm having your baby
What a pleasant way of saying
How much I love you.
I don't think the SONG MacArthur Park is bad, but I really, really hate Richard Harris's version. Other singers have done much better, in my opinion. It's not a very deep song, and hence Donna Summer's disco version seems much more lively and natural.ReplyDelete
"Having My Baby" really is an incredible low point, as are "Sugar Sugar" and "Yummy Yummy Yummy" (which my mother always insisted was obscene). "Honey" is pretty dreadful, mostly because the guy laughs every time the woman has any misfortune. It's weirdly misogynistic.
One of my least favorite songs is "Torn Between Two Lovers," though "Feelings" is pretty awful, too.
I guess we all have different tastes when it comes to pop songs. I never thought of "Honey" as being especially misogynistic. To me it is affectionate and has an aura of authenticity. The guy in the song laughed at Honey because the tree she first planted was just a twig but he later realises that his gentle mockery was misplaced - "And see the tree, how big it's grown...". And his genuine love for Honey is recognisable in these words:=Delete
Now my life's an empty stage
Where Honey lived, and Honey played
And love grew up...
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"They're coming to take me away ha ha" takes some beating. And in the 1970s my vote for crap songwritng goes to Andrew Gold "Never Let Her Slip Away" just for "and I love her, I'm hoping that I'll never recover", both words and tune.Delete
I wasn't fond of Roger Whittaker and those famous lines:-Delete
I've got to leave old Dunham town,
I've got to leave old Dunham town.
I've got to leave old Dunham town,
And the leaving's gonna get me down.
He seemed to think he was so good, especially when he did that whistling thing.Delete
Who? Dunham or Whittaker?Delete
It's like a fan at a Borussia Monchengladbach football match shouting: "Give us a B"..ReplyDelete
It's easier with H-U-L-L!Delete
Better than Liverpool,Liverpool, Liverpool...😃ReplyDelete
The last time I saw Liverpool play live, Hull City beat them 2-0.Delete
Sorry, but I add 'I've got you Babe' to the worst. 'Honey' makes me cry, so it can go to the good list. I never really 'got' Tiny Tim. I like Donna Summer's MacArthur Park recording.ReplyDelete
Glad to have another "Honey" fan on board Andrew.Delete
So much for me. Some of these I have never heard of like Macarthur park. I did not like Tip Toe through the tulips. I did like I got you babe and Honey. Songs we love or hate could go on forever.ReplyDelete
I bet you like "Red Red Wine" and "Rudolph the RED nosed reindeer"!Delete
I like red, der wine and I've heard rudolf so many times whether I like it or not . The good thing is that they include "Red"!Delete