Holy shit. I was just in the local bodega buying a bottle of dish washing liquid and a housewarming gift for some friends I’m visiting later (pot holder / oven mitt / dish towel set – so cute!) and Donna Summer’s extended disco dance mix of “MacArthur Park” came on. And I almost lost my shit right in there the store, because that song is just insane. You know, it’s Donna’s version that goes on for, like, 20 minutes and just takes off on its own little journey? Hot damn, what a great fucking song.
When I was a kid in the ’60s, listening to Richard Harris’s overwrought, melodramatic version of this arguably enigmatic song, I thought the lyrics were meant to be taken literally, and I could not comprehend why the fuck someone would leave a fucking cake out in the rain. I mean, what the hell? It used to just kill me; wondering why the person singing had left what must have obviously been a very delicious cake (hence the degree of chagrin caused by this careless act) out in the rain? And why would they “never have that recipe again”? What did it all mean, and why did it feel like the world was ending over some fancy pastry every time Harris sang that line? Even back then, I was a big fan of cake, so “MacArthur Park” never failed to cause me significant emotional distress. Because, anyone can see that cake left out in the rain is bad news.
Of course, now that I’ve lived life to adulthood, and had the opportunity to have my heart stomped-on and ground into tiny pieces of detritus, I understand that the lyrics to “MacArthur Park” are a metaphor for tragically lost love. It’s a sad song, for sure.
Even now, I would still rather have the cake.