Billboard #1 Hits: #454: “MacArthur Park”- Donna Summer. November 11, 1978. #1 for 3 weeks in Billboard Hot 100.

  • Single: ‘MacArthur Park”- Donna Summer
  • Record Company-Casablanca
  • Genre: Disco
  • Written by Jimmy Webb
  • Time: 3:59
  • B-side:”Once Upon A Time” Live
  • Album- Live And More
  • Grade: A
  • Peaked at #1 3 weeks in Billboard Hot 100. #5 in UK Singles Chart, #1 in Canada.

Written by the great songwriter Jimmy Webb back in the summer and fall of 1967. It was originally recorded by the actor Richard Harris- and the single by Harris went all the way to #2 in the Billboard Hot 100. This seems to be one of those songs people love to hate- but obviously a number of people liked it for Harris to take it to #2 and a decade later for Donna Summer’s disco version to hit the top of the charts. I like both versions a lot but if I had to pick a ‘go to’ version it would be the original by Richard Harris.

Jimmy Webb wrote the song after the break-up of his relationship with Susie Horton- he wrote another great hit about that break -up too “By The Time I Get To Phoenix.”

Webb would say about “MacArthur Park.”-

Everything in the song was visible. There’s nothing in it that’s fabricated. The old men playing checkers by the trees, the cake that was left out in the rain, all of the things that are talked about in the song are things I actually saw. And so it’s a kind of musical collage of this whole love affair that kind of went down in MacArthur Park. … Back then, I was kind of like an emotional machine, like whatever was going on inside me would bubble out of the piano and onto paper.

5 responses to “BILLBOARD #1 HITS: #454: ‘MACARTHUR PARK”- DONNA SUMMER – NOVEMBER 11, 1978

  1. Jimmy Webb was indeed a fantastic songwriter, but I think this one missed the mark a bit. I am ok with either, but don’t like either version a great deal. But the original was so over-the-top and campy, I think it did call for a cheesy disco version and Donna delivered that!

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