January 30

Jimmy Webb and His “MacArthur Park” as Interpreted by Waylon

“MacArthur Park” is a song that Jimmy Webb penned. In 1968, Richard Harris was the first singer to cover the said track. Harris’ version was a runner-up on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In addition, it ranked 4 on the UK Singles Chart. Subsequently, several other artists recorded “MacArthur Park”. One is a hit version in 1969 by country music singer Waylon Jennings. Jennings’ Cover made the Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal w/ The Kimberlys. The other, the best-known version, is Donna Summer’s disco arrangement from 1978 which occupied the 1st spot of the Billboard Hot 100.

“MacArthur Park” and Jimmy Webb

In the summer and fall of 1967, Jimmy Webb composed “MacArthur Park” as part of an intended cantata.

Webb initially brought the entire cantata to The Association. Unfortunately, the group rejected his proposal.

Jimmy got his inspiration for the song from his relationship and breakup with Susie Horton. MacArthur Park, formerly known as Westlake Park, is in Los Angeles. This park was where Jimmy and Susie occasionally met for lunch and spent their most enjoyable times together. Sometime in 1965, Horton worked for a life insurance company. Just across the street from the park was the place she was working for. During an interview for Terry Gross, Terry asked what was going through Webb’s mind when he wrote the lyrics. Webb replied that its meaning was symbolic—a sign of an ending love affair.

After Susie Horton married another man, Webb and Horton remained friends. Apart from that, Jimmy Webb’s separation was also the primary influence for “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”. This was another composition by Webb.  After his relationship ended, Webb stayed for a while at the residence of Buddy Greco. Greco then composed the piano piece for “MacArthur Park”. Soon after, Buddy Greco featured his bravura (a brilliant technique in playing) piano playing on Jimmy Webb’s “MacArthur Park”.


mcarthur park, The Kimberlys, Waylon Jennings

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