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Donna Summer - MacArthur Park Suite (Original Version) Casablanca Records 1977

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Published on Apr 9, 2012

"MacArthur Park" is a song by Jimmy Webb in 1968, originally composed as part of an intended cantata. The song was initially rejected by The Association. Richard Harris was the second to record it; the song was subsequently covered by numerous artists. Among the best-known covers are Donna Summer's disco arrangement from 1978 and Waylon Jennings's version recorded in 1969. Maynard Ferguson, Stan Kenton, and Woody Herman all performed big-band jazz arrangements, and "Weird Al" Yankovic parodied it in his 1993 "Jurassic Park."

While a commercially successful song multiple times it was released, "MacArthur Park" utilized flowery lyrics and metaphors (most famously, love being likened to a cake left out in the rain) that were considered by media such as the Los Angeles Times to be "polarizing" and "loopy."

The inspiration for "MacArthur Park" was the relationship and breakup between Webb and Susan Ronstadt, a cousin of singer Linda Ronstadt. MacArthur Park was where the two occasionally met for lunch and spent their most enjoyable times together. At that time (mid-1965), Ronstadt worked for a life insurance company whose offices were located just across the street from the park. Webb and Ronstadt remained friends, even after her marriage to another man. The breakup was also the primary influence for "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," another Webb composition.

A multi-million selling vinyl single disco version of "MacArthur Park" by Donna Summer was number one on the American pop music sales charts for three weeks during 1978. Summer's recording, which was included as part of the "MacArthur Park Suite" on her double album Live and More, was eight minutes and forty seconds long on the album. The shorter seven-inch vinyl single version of the MacArthur Park was Summer's first single to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

The 18-minute musical medley "MacArthur Park Suite" incorporated the songs "One of a Kind" and "Heaven Knows". This medley was also sold as a 12" (30 cm) vinyl recording, and it stayed at number one on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Songs chart for five weeks in 1978. The versions of this medley in Live and More and in the 12" recording are notably different in choices of the lengths of the slices of the two accompanying songs.

"MacArthur Park" was not included on the compact disc version of Live and More because of early CD limitations; however, the album version is available on 1987's The Dance Collection.

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