'MacArthur Park' And A Cake Out In The Rain: Worst. Lyrics. Ever?

By | November 11, 2020

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Donna Summer performs on stage, circa 1975, as Richard Harris looks on. (Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns; IMDB)

"MacArthur Park," a hit for Richard Harris, Waylon Jennings, the Four Tops and Donna Summer, has the worst lyrics ever written. That's an article of faith in popular music of the latter half of the 20th century -- many artists have written or belted out terrible cliches or atrocious rhymes, but nothing touches "MacArthur Park," a heartfelt elegy for a rain-ruined cake. See, rain is not good for cakes, you don't have to be Betty Crocker to know that, but as a metaphor a green cake melting in the rain is just silly. Also, it's not even a metaphor. There really is a cake.

Psychedelic, bizarre songs composed of absurd lyrics dominated the airwaves so much throughout the 1960’s, that people even stopped questioning the strangeness of these tunes. However, Jimmy Webb’s 1968 eccentric composition "MacArthur Park" still confused the masses who had already been accustomed to the ‘60s standard of weird.

Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it
'Cause it took so long to bake it

Listeners everywhere drove themselves crazy trying to understand what the story of this cake was.  Despite being considered by many critics to be the “worst song ever written,” the song has charted again and again, proving to be the strangest top 40 hit in history.

MacArthur Park Is A Story About One Of Jimmy Webb's Relationships

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Source: Rolling Stone

"MacArthur Park" describes a true story about a deep heartbreak experienced by the narrator. Jimmy Webb wrote the song in 1967 about his old flame Suzy Horton, a relative of Linda Ronstadt. Horton had a strong hold on Webb as she also inspired his famous tunes "By The Time I Get To Phoenix," "Where’s The Playground," and "The Worst That Could Happen." In "MacArthur Park," Webb recalls the lovely days he spent with Horton at the Los Angeles park where she worked across the street and they often met for lunch. The song takes a turn when it reaches their breakup, which completely devastated Webb. Webb unloads his depressing emotions in "MacArthur Park" in such a surreal manner that makes listeners feel his misery.