Richard Harris’ “MacArthur Park” Lyrics Meaning

There have been various explanations given concerning the meaning of this classic tune (“MacArthur Park”). But it is pretty obvious that by and large it is a love song. Or more specifically, the singer has lost the woman he is very much in love with. But he isn’t crying about it as much as accepting the reality of the situation. For instance, he knows that by all means he will have other girlfriends in the future. However, he is still convinced that the addressee is the love of his life, and as such he will never forget her.

“Cake out in the Rain”

Thus “the cake out in the rain” which is famously reference in this song reads as if it is a metaphor for their relationship. It having ‘taken so long to bake’ apparently alludes to the time and energy he put into building the romance up. But now that it has in fact disintegrated like a “cake out in the rain”, he knows he will ‘never have the recipe again’ to bake another. 

That latter statement comes off as a fancy way of saying that he doesn’t anticipate ever falling in love again like he has with this lady, which is the conclusive sentiment being relayed in the entire tune.

Meaning of MacArthur Park

As for the title of this song, there is in fact a MacArthur Park located in Los Angeles. But that location doesn’t serve any specific function in the song itself besides being its title and where the whole dilemma is apparently set. Or rather it is where the actual addressee, a lady named Suzy Horton, used to meet up with its writer, Jimmy Webb. Or simply put, the sentiments expressed in “MacArthur Park” is how Jimmy apparently felt upon learning that Suzy was no longer interested in him.

“I recall the yellow cotton dress
Foaming like a wave
On the ground around your knees”

Facts about “MacArthur Park”

“MacArthur Park” was written and produced by Jimmy Webb. And in 1968 Richard Harris (1930-2002) became the first of quite a few artists to record it.

Other famous musicians who dropped their own renditions throughout the years include The Four Tops (1971) and Donna Summer (1978).

Richard Harris’ – whose main profession was acting – version came out in April of 1968 via Dunhill Records. And it was featured on his debut album, “A Tramp Shining”.

Some of the instruments on the track were played by the Wrecking Crew, a group of famous session musicians who were featured on a lot of hit songs back in those days.

Richard Harris’ “MacArthur Park” has been panned by critics and some of the listening audience alike, in fact being considered by many as one of the worst songs of all time. But that does not negate the fact that it was commercially successful. For instance, it reached number 4 on the UK Singles Chart and number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.  And this is in addition to actually topping the charts in Australia and Canada.

Moreover it took home a Grammy Award in 1969 in the category of Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s).

Readers’ Comments on “MacArthur Park”

PORTIA says:

“The loss of a first love is an unparalleled experience, one that resonates deeply with the emotions depicted in ‘MacArthur Park’. For me, the song captures the anguish of waiting for years to find the love of your life, only to have them taken away in an instant. I have personally experienced the pain of such a loss.

My first son passed away a few weeks after he was born, and I vividly recall wandering the streets of Nichols Hills in Oklahoma City for weeks, consumed by grief, desperately searching for him. I refused to eat or sleep. In time, I realized that my baby would have wanted me to continue living and find happiness, even in his absence. That was half a century ago, and despite enduring two more tragedies of child loss along the way, I have managed to have three beautiful daughters. Even now, I still feel that giddy sense of anticipation, but as the song says, ‘I will take my life into my hands and use it’!”


“I first heard ‘MacArthur Park’ back in 1968/69 as a young teen, and at that time, I didn’t fully appreciate its depth and significance. However, as I journeyed through life, I began to understand its message, and it became one of the most meaningful songs to me. I appreciated it more as I realized that the emotions and experiences Richard Harris conveyed were ones I had felt myself in various relationships and connections. The song never grows old; instead, it becomes more meaningful and powerful with each passing year. It has the ability to touch you in ways you couldn’t have anticipated when you were a lot younger. As the years go by, the lyrics become like fragments of your own stories, reflecting your joys, heartbreaks, and the complexities of human relationships.

So, I wholeheartedly agree with people who say ‘MacArthur Park’ is a song that continues to gain significance as the years go by. Its meaningfulness and power only deepen with time, making it a cherished companion on our journey through life.”

AFFUL says:

“I truly believe ‘MacArthur Park’ is one of the greatest songs ever composed. And you want to know why? Because of the backstory. Jimmy Webb, the brilliant songwriter, must have penned this masterpiece after experiencing the love of his life marrying someone else. Can you imagine the pain he must have felt? It’s brutal, absolutely brutal. But that’s what makes this song so damn powerful. Every time I hear it, I can’t help but get choked up. It hits me right in the core of my being. The man knows how to pour his heart into his music.”

ANDREW says:

“‘MacArthur Park’ was a sensation on radio back in the late ’60s. I used to listen to it and wonder what the heck those bizarre lyrics were all about. It puzzled me, I’ll admit. But since I got to know the true meaning behind them, it only deepened my love for the song. It was so easy for me to relate, after suffering a number of heartbreaks growing up. It’s like a secret language, a hidden story that adds so much depth and richness. This song, with its beautiful melodies and poignant lyrics, captures the raw emotion of loss and longing like no other. Any time I listen to it, it reminds me of some of the terrible heartaches I’ve experienced. Let it wash over you, and let yourself be moved. Because this is a masterpiece in every sense of the word.”


“I have such fond memories of hearing this song back in the early 70s when I was just a young girl. And let me tell you, the orchestrated part of this song is nothing short of pure brilliance. It stands as the greatest piece of orchestrated music I have ever come across in any song. The way the instruments come together, creating a symphony of emotions, is truly amazing. It’s incredible how music can transport us to places we’ve never been. Despite never stepping foot outside of New York, when I listen to the song, I feel like I have been to MacArthur Park before. It’s like a nostalgic journey to a place that exists in my imagination, yet feels so real. The song’s magic lies in its ability to evoke vivid imagery and emotions, even in those who have never physically experienced the park.”


“There’s something truly enchanting about ‘MacArthur Park’. It has a way of captivating you, drawing you into its world. The melodies, the lyrics, the arrangement—it all comes together to create a sense of wonder and beauty. It’s like being under a spell, caught in the embrace of the music. So, I completely understand why it has remained relevant since its release in 1968. It’s more than just a collection of notes and words. It’s a gateway to a realm of enchantment, a realm where music holds the power to transport us and touch our souls. Richard truly recorded something magical.”

JOHN says:

“This is undeniably an epic masterpiece that transcends time. Its lyrics possess a timeless quality that anyone who has experienced the pain of a lost love can relate with. In Richard Harris’ vulnerable and heartfelt delivery, he manages to strike a chord within us all. After all, who among us hasn’t felt the ache of a love that slipped away? It’s a tale as old as time, and yet, in this song, it feels fresh and profoundly moving.

The metaphor of the cake, representing his lost love, crumbling and dissolving before his very eyes, is nothing short of majestic. It’s a visual and emotional representation of the anguish and helplessness that can consume us in the face of heartbreak. Richard brings this metaphor to life with such raw emotion that it becomes a moment of pure catharsis. I want to extend my deepest gratitude to both Richard and Jimmy Webb for their timeless excellence and beautiful minds. They have crafted a piece of art that speaks to the human experience in such a profound way. Their collaboration has gifted us with a song that stands the test of time.”


“‘MacArthur Park’ reminds me of when I lost my high school sweetheart back in the day. It was around the same time that this song was enjoying massive airplay. The song is filled with beautiful, poignant, and heart-tugging lyrics. The instrumental section that follows the lengthy bridge captures the essence of a power ballad. Despite some criticisms directed towards this recording, I have always been unable to comprehend them. Harris’ rendition is exceptional, and Webb, as a composer, remains underappreciated despite his outstanding ability to create such a beautiful pop masterpiece. This song is one you can listen to any day, anytime and anywhere.”


“I first heard ‘MacArthur Park” in the early 70s as a young teen, and at that time, I didn’t fully appreciate its depth and significance. However, as I journeyed through life, I began to understand its message, and it became one of the most meaningful songs to me. I appreciated it more as I realized that the emotions and experiences Richard Harris conveyed were ones I had felt myself in various relationships and connections.

Honestly, the song never grows old; instead, it becomes more meaningful and powerful with each passing year. It has the ability to touch you in ways you couldn’t have anticipated when you were a lot younger. As the years go by, the lyrics become like fragments of your own stories, reflecting your joys, heartbreaks, and the complexities of human relationships.

So, I wholeheartedly agree with people who say ‘MacArthur Park’ is a song that continues to gain significance as the years go by. Its meaningfulness and power only deepen with time, making it a cherished companion on our journey through life.”

JULIO says:

“‘MacArthur Park’ is a moving and emotionally charged song, beautiful in every aspect. The delivery by Richard Harris was truly on point, capturing the essence and depth of the lyrics with incredible skill. It’s remarkable to witness his talent and versatility, not only as a singer but also as a great talent on the silver screen. Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of watching several of his movies, including ‘The Deadly Trackers’, ‘The Barber of Siberia’, and ‘Gladiator’, among others. It’s truly inspiring to see how he effortlessly transitioned between singing and acting, excelling in both realms. Not many entertainers possess such remarkable abilities and can leave a lasting impact in both the music and film industries. Richard is indeed a true legend, leaving behind a remarkable legacy through his artistry. His contributions to music and cinema will forever be remembered and celebrated. May his soul rest in peace, knowing that he touched the hearts of many and left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment.”

104 Responses

  1. Oh contraire, to the “nay sayers”…….I believe that McArthur Park is one of the “best songs of all time” and it’s creator, Jimmy Webb, wrote it and many other wonderful songs for Richard Harris’s dubut album, A TRAMP SHINING.

    • Gia says:

      I agree. It’s a beautiful song. Hits me to the core, because I can relate to the song. Sad but true?

    • when I was alone for the first time in my life says:

      it all depends on where you were and who you were in love with in July 1966 when tears ran down my pillow as I tried to put back the pieces of my broken heart listening to this song. now, 2022, I have outlived the beautiful object of my passion, but the sadness remains as I occasionally peek at the few remaining photos of us back then and realize that you can never have that recipe again

      • Anonymous says:

        I hope that if your heart was ever broken ? that Love was ignited in your Heart and your relationship will forever Grow! This recipe is much better and won’t ever be left out in the Rain! Love, Peace and Continued Success!

      • Anonymous says:

        Me too! The love of my life and still is in a large part of my HEART! Her name Was Suzie…just like Webbs love!
        Richard Harris was coming off his Camelot film which was really very good…Saw it in Washington DC with Suzie…. 1968

      • DruryJournal says:

        As long as your relationship was intact, and you lost your partner due to natural causes, the cake was never left out in the rain. God just put in the freezer for safekeeping when he called your partner home. I pray that you will both be reunited as you enter God’s kingdom to join your partner.

        I’m praying this for both of you!

      • Clive Earby says:

        You didn’t listen to this in 1966, as it was not written until ’67.

    • Jim Morgan says:

      I love Jimmy’s version on Ten Easy Pieces. Who the heck knows what it’s about, but sometimes I cry when listening to it.

    • Mark Hetherington says:

      The thing I never understood is why Harris sing MacArthur’S Park, with a ‘S’. Always seemed odd to me, especially as it wasn’t written that way in the title. Nice song, but never a favourite of mine.

    • Clive Earby says:

      Totally agree, it is a work of sheer genius!

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree. It is The Best Song. People who hate it just can’t understand!

  2. Ian Doherty says:

    I agree with James Byrne, and Richard Harris sings the song with real feeling that I don’t find in other versions.

  3. Chrissy says:

    I’ve just played it to my 34 year old daughter and she thinks it’s hysterical. I loved it. I was 17 at the time and didn’t understand a word of it. No one did!

    • Deborah says:

      I agree with you. I haven’t listened to this song in 30 years and have been crying for the last day. It is a song that brings out emotion of loss. A loss that you wish never ended and you don’t believe in your heart it will ever be replaced

  4. Kirk says:

    One of my all-time favorites. Green icing and all.

  5. LaneY3 says:

    I am in bits about this song at the moment. I was (am still) in love with a musician from many years ago. I’ve never got over him – he had to move to the USA for his career & I knew I couldn’t so I moved home & didn’t let him know where I was – it seemed the kindest thing for both of us. He married & has 2 grown up children & I have a husband, Recently I’ve found my musician again playing online each week because of the pandemic. He knows I am listening because we have exchanged some brief messages online. Last week he played Macarthur Park……what on earth am I to think?…..

    • Susie Reality says:

      What on earth are you to think? Nothing!
      Please do not give it a second thought. May I offer my experience because I am dam sure it will be very similar experience for you as well. When I was a young girl of 22, I worked for a big oil and gas company where I met a handsome young man, who was 13 years older than me. We fell in love and had a brief “affair.” I say “affair” because sadly that is what it was. I did not know he was married at the time because he did not wear a ring and he never mentioned his wife. She apparently spent the summer months in Montreal, her hometown. He was my first love, and even after we broke up (after I had learned the truth), I quit my job, and never stopped loving him UNTIL now. During the pandemic, we started emailing each other about a month or two prior. I am now grown up, very successful in my career, never married. He has 3 grown children and is now divorced. I soon learned after 6 months of emails with him, that he is not and never was what I thought he was. I looked at him through the eyes of a young girl, not as a grown woman. Yes, he is still good looking, educated, and smart, but he is still arrogant, self-absorbed, selfish, only interested in sex. He is French, and I now see what a “Diva” he was and still is. I wasted years thinking he was the one who got away — Oh Lord, how lucky I am that I never ended up with him. I now have an understanding of why their marriage was so difficult — it’s because of him. I am amazed it lasted as long as it did. I dumped his ass recently, recalling some not-so-nice things he would say about me and about his wife back then. I wasted precious time and years thinking about him. Don’t let romance or good sex memories cloud your reality or mess with your relationship integrity with your husband. There is a reason for everything and a reason why you didn’t end up with the muscian. Don’t be foolish thinking there is something more there. So he played MacArthur Park — Well, all I can say is this was Jimmy Webb’s story about his first love, and even though they got back together later on, it didn’t last. Also, you have to ask yourself: Would you like it if YOUR HUSBAND was engaging in brief messages online with a woman he was once in a relationship with? Someone who is playing “MacArthur Park?” The answer is no. The answer to your question is: Laugh it off, don’t take it serious that he played “MacArthur Park.” He’s got no business talking to you either if he is married. You’ve got no business talking to him because YOU are married. You are dreaming if you think any good will come from this — it won’t. Seriously, don’t give it a second thought and stop sending him emails. Respect yourself and your marriage.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wow..that’s heavy!

    • Gerry says:

      i stumbled across this and it’s almost 2022 and you probably won’t ever see this but i hope you didn’t pay attention to Susie Reality
      i hope you still listen to your musician
      what were and are you to think? He did the song because he LOVED you just like you loved him. Your the lost love of HIS life. He never forgot you or ever will. Don’t ever let the love you have in your heart go out for him. Some people go their entire lives without knowing what that feeling is and the only thing worst is never knowing or feeling that undying love for someone. DON’T let that fire go out.

    • Geegaw says:

      My ex just posted a new, very cool, and humorous version of this by Dr John Cooper Clarke – another great contribution to the lexicon. I would love to read something into it but he has been very happily married for 26 years with two awesome children and so all I can tell myself is don’t.

  6. Patrick says:

    Yeah, this song was probably the worst song ever written.

    The music is bad enough, but the lyrics are absolutely embarrassing. The metaphor of a cake being left out in the rain is as ridiculous as any I’ve heard. Does anyone really think of their relationships like a cake they mixed, baked, and possibly assembled (like a layer cake) as they iced it. Making cake is not usually a joint project, so it would suggest that only person was invested in the relationship while the other is not. And the fact that he will “never have that recipe again” seems to confirm this. Does his partner not have the recipe? Then why was he investing so much time and energy into the relationship with a clearly disinterested partner who lets him do all the work into making this cake? At least it’s an original metaphor. Probably because if this idea had occurred to any other lyricist, they would recognize it as ridiculous and leave it out of their song.

    Basically, all the lyrics read that way. It’s an attempt to sound lofty and poetic, but falls flat. The language isn’t elevated so much as stilted.

    “Spring was never waiting for us, girl;
    It ran one step ahead,
    As we followed in the dance.”

    Is Spring running ahead of you or dancing? This is trying to cram too many conflicting metaphors into one sentence. Speaking of which…

    “Between the parted pages and were pressed
    In love’s hot, fevered iron
    Like a striped pair of pants.”

    What do the parted pages of the book represent? And since when do we run (or dance) between parted pages? And I’ve heard love likened to a lot of things, but this is the only time I’ve heard it likened to a flat iron pressing striped pants. Bizarrely, this metaphor is actually the tamest one in the whole song.

    “There will be another song for me
    For I will sing it
    There will be another dream for me
    Someone will bring it.”

    We usually dream our own dreams; no one brings them to us.

    “And never let you catch me looking at the sun.”

    I hope not. That would blind you.

    “And my passion flow like rivers through the sky.”

    Rivers don’t flow through the sky. They usually flow on the ground.

    I’m glad Jimmy Webb was able to put the pain of his heartbreak into words, if it helped him process his grief. However, he should have refined and altered the lyrics before he shared them with the rest of the world.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are a genuine and undiluted id*ot. End of story

    • Susie says:

      The song is all about feeling… it is art. Turn of your brain and experience the music. This is ART.

      • Att says:

        Lyrics are a bit overrated.. Arrangement, the music, the strings were not… That part is the genius of jimmybwebb

    • Stew says:

      Bulls–t comment

      • Mary says:

        I agree. I still think of my love long ago when I hear the part “After all the loves of my life yes after all the loves of my life you’ll still be the one and I ask myself why.”

    • Yellow cotton dres says:

      Have you ever baked a cake, not an easy task. Specially if you don’t have the recipe

    • Patrick....another Patrick... says:

      another Patrick here…your analysis is too harsh… the striped pants does not work for me at all.
      between the parted pages is good… think of a book like a memory that you can go back and forth through. I am willing to concede the metaphor of the cake is a bit odd…maybe building a snowman and having it melt, but heh McArthur Park is in LA, no snow, …

      • Vintagegirl says:

        Patrick is a di*k with not a creative bone in his body. If you have nothing to do but dissect lyrics Patrick you have an empty life, certainly no emotions and no sensitivity. I bet some woman in your life wishes she left you out in the rain. Creating is an art. Anyone can criticize, especially soulless folks.

    • Anonymous says:

      well you are an idiot and I take it SINGLE.

      Here is a song you can comment on, The Bitch is Back..

  7. Anonymous says:

    Sorry Patrick, but your critique is ,hmm, only half-baked. Ah, well, you’re entitled to your opinion, and all of us old folks ,who fell in love with the song way back when, will continue to love it as we reminisce…

    • Patrick says:

      Love it as you wish, Anonymous. However, my criticism was spot on. The music is abysmal (although I applaud Weird Al Yankovick for giving it new life in his parody, “Jurassic Park”) and lyrically, the metaphors are not only logically skewed (rivers flowing through the sky) and overwrought, but embarrassing.

      And I haven’t even touched on the fact that Jimmy Webb wrote this song for his 17-year-old bride, and their wedding party included their 19-month-old child, which would indicate that Jimmy impregnated Patsy when she was 14 or 15.

      • Ron says:

        Patrick, I think you are absolutely right and although I agree with you, I still love the song for all of it’s goofiness. I was raised on the simple, dramatic and overly romantic songs of the fifties, and this song fits that genre. I really like the different tempos and the build-up to the crescendo. Romance is not logical.

    • Pat McKnight says:

      Agreed! I am 86 and I remember when this song , sung by Richard Harris, was first a big hit & then, ten years later, when it was revived by Donna Summers and it was a big. Hit for her as well. I think it is interesting that it has. Been performed by so many artists over so many years and provokes such strong reactions.. i am. Dry fond of it..

  8. Larry says:

    Obscure metaphorical references make music, yes green icing left out in the rain and all. Beats the Beetles “i Wanna Hold Your Hand” which played to far too much acclaim, and still does.
    ps: Love the song. Loved McArthur’s Park, Los Angelos.

    • Masterpeice says:

      My first true love broke up with me and broke heart when this song first came out in 1968. I am now 73 and still play the song every once and awhile and it brings back the pain and emotions that have lingered in my heart for over 50 years. When I turned 50, I met this girl again and asked her to lunch. We were both married and had successful lives with wonderful children and spouces. While at lunch she told me that I was the only man she ever loved. I got married at 37 ato a wonderful girl after dating hundreds of beautiful women included a beauty queen who was 1st runner up in the miss American pagneat. None of these women gave me the same feelings of love that I had with my first love, who was also the woman I first had sex with. After we reunite in 1996, we both divorced our spouses and lived together for a few years before she died of cancer.

      MacArther Park is a song that people who have truly been in love and lost that person, will understand. Not only the words but the feelings and emotions between the lines. They are not just words printed on a music sheet. The song captures the feelings and emotions of true love that only those who have truly loved, will understand. Your are blessed if you are one of these people. You know who you are.

      • Anonymous says:

        True love is about willing the best for someone. It’s about wanting eternal happiness for them in heaven. This life is fleeting. True love is not a feeling or a passion. It’s not about breaking your marriage vows and committing mortal sins together.

  9. Bill says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with those who feel this song is wonderful. I am old enough to fondly remember the original version, which is still, my favorite, recorded by Richard Harris in 1968. At the time I was 18-19 years old, caught up in the Vietnam military draft, and gravely concerned about where my life was going. The cake metaphor is slightly corny, but I’ve always found the song absolutely heart-wrenching. The only part of the song I could have done without is when the tempo speeds up, about 2/3 of the way through. Otherwise, I still love the song, after all these years.

    • Masterpiece says:

      When the tempo picks up, the songs pulls together the emotions and pain that are left behind with after such a heart wrenching experiences and how hard it is to move on with your life to the melody of another song. “And after all the loves of my life, you will still be the one. Ohhhhhhh no! “

  10. Andrea, Bournemouth, England. says:

    Andrea from England. This was my mums favourite song back in the day, so we are playing it in its entirety at her funeral next week, it is not to everyone’s taste, it took me a while to get my head around it!
    I do believe the writer was watching his one true love getting married in the park, he was sheltering from the rain and as it dripped down the glass it made it look as though the cake was melting.
    Who knows?
    All i know is it’s very emotional and will have my family in tears, how do I follow that with my speech?!!!

  11. Anonymous says:

    The comments made my night …. So did the lonely wife ever meet up with sad musician….

  12. Anonymous says:

    Did Jimmy Web actually get his wife pregnant when she was 15?

  13. E. Sam A. says:

    Jimmy Webb moved from Tennessee to California with his mom in the sixties, after his mom passed away, a young Jimmy Webb became a music major at San Bernardino Valley College, he wrote MacArthur Park after his three year relationship that failed. Webb wrote the lyrics and music, he invited Richard Harris to perform the song in Hollywood, Webb’s on harpsichord and other friends performed in the song.This song allows for only time — and a music major — to discover the metaphors, as for you young critics, I doubt you can write a better song and have a successful music career, receive 8 Grammies or other awards, now at 74, Jimmy Webb lives in New York City. MacArthur Park is beautiful and painful, it’s a timeless song.

  14. Jerry says:

    Hell, I thought it was about an LSD trip! McArthur Park is MELTING in the dark!

  15. Buster says:

    I’m 86 and got most of the metaphors as a lost love lived rent free in my mind for over 40 years. Another song did come along and I did sing it but I never forgot that special lady from the past and never will.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Buster, I am 72. Have always loved this song. Now, listening to it I am powerfully reminded of that special “one”. He died a while ago. I got to sing more songs later, but he has a special place.

  17. James says:

    MacArthur Park is the title, but the lyrics go “MacArthur’s Park” (possessive). A 7 minute break for deejays in need of an extended rest room break The song is rift with meaning–especially if you’re an acid head. In my 82 years, no song comes close to matching the imagery, ambiguity, and fervency. Jimmy Webb himself performed his song on David Letterman’s show, accompanied by Paul Schaffer and the CBS Orchestra. (available on YouTube) “Lookout below! Lookout below! Coming down! Coming down!” Definitely an LSD trip.

  18. James says:

    CORRECTION: In my previous post, change “rift” to RIFE (I should have first looked it up).

  19. Boozo (Turajski). says:

    Someone once told me that the song had to do with a woman having an abortion. That is, the cake left out in the rain represented the unborn child. There seems to be acid overtones to the song. The girl’s yellow dress cascades like a wave. I was 9 years old when the song came out in 1968. I think an entire book could be written about the song and its various meanings. And no, it doesn’t contain the worst lyrics. “Da-do-do-do, da, dah, dah, dah–that’s all I want to say to you…” by the Police is a good example of “worst lyrics.” Interestingly, MacArthur Park , on the western side of downtown Los Angeles, is only several blocks away from the Ambassador Hotel, where RFK was assassinated on June 5th, 1968. I always yoke these two things together when I hear the song. Jimmy Webb may have been a bad drug user back in the late 60s, but that Oklahoma Dawg had talent, which cannot be denied. 1968 and 1969 were both explosive years in the U.S., both politically and culturally.

    • Wendy says:

      Not believing my eyes that I’m reading this. I was a young kid when this song came out I also got the idea it was about an abortion. I had nobody to talk to about anything I came up with that crazy idea on my own from listening to the song.

  20. Boozoo says:

    The up-tempo part of the song is the best part of the song.

    • Elwood Blues says:

      It’s the only good part of the song.

      Webb could have just sang “My love left me, and I miss her.” There, much easier than inventing esoteric poetry that makes no sense.

      And bring the cake inside, fer cryin out loud!

      (On a side note, Maynard Ferguson did a great 10-minute version of the song, great because it’s all instrumental and therefore has none of the asinine lyrics.)

  21. Doug says:

    I thought the song is something I dreamt of as a kid
    I still have no the lyrics mean
    No easy answers
    I know the lyrics are dramatic and sad
    The vocals about something precious he has lost perhaps the lover died
    Never to be shared again ever

  22. Anonymous says:

    I haven’t heard this song for fifty years. I was around 9yrs old when it was first released and I remember how much sadness I felt with some of the lyrics. Listening to it now touched my heart all over again. To those who make fun of it, you just don’t get it.

  23. Kalevankangas says:

    Time is like a petrified forest of people and places and sometimes parks where you’ve been. Memories of those special at a special moment that you wish would have lasted forever though they hardly even existed beyond your dreams. Wish I could remember her face now. But hey, I remember her name and the hill leading to a semetary gate we used to walk to together. We never went there because the gate was closed at night and only met occasionally somewhere nearby where there was music and we danced and we laughed. Of course we were younger then. Of course I would go there now when I’m older. No one left the cake out in the rain. No one closed the gate. It just stayed that way. After all you still could be the one.

  24. Tim says:

    Came to this thread via a news article about gangs controlling the park. Had no idea the actor Richard Harris recorded it. And the comments on this thread hint at how the emotional and memory parts of the brain and the rational parts can be so wildly disconnected! Enjoying the ride down the Google rabbit hole.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Being commercially successful does not make it good. As Kevin Matthews said…”It doesn’t have to be good to be classic.”

  26. Anonymous says:

    If you don’t like the lyrics, check out the instrumental version done my Maynard Ferguson. An awesome arrangement.

  27. Anonymous says:

    This song was playing during Robert Kennedy’s brings that dark period back to life every time I hear this song..As for negative comments Only THOSE that have an ear to really HEAR the song WILL “GET IT.”..IT IS A PIECE OF MUSICAL ART ONLY THOSE THAT SEE WILL APPRECIATE ITS BEAUTY

  28. trixie says:

    This is a wonderful song . Those people that don’t like it – no one puts a gun to their head and tells them to listen to it. Get a life, people.

  29. Melody Lover says:

    McArthurs part for me is a great song. I do not care what people say. I can’t get enough of the melody and Richard Harris voice.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Romantic love has the shelf life of a fart in a wind tunnel. ?

  31. David Brash says:

    why is it so many singers think it is Macarthurs Park instead of Macarthur Park ??

  32. Anonymous says:

    I had an English professor in college back in the 60’s say the song was about having an abortion.
    Seems it could relate to several interpretations like it or not.

  33. Larry says:

    Sinatra did a very good version. He only recorded the slower part and it was a perfect vehicle for him. Very moving.

  34. B.A.R. says:

    I loved the song, the lyrics, and the message then and now. You could say this was the story of my life. T and I were together about 7 years but due
    to circumstances we had to part. He never married but Iater I did. My husband was unfaithful and we divorced.
    Many years later, T. and I reconnected, and it seemed like it was in the 60’s again. Due to geographics, time, and the fact that we were older at this point, we would see each other when we were in town and speak on the phone at times.
    T. Passed away several years ago, but he remains the love of my life. So……. I thoroughly love the song. When I hear it I will always remember the bittersweet memories.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Heard this song when I was 18 with “first love of my life” !
    Remember everything we experienced…we have separate lives then.
    Still find her in FB ! today.

  36. Anonymous says:

    The point of it is that the lyrics are completely insane. Here he is…Richard Harris…singing his heart out. The music itself is wonderful. Over the top, then you consider the crazy lyrics. Every single time I hear this song, it cracks me up. I never get tired of it. It’s like being on an acid trip, without the complications. I believe theis song came straight from the hand of God. The greatest musical joke ever written.

  37. says:

    I wrote a comment but it hasn’t been approved yet!!??

  38. Bobby Longstaff says:

    That song has been written in the context of a man’s personal feelings about a broken relationship which he portrays in such a way that many people have appreciated it, as I do, and I feel that this song is a valuable piece of art from a gifted writer. I don’t know the figures in sales but I was 11 years old when this was released, never paid any attention to it then but I have an innate ability in poetry and likely in writing lyrics as well though I haven’t. I can identify with the song-writer’s ability to express meanings in a n form of life’s experiences common to us all and he has done that in this song which I’m sure will be appreciated more in the company of those who can lay down the temptation to criticize something in an abstract form.

  39. Anonymous says:

    I heard the song last night at a performance of SUMMER about the life of Donna Summer. As much as I loved and still love this song and Donna Summer, I never even knew she recorded it. In my mind it will always belong to Richard Harris and of course Jimmy Webb. Richard Harris did not have a good singing voice but it didn’t matter. From 1966 to 2022 and look how many people have a feeling for the song. I think that makes it great.

  40. Wilhelm says:

    I was just spending some time in UCR after graduating in Peru. A girl I met introduced me to Jim Webb. The Lineman of the County was another good song. Frankly I had no idea what the lyrics meant, but the song was great. I especially liked the instrumental intermezzo. It was powerful!

  41. Veep says:

    By far, Glen Campbell performing this with the Sioux Falls Orchestra in 2002, is the best rendition of this song. Gives me goosebumps. Glen Campbell made Jimmy Webb’s songs iconic!

  42. greg says:

    Thought it was ( and still think) it is the most clunky melodramatic junk from the 60’s.

  43. Garry ,Tucson , Arizona says:

    What once was there will never be that hour of splendor in the grass again .

  44. Steve MacArthur says:

    This song has massive memories for me. I was on the terraces at Gillingham football club in 1978 when Donna Summer’s MacArthur Park came on over the tannoy.
    This was my first hearing of the tune and being a young boy I was listening intently to the lyrics. And what a surprise they were! I heard the line about leaving the cake out in the rain and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This immediately caught my attention so I focused on all the words afterwards. Not many songs stick in your mind after 45 years do they?
    Is that line a metaphor or did he actually see a cake in the rain in the park?
    I think it’s subconsciously there. After researching this song my money is on metaphor for sure.

    I remember the game wasn’t playing on the pitch during this song so it must’ve been five to 3 before kickoff or possibly half time. So I can pinpoint exactly where I was standing and this song mesmerised me.

    Funny how you remember such iconic times in your life.

    I can’t remember the score or the away team but I can clearly see myself standing there listening and stuck to the floor with amazement. I think it’s such a sad song and reminds me of being me as a young boy. I wish I could go back and change some things hundred percent I do.

    I love the part in it where she laughs then sings and cackles at the end of 16 bars, no other song does that which is why this is a standout disco classic that will never ever die

  45. Michael Lord says:

    The music is pretentious, portentous yet simultaneously magnificent. The lyrics are overwrought, disjointed, many fail to make any sense.

    Isn’t the ensemble a perfect description of lost love? It’s a song that somehow captures the incomprehensibility, permanence and scale of loss. It’s failings are surely it’s strengths.

  46. Anonymous says:

    At age 71, is still brings me to tears. Most unforgetable, passionate, emotional makeout session of my life. Thanks for the memory Jimmy Webb, Richard Harris, and…

  47. AnnieMae says:

    “After all the loves of my life I’ll be thinking of you…and wondering ‘why’….” God, that just slays me. The whole song is perfection. Have to have “been there”, I suppose, for this song to click.

  48. Dawn says:

    Wasn’t just about the whole world on acid (or sumpin else) in1968?? Strange metaphors and strange lyrics were everywhere back then. Songs like “I had too much to dream last night”, “Lucy in the sky with diamonds” & “Green tamborine” were latched on to by all the tripping minds. So for all of you who feel MacArthur was an awful song, may I suggest a hit (or two) of acid before listening to the song again!!! You’ll probably feel and think differently then.

  49. MickDavid says:

    Generally speaking, professional critics are morons. Great song!

  50. Anonymous says:

    To all the lyric haters, you are taking the words way too literally. It’s symbolism.

  51. CK says:

    This is a magnificent song and sung even more magnificantly by Richard Harris. It makes me so sad since my husband died but it is also healing at the same time. Absolutely love this song.

  52. I am the Walrus says:

    Wow, it’s amazing people take this song so seriously. Back in ’68 we all thought it was simply about dropping acid and tripping out in MacArthur Park.

  53. A Song I Adore says:

    I absolutely adore this song. I fins some of the lyrics to be lovely and others haunting…I love every version and think the meaning is up to the listener.

  54. Patrick....another Patrick... says:

    We can all agree it is an interesting song. Richard Harris, Richard Burton, any Richard could read the phone book and make some ladies cry… I think overall it is pretty good. I like the metaphor of the book, the pages being like memories you can go back and forth any time, forever. . getting dumped is very hard,but it happened to all of us, and most of us survived and found another person who was probably more right for us. We may be surprised at which people from our past really remember us. Most have forgotten us, even the ones we may remember the most.

  55. Martin Anguiano says:

    That’s funny I live only 6 blocks away from McArthur park in the Westlake area near downtown Los Angeles

  56. Anonymous says:

    This is 1968 art and poetry for sure and hit the charts at number 2. Jimmy Webb’s true masterpiece is about a true love lost and never being able to have it again. Richard Harris sang it well as he did others marvelously in Camelot. The Irishman pulled this off brilliantly as did Donna Summers and Wayon Jennings a decade later and countless more who have tried. People who don’t understand the lyrics and the metaphors may not have experienced the pain and feelings about a love lost.

  57. Imadickens says:

    I think all of the previous comments say it all. The song is a chameleon. It is whatever the listener feels it is. Metaphors that are not mixed or that are too vivid make a song limited in its appeal to the masses. Whether it’s about abortion, acid, love lost, or nothing, it is what the listener hears. Now, you’d have to admit that’s a pretty successful set of lyrics! The music is beautiful as well.

  58. Joe T says:

    Waylon Jennings actually recorded this song twice with different arrangements. The 2nd version on his “Are You Ready for the Country” album from 1976 is my all-time favorite version of this song. So beautiful, it gets me choked up every time.

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