MacArthur Park Turns 45

My wife and I love to listen to Jimmy Webb in concert. He is an engaging story-teller and songwriter.

Jimmy Webb wrote, arranged, and produced “MacArthur Park” made famous by actor Richard Harris. Jimmy Webb and Richard Harris became close friends after they recorded the album, A Tramp Shining which featured the single. “MacArthur Park”.

“MacArthur Park” turned 45 years old this year and Jimmy Webb finally got to do it in the real park in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, California on Saturday June 15, 2013.

The inspiration for “MacArthur Park” was the relationship and breakup between Webb and Susan Ronstadt, a cousin of singer Linda RonstadtMacArthur 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 says Beatles producer George Martin told him that “MacArthur Park” influenced the Beatles’ decision to let “Hey Jude” run beyond the 7-minute mark when they recorded it a couple of months after Harris’ record became a hit.

Now, half a century down the line, the composer believes the world is ready to hear it at least one more time.

“I have it on my new record coming out in September,” Webb said, noting that his recording for his new “Still Within the Sound of My Voice” album due Sept. 10 features a vocal arrangement by one of his musical heroes, Beach Boys creative leader Brian Wilson. – Courtesy of the LA Times

Jimmy Webb, writer of “MacArthur Park, ” opens the Levitt Pavilion season with his performance in MacArthur Park. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times / June 15, 2013)



Isaac Hayes – Hot Buttered Soul

I miss Isaac Hayes. He made outstanding contributions to soul music. He first achieved success as songwriting partner with David Porter and as record producer of several of Sam & Dave’s big hits, “Hold On I’m Comin“, “Soul Man”, and “I Thank You” on Stax Records. He is well-known for his musical score for the film Shaft (1971). For the “Theme from Shaft“, he was awarded the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1972.

My favorite solo album by Isaac Hayes is Hot Buttered Soul. This album is straight ahead soul delivery. What I love about the album is that it is complementary . By this I mean that Isaac Hayes a great songwriter in his own right pays tribute to the songwriting duo Burt Bacharach and Hal David with the extended “Walk On By”. Then he ends the recording with an 18+ minute rendition of Jimmy Webb‘s “By The Time I Get To Phoenix”. We so love Jimmy Webb’s songs.

Check out the superb groove that Isaac Hayes on piano establishes with The Bar-Kays on “Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic”. Tasty Wah-Wah playing going on. You will not be able to sit still for that one trust me. 😉

Hot Buttered Soul is a landmark soul gem that you must listen to in its entirety to gain the full appreciation.

God bless you Isaac Hayes you make the music of our heart soulfully complete 🙂

Track Listing

Side One
  1. Walk On By” (Burt Bacharach, Hal David) – 12:03
  2. “Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic” (Isaac Hayes, Alvertis Isbell) – 9:38
Side Two
  1. “One Woman” (Charles Chalmers, Sandra Rhodes) – 5:10
  2. By the Time I Get to Phoenix” (Jimmy Webb) – 18:42

My Harry Nilsson Memories

Today’s blog post continues the theme of music legends of the 70’s with Harry Nilsson. The 70’s were the most fruitful and embryonic decade for the music industry. The singer/songwriter hatched from the egg of rock music to give us an unparalleled dimension of songs and lyrics.

I happened to catch the PBS Special, Who Is Harry Nilsson (and Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?) last night on WNET‘s THIRTEEN which celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year. I have been rewarded many times over the decades with valuable music content from this award-winning public television station.


You owe it to yourself to become enchanted by the magic of Harry Nilsson. There are many revelations about Harry Nilsson and his circle of friends that come to light. I learned how close friends he was with Ringo Starr. Ringo was Harry’s best man for his marriage to Una O’Keefe.

I am especially fond of Jimmy Webb‘s remembrances of Harry Nilsson which I have heard Jimmy Webb recant in stories during concerts. Jimmy Webb was THIRTEEN’s in studio guest last night and he regaled us once more with insight about his dear friend.

The Harry Nilsson biopic caused me to think well when did I first hear Harry Nilsson’s genius?  Harry Nilsson had two hits in the first half of 1969, “One” by Three Dog Night (4/69) and “Everybody’s Talkin’ (From Midnight Cowboy)” 5/69 (written by Fred Neil). Little did I realize that Harry Nilsson had already released three albums by this time.

But the first song of Harry Nilsson’s that I heard was “Without Her” by Blood, Sweat & Tears on their masterpiece recording, Child Is The Father To Man. The song track stood out to me when I first borrowed that vinyl LP from my wife Rosemary when we started dating in February/March 1969.

I spend the night in a chair thinking she’ll be there
But she never comes.
And I wake up and wipe the sleep from my eyes.
And I rise to face another day
Without her …

Copyright Emi Blackwood Music Inc., Golden Syrup Music

My favorite animated cartoon musical is  The Point. I was fortunate to see the original broadcast on ABC-TV in 1971. It captivates the music of our heart in vivid imagination. I couldn’t wait to share it with my son when he was growing up and he loves watching to this day 🙂 Interestingly Ringo Starr is the Father/Narrator in the home video release. The music that Harry Nilsson wrote and performed are truly classic statements.

The funniest memory I have about Harry Nilsson occurred one day on the radio. I was a college FM disk jockey at Fairfield University on WVOF-FM 88.5. I was doing my show when I played a set by Harry Nilsson. I had chosen to play, “You’re Breaking My Heart”. I had grabbed the 45 rpm edition not previewing it before I played it. My friend Jeff was getting set up to do the newscast next in the glass booth across from me. Jeff is singing along and we both realize too late its the unedited version.  Next thing you know it hits the airwaves. Jeff’s mouth drops open and he falls off his chair. I never laughed so hard off the air in my life. That moment still makes me laugh when I hear that song 🙂

You’re breakin’ my heart

You’re tearing it apart

So fuck you

© Universal Music Publishing Group, EMI Music Publishing

Performance Spaces

Yesterday I wrote about Pi Recordings and the importance of their role with avant-garde jazz music. (see Related articles link) Time did not let me write more in-depth about the focused two-week event that Seth Rosner and Yulun Wang are curating at The Stone. The Stone is a non-profit performance space in New York City, dedicated to experimental and avant-garde, in the East Village.

The events planned  by Seth, Yulun and Pi Recordings at The Stone show a cornucopia of avant-garde talent. If we can get it together we want to attend one of the events 8/29-8/31…

Performance Space Events in 2011

Five of the 23 music experiences we attended in 2011 have taken place in performance space settings. Our association with intimate, well designed acoustic spaces commenced in January. My wife and I attended a winter concert at Wesleyan University by The Charles Lloyd Quartet.

We followed that event with the first of two performance space concerts at Stage One Theatre in Fairfield, Ct with Joe Sample on piano in April (we just saw Jimmy Webb in late July at this space).

The next avant-garde performance space event featured the Anthony Braxton Septet at Firehouse 12 in New Haven, CT in May.

Then just last week we enjoyed the swampadellic music of 7 Walkers at the Nancy Marine Studio in Torrington.

Fingers crossed we can add to the repertoire of performance space and avant-garde jazz  events we saw with what Pi Recordings is curating at The Stone!

Jimmy Webb Performance Set List – 7/28/11

Jimmy Webb entertained us with his wonderful songs and personal stories about Richard Harris, Mr. Sinatra and President Clinton just to name a few of the famous celebrities he shared with us.

This is the set list of songs he played during his two hour concert. I bet you recognize a few of them 🙂

Jimmy Webb
Stage One
July 28, 2011

1. The Highwayman
2. Galveston
3. Oklahoma Nights
4. Up, Up and Away
5. All I Know
6. Wichita Lineman
7. What Does A Woman See In A Man
8. Worse That Could Happen
9. Didn’t We
10. MacArthur Park

After the concert Jimmy Webb came out to the lobby, signed his new CD, Just Across The River, shook hands and took the time to talk to us. This was very courteous of Jimmy Webb to do 🙂

Here is how he signs 🙂

Jimmy Webb, Richard Harris – Didn’t We

Cover of "Tramp Shining"
Cover of Tramp Shining

We are looking forward to seeing Jimmy Webb perform in the intimate setting of Stage One in Fairfield, Connecticut tomorrow evening 🙂

“Didn’t We” is my personal favorite song of all Jimmy Webb‘s compositions. That is not an easy choice when you consider all the great songs Jimmy Webb has written over the years.  It was first recorded on the Richard Harris‘s ABC Dunhill Records LP, A Tramp ShiningJimmy Webb wrote all the songs, arranged the musicians, and produced the entire album.” Didn’t We” was the “B” side to the hit single, MacArthur Park”.

Frank Sinatra recorded it for his My Way recording on Reprise. It has also been recorded by Johnny Mathis and Barbra Streisand.