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May 1, 2007

Someone left the cake out in the rain

“MacArthur Park” is an epic song written by Jimmy Webb and first performed by Richard Harris on his album A Tramp Shining in 1968. The seminal recording topped the music charts in Europe and peaked at number two on the U.S. charts. The song is named after MacArthur Park, a park in Los Angeles, California.

It was an unusual single, running for more than seven minutes, with a long, climactic orchestral break. The lyrics were more symbolic and sexual than descriptive (featuring the notable line, “Someone left the cake out in the rain”). I always think of the Donna Summers version when i think of this song but Jimmy Webb probably does it best. Listen to sample #6 to hear Donna Summers.

They Might Be Giants make an oblique reference to the song’s most famous verse in “It’s Not My Birthday”.

    “When this gray world crumbles like a cake
    I’ll be hangin’ from the hope
    That I’ll never see that recipe again”

Spring was never waiting for us, girl
It ran one step ahead
As we followed in the dance
Between the parted pages
And were pressed in love’s hot, fevered iron
Like a striped pair of pants

MacArthur’s Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
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
And I’ll never have that recipe again
Oh, no!

I recall the yellow cotton dress
Foaming like a wave
On the ground around your knees
The birds, like tender babies in your hands
And the old men playing checkers by the trees

MacArthur’s Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
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
And I’ll never have that recipe again
Oh, no!

~ ~ ~ ~

There will be another song for me
For I will sing it
There will be another dream for me
Someone will bring it
I will drink the wine while it is warm
And never let you catch me looking at the sun
And after all the loves of my life
After all the loves of my life
You’ll still be the one

I will take my life into my hands and I will use it
I will win the worship in their eyes and I will lose it
I will have the things that I desire
And my passion flow like rivers through the sky
And after all the loves of my life
Oooh, after all the loves of my life
I’ll be thinking of you
And wondering why

~ ~ ~ ~

MacArthur’s Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
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
And I’ll never have that recipe again
Oh, no!
Oh, no!
No!
Oh, no!!

~MacArthur Park, by Jimmy Webb, sung by Donna Summers

I just wanted to share this as I’ve often made reference to the famous line from the song only to be greeted with blank stares and calls to the authorities. Hopefully, others will come to appreciate the beauty that is leaving “the cake out in the rain”. If I find the full version online, I’ll let you know.

Share on Twitter or posted to Lyrical @ 12:43 pm

11 comments

  • At 6:26 pm on May 1, 2007, Radioactive Jam commented:

    So… you’re saying the song is supposed to make sense?

  • At 7:59 am on September 27, 2007, abi commented:

    i love that song. you aided my quest for the cake song.

    i heard it on that potter puppet pals video.

  • At 2:11 am on January 8, 2008, alex commented:

    i dont like how it doesnt say ive i knew you were coming i would have baked a cake!

  • At 9:42 am on May 31, 2008, David D. commented:

    Thank you so much for putting this up! I have no idea why, but I woke up this morning with the song in my head. I heard it on the radio in 1968 when I was 12 years old. I’ve never been able to hear lyrics very well, so it’s good to be able to read them all.

  • At 9:08 pm on June 7, 2008, abr commented:

    i thought the song’s title was “cake out in the rain”; silly me! somehow i had forgotten i loved this song when i was ten years old; it takes me back to a great time in my life

  • At 1:10 am on December 20, 2008, Paddy McAloon & Jimmy Webb: The Highwayman « Daddy or Chips? pingbacked:

    […] a bit funny; he wrote Witchita Lineman, you know, and got Richard Harris and Donna Summer to lament the cake being left in the rain) and Paddy McAloon (Prefab Sproutsperson, godlike genius etc etc) recorded this version of […]

  • At 8:19 pm on March 31, 2009, asdf commented:

    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
    And I’ll never have that recipe again”

    How could i ever forget those lines..huh.. it reminds me of someone..

  • At 11:42 am on June 22, 2009, Dave commented:

    FYI: In your posting you say the song was written by Jimmy Webb, but then at the bottom of the song lyrics you have the song written by Richard Harris…?”

  • At 11:55 am on June 22, 2009, archshrk commented:

    Good catch Dave. Jimmy Webb wrote MacArthur Park and it was first recorded by Richard Harris (as I stated in the opening paragraph) Later, at the end of the lyrics section, I meant to say it was [first sung] by Richard Harris and [then covered] by Donna Summers, but I see how it wasn’t clear so I’ve updated the post to avoid confusion.

  • At 1:14 pm on January 22, 2011, hippychhik commented:

    i never believed this was a real song when my partner sang it for me! now its the song we sing after a few too many,when were out camping, out shopping anytime only problem is is we end up rolling on the floor laughing! love it love it love it! cant help but wonder who it was that left the cake out though!

  • At 8:56 pm on September 15, 2011, Jan commented:

    I’ve always thought that the song is about the passage of time–things that happened today or yesterday are gone forever. Even if it is occurring right now, in a moment it will be gone, never to be experienced exactly the same again. I don’t think it is funny, I think it is sadly nostalgic. You’ll never have that recipe again. The song is about loss.

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