Richard Harris’ seven-and-a-half-minute reading of Jimmy Webb’s “MacArthur Park” is not for me. I like watching Harris on-screen well enough, and I like Jimmy Webb’s writing, but there’s something about the way Harris cries over the warm wine, soggy cake and “stripèd pair of pants” that is more than I can stand. Besides, I’m from Los Angeles, and when I hear the name “MacArthur Park” I think of gang murders and police beatings, despite the lovely
gang murder wedding I once attended there.
But Mick Jagger was right: It’s the singer, not the song. What “MacArthur Park” needs is a voice without a hint of mawkishness, a voice that expresses disgust as easily as regret, a voice that has blown out some of its capacity for self-pity: a voice that belongs to an old Northern person. Replace Richard Harris with Dr. John Cooper Clarke, and I’m on board! Nor does it hurt if he’s singing ex-Strangler Hugh Cornwell’s hot new arrangement of the number, over which Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull takes a flute solo reminiscent of Dave Greenfield’s keys on “No More Heroes.” All that is “sweet, green icing” on the cake.
Clarke and Cornwell on location (via Gigslutz)
The video for Clarke and Cornwell’s “MacArthur Park,” filmed on location, is the first taste of the duo’s upcoming album, and it is a treat. If the sight of John Cooper Clarke circumambulating an LA lake in his ‘66 Dylan duds doesn’t make blood rush to your groin and drool stream from your lips, just wait until he goes into the kitchen and actually bakes the fucking cake!
The video after the jump…