7-inch series, part 681 – Donna Summer

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Donna Summer – Mac Arthur Park
label: Philips
year: 1978
side a: Mac Arthur Park
side b: Once Upon A Time
www.donnasummer.com

I love this song. For a long time I thought the lyrics were meant as a joke because of the bit that goes
“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 find the recipe again”

which I found (and still find) hilarious. The song would have been even more genius if it had been a joke – imagine a brilliantly orchestrated seven-minute track about the baking of a cake gone horribly wrong. That would definitelybe among my favourite five songs of all times.

But it’s a love song. Penned by the fantastic Jimmy Webb, writer of other such beautiful songs as “Galveston”, “By The Time I Ge To Phoenix” and “Wichita Lineman” (check Fraser’s great piece on that song), it was first recorded by Richard Harris who became a one-hit wonder with it. After the world had recovered from the shock, a string of other artists gave it a go, and while initially nobody even wanted to go near the song, now it is widely considered a work of genius. Producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte did a great job on the Donna Summer version and this single doesn’t really do it right for it’s only four minutes long, whereas the full version clocks at almost nine.

Which is nice.

Look at my fellow countrymen go wild at Donna Summer’s gig in Rotterdam a couple years ago.

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