Friday, June 10, 2016
RICHARD FREAKIN' HARRIS SINGS MACARTHUR FREAKIN' PARK TOTALLY FREAKIN' LIVE!
MacArthur Park is a song that looms large in Shuffle Function's legacy. More specifically, Richard Harris' version, the first and greatest version, looms large. When we first started the show 15 years ago Shelley swore up and down that it was the greatest song ever recorded. This was not an argument that I bought into, but eventually the song wore me down. It's a great damn song, and we relish the opportunities to sing along with it on the air, high note or no.
It has always been a dream of ours to find actual footage of Harris performing the song live. In 1968 he did it live on The Tonight Show for the first time (after which the song jumped from #21 to #1 on the charts) and then he toured for the album. He references the performance and the tour in this entertaining clip from Carson's final week on the Tonight Show. Jump ahead to 12:00 to hear about the song, but you should really watch the whole clip. Richard Harris is a master storyteller.
Anyway, we looked and looked, but there was never any footage of the Tonight Show performance popping up. Finally, a few years ago, a clip surfaced from some kind of countdown show, and it had brief segments of Richard performing the song with a full orchestra on stage. The bad part: There are a bunch of talking heads walking all over it, so you only get bits and pieces here and there. Still, it was actual performance footage, and beggars can't be choosers.
Recently, Dangerous Minds posted a MacArthur Park Megapost, and it was FILLED with incredible performances by a variety of artists. including Jimmy Webb (the writer of the song) and Glen Campbell. I was excited enough to see the post, because any new performances of the song are welcome, but then I scrolled down the page and saw something that made me yell "HOLY S**T!" in the studio (mics off, thankfully). Shelley had no idea what the deal was, because I was frozen staring at the screen unable to even describe what I was seeing. Right there in the post was HOLY CRAP OH MY GOD RICHARD HARRIS PERFORMING MACARTHUR PARK LIVE!
The clip is the one that was mined for the countdown special, except that the talking heads weren't messing with it. It's full on glory. Richard Harris is over the top, the orchestra is bringing all the pomp and grandeur, and it's everything that one could dream of.
I refuse to even write more about the performance. It's only been on YouTube for four weeks, and all I'm doing is keeping you from watching it. FOR PETE'S SAKE, WATCH IT!