Cover vs. Original

MacArthur Park


Donna Summer's melodramatic, operatic Disco cover blows away Richard's dramatic "acting" style reading of the psychedelic Jimmy Webb classic.

- Eric Henwood-Greer, Victoria, Canada, 25.06.2006


Donna Summer
1978

vs.

Richard Harris
1968

CD-Cover: Donna Summer - Bad Girls (Deluxe Edition) 70.8 % 29.2 % CD-Cover: Richard Harris - A Tramp Shining
Results of the voting: Cover versus Original
Click on the cover for listening Click on the cover for listening
Donna Summer 3838 Votes Richard Harris

Comments about MacArthur Park:

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I really don't want to take anything away from Donna as we all know that she is a great singer, but there is a completely different feel to her version. And with that said, I prefer Mr. Harris'. Im all for change, but Donna's version is almost comedic. This is a very serious song. Keeping that in mind, Donna does things with the melody that is just not acceptable. What is up with that yell she does at the climax point?! My God! Doesn't anyone find that just a bit out of control in a very bad almost unprofessional sense? Yeee-haaaa! That's more in line with a pop Country tune and actually, a bit amaterish. That coming out of her mouth, Im rather surprised. I don't think she was feeling this song the way it should have been felt, otherwise such a yell would never have even been allowed. Im surprised at the producers for allowing it quite frankly. You would think someone close to her may have clued her in, you know.. "aaaaa, Donna? Can we try something different there?" Even including the instrumentation, her version of the tune takes on more of a free style jam for an all out improviosational free-for-all. Sorry Donna, I love you sweetheart, but I don't think you should have chose that one.
- Todd, New York, United States, 20.01.2011
While Donna Summer certainly lent her vocal talent well to Jimmy Webb's piece, I think Richard Harris' original recording offers a far more intimate, surreal experience. Harris picked up the song from a stack of demos presented by Jimmy Webb, who admonished Harris by saying that the song had been turned down by everyone else it had been shopped to. In that regard, Harris and Webb stepped out on a limb.

Consider it- You have a seven minute orchestrated epic. It moves from a sort of bizarre angular limping love song, to a soft, soaring(albeit breathily) lament, then out of nowhere this full on psychedelic freak-out hits like a ton of brick before ebbing back into a final chorus that reflects both bridge and intro. And at the front of it all is Richard Harris, a man who is a mediocre singer at best.

Harris brings a sincerity to the song, that prior to him, no one wanted to take a chance on. Summer's version doesn't really seem to take you on the emotional roller coaster ride of the Harris Recording. You have wistfulness, remorse, regret, anger, confusion, and sorrow all rolled up with Harris' injured crooning and over the top falsetto.

Yes Summer belts it out, but "MacArthur Park" is a song about metaphor ridden, gut wrenching heartbreak. Have you ever tried to sing when you're on the brink of emotional melt down? Everyone sounds like Richard Harris in that situation, and that is where the genius of the original lies. It is intricately composed, and has highly elevated stylistic lyrics, yet combined with Harris' injured animal voice, anyone can figure out that Harris isn't really talking about the cake.

Harris paints a surreal dream like world that is beautiful and terrifying at once, where as Summer's signing sterilizes the song. In a dark room alone, Richard Harris's quaking voice chills me right to the bone. Summer, while far more enjoyable for casual listening, fails evoke the catharsis provided by Richard "Dumbledore" Harris's original collaboration with Jimmy Webb.
- T.E.B. Harding, Murfreesboro, United States, 11.10.2009
While Donna Summer certainly lent her vocal talent well to Jimmy Webb's piece, I think Richard Harris' original recording offers a far more intimate, surreal experience. Harris picked up the song from a stack of demos presented by Jimmy Webb, who admonished Harris by saying that the song had been turned down by everyone else it had been shopped to. In that regard, Harris and Webb stepped out on a limb.

Consider it- You have a seven minute orchestrated epic. It moves from a sort of bizarre angular limping love song, to a soft, soaring(albeit breathily) lament, then out of nowhere this full on psychedelic freak-out hits like a ton of brick before ebbing back into a final chorus that reflects both bridge and intro. And at the front of it all is Richard Harris, a man who is a mediocre singer at best.

Harris brings a sincerity to the song, that prior to him, no one wanted to take a chance on. Summer's version doesn't really seem to take you on the emotional roller coaster ride of the Harris Recording. You have wistfulness, remorse, regret, anger, confusion, and sorrow all rolled up with Harris' injured crooning and over the top falsetto.

Yes Summer belts it out, but "MacArthur Park" is a song about metaphor ridden, gut wrenching heartbreak. Have you ever tried to sing when you're on the brink of emotional melt down? Everyone sounds like Richard Harris in that situation, and that is where the genius of the original lies. It is intricately composed, and has highly elevated stylistic lyrics, yet combined with Harris' injured animal voice, anyone can figure out that Harris isn't really talking about the cake.

Harris paints a surreal dream like world that is beautiful and terrifying at once, where as Summer's signing sterilizes the song. In a dark room alone, Richard Harris's quaking voice chills me right to the bone. Summer, while far more enjoyable for casual listening, fails evoke the catharsis provided by Richard "Dumbledore" Harris's original collaboration with Jimmy Webb.
- T.E.B. Harding, Murfreesboro, United States, 11.10.2009
It appears none of these persons have heard the Four Tops version, which completely blows
these two singers versions away. None of these two singers compare with the power and
strength delivered by the Four Tops. You are completely overtaken and swayed by them as if
it was originally composed by them. They make it completely their own. I would rank Donna
Summer's as second. She brings it alive again with a special taste to it. Richard Harris should definitely be appreciated as the first interpreter of the song. Yet I've never heard Waylon Jennings version. And am looking towered listening for his version. According to the awards he has received he must be one powerful singer.

- F. boa, New York City, United States, 13.09.2009
Richard Harris' campy version is the only appropriate one for that song.
- WW85, NYC, United States, 29.04.2009
Richard Harris' campy version is the only appropriate one for that song.
- WW85, NYC, United States, 29.04.2009
Neither - the song stinks. But if you have to listen to it, at least get yourself a copy of Maynard Ferguson's version. A high-note trumpet is easier on the ears than both of these pieces of ...
- Marc, Seattle, United States, 31.03.2009
When there's a dilemma of this kind I always go with the Homosexual lobby: go Donna!
- Markster, The Naughty North, England, 26.03.2009
Jesus, both versions suck. Can't we just vote that it's a crap song?
- Chris, London, United States, 16.03.2009
Jesus, both versions suck. Can't we just vote that it's a crap song?
- Chris, London, United States, 16.03.2009
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