Today’s song is “Jurassic Park.” Elizabeth commented, “Since I think you mentioned you don’t like MacArthur Park, this might cheer you up. Plus claymation!” Well, she was half right. I am a big fan of claymation, and in fact, every kind of animation. One of the great things about never having kids is that you aren’t required to ever act like an adult. (Note to all you parents out there: I know you’re all pretenders!)
But she’s wrong about “MacArthur Park.” I quite admire the song. She was probably referring to when I wrote this, “And ‘MacArthur Park’ from the days when metaphor didn’t embarrass Americans.” But that was a complaint about Americans and not the song.
The truth is that I am not much of a fan of strict metaphor. I find that it no longer leads to great art. Most people, however, are are just fine with metaphor but then scoff in the most affected way when it is used in an emotionally vulnerable way. I think songs like “MacArthur Park” and “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” are great. In fact, they are more than great; they are brave.
“Jurassic Park” is a straight parody of “MacArthur Park.” It is clever, as Weird Al Yankovic songs usually are. It does, however, really show off his weakness as a singer. Richard Harris was a far better singer. But that’s a minor point. The animation is also very good. I personally have no problem with Barney, but I thought it was very funny when his head was bitten off by a “real” dinosaur.
Afterword: Jimmy Webb’s Jurassic Park
I can’t get “MacArthur Park” out of my head. The image of a cake in the rain is so idiosyncratic! Who thinks of such things?! Jimmy Webb obviously. And he claims to have actually seen such a thing. But the reason the image works is because it seems almost unthinkable. Who would leave a cake out in the rain? It speaks to the intensity of the feeling and more than makes up for taking the metaphor to its logical conclusion, “And I’ll never have that recipe again.” Apparently, Jimmy Webb likes “Jurassic Park” very much and has even performed it live.