Weekly Obsession 2023-9-27: Aubrey Logan’s rendition of MacArthur Park”

Let me set the scene. I just moved to Playa del Ray last week; the apartment is still in desperate need of furniture. I found this really fantastic mid-century modern couch on Facebook Marketplace for $200. Perfect?-well, it’s in Koreatown, so not quite. Don’t trust Google Maps, because you never know when a spontaneous parade will barrel through LA and leave you stuck in a line of cars for the better part of twenty minutes. We found ourselves in this very circumstance on Monday, my roommate Aviv and I, sitting in a line of cars right next to MacArthur Park. 

This is the actual MacArthur Park from that Maynard Ferguson song”

Maybe MacArthur Park could be a household name for ten other reasons first, but we both like music so Aviv made a comment to me, although I was unfamiliar (disappointing, I know). As I write this, I now know that actually Richard Harris’s MacArthur Park, released in 1968, is the original version that was jazzified by Maynard Ferguson two years later in 1970. They’re both good, and Richard Harris delivers an excellent early-era example of male falsetto that would become a mainstay in 70s music. I also learned that I had indeed heard this melody several times before - unnamed and floating in my head.

But on the day, stuck in traffic, Aviv instead recommended a rendition from a contemporary underground” artist, Aubrey Logan. Listen to it here, it’s amazing. It jumps into double-time bossa nova which just seems wrong on paper for this track, but it totally works better than you could imagine. Her rendition preserves the melodramatic bittersweet nostalgia for the mise en scène of a park long-since desecrated that you get in the original ballad (“someone left my cake out in the raaaaain!”) but adds such a jazzy spin that could only have been accomplished by Aubrey wielding a trombone with an unrelenting fervor.

I’ve listened to it like 15 times this week, I’m obsessed. I think Aubrey has earned her spot in the ever-growing ranks of artists who have covered this song, right next to Frank Sinatra and Weird Al Yankovic (his version is Jurassic Park”, if you were curious).

See you next week!

// Callan