Leaving the Cake in the Rain: A Celebration of the Music of Jimmy Webb

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How it’s New York: The concert took place at the legendary Carnegie Hall.
How it’s Irish: Jimmy’s ancestry is part Irish; one of his biggest hits, “MacArthur Park”, was recorded by his dear friend, legendary Irish actor Richard Harris, and every morning he has a double shot of Bewley’s Irish Breakfast Tea.

“When we need a song, we go to Jimmy”.

The Carnegie Hall stage came alive on a recent Wednesday evening with a lineup that featured several living legends armed with an impressive collection of pop culture prizes – everything from Grammys to Oscars to Tonys to Hall of Fame immortality – but the real stars of this particular show were the songs of Jimmy Webb.

“The Cake and the Rain,” a celebration of Webb’s musical career that also

served as a benefit concert for the Alzheimer’s Association and the I’ll Be Me Foundation (in honor of his longtime friend and fellow music icon Glen Campbell) featured many of the colleagues, collaborators, and disciples of the fabled songwriter, who paid tribute by singing his tunes and telling some stories. Hosted by Michael Douglas, the incredibly diverse program included Judy Collins, Johnny Rivers, BJ Thomas, Dwight Yoakum, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Shelea, Liz Callaway, and Graham Nash, who acknowledged the famous venue with the rousing If These Walls Could Speak.

In addition to that impressive list, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., the heart and soul of The Fifth Dimension, were also on hand to sing one of Webb’s biggest hits, Up Up and Away. Art Garfunkel, who Webb credited with “introducing him to rock n’ roll”, recalled that he felt an almost religious connection with him from the start, as he imagined “Jimmy as the church organist and me as the choir boy.” Garfunkel then treated the audience to the soulful ballad, All I Know.

The party also included several fellow Oklahomans, including Hanson, the 90’s boy band who harmonized on The Highwayman, and country star Toby Keith, who commented before his powerful cover of MacArthur Park;

“This might be the most challenging part of my career – so let’s knock it out of the park!”

He did.

The honoree himself also took the stage to reminisce about the origins of his most renowned collaboration – specifically his first meeting with Glen Campbell, who upon seeing the young composer for the first time declared “Get a haircut!”

This gem of a tale was followed by a moving performance by Glen’s youngest daughter, Ashley. Webb also honored American veterans with his powerful Galveston, and later returned for the finale, joining Amy Grant for Adios, a touching tribute to Campbell and Linda Ronstadt.

A surprise guest, cabaret legend Michael Feinstein, may have summed it up best when he said,

“When we need a song, we go to Jimmy”.

One can hardly blame them – for Jimmy Webb’s music transcends genres and has touched millions. If these walls could speak, indeed.

 

 

 

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Copyright 2017 New York Irish Arts