On Tuesday it was pouring rain the whole day. In the background of my mind Richard Harris was singing “MacArthur Park”, all day. I thought that this was due to the weather, until I cast the chart for the song. I noticed that at the time of the recording, on Dec. 21, 1967, the Sun was in conjunction with 346889 Rhiphonos, just as it is now. The Aquarius Full Moon today was opposing the Sun-Rhiphonos conjunction.
346889 Rhiphonos is a centaur planet discovered in 2009. The orbital period is around 35,8 years. It is one of the recently named Kuiper belt objects. The naming was announced on July 23, 2013, a day after the birth of Prince George of Cambridge. Because of the mythology behind the name Rhiphonos, this simultaneity caused some pondering among astrologers at the time.
Rhiphonos was one of the twelve Dionysian Centaurs, which were set by Zeus to guard the infant Dionysus against Hera’s anger. Dionysus’s mother was a mortal woman, and his father was Zeus. The Dionysian Centaurs were originally sprites, but Hera transformed them into ox-horned centaurs, and they drew the chariot of Dionysus.
Dionysus is the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness, fertility, theatre and religious ecstasy in Greek mythology. He is equivalent to the Roman Bacchus. He was also known as Liber Pater, “the liberator”. Dionysus travelled around the world, and among his adventures was the conquest of India. Rhiphonos was one of the commanders of the centaurs who joined Dionysus in his campaign against India.
I cannot recall when I have heard “MacArthur Park” for the first time, but it must have been already in 1968, when the original version of the Irish actor Richard Harris peaked the charts. I was twelve years old. I have loved the song ever since. Many artists have made cover versions of the song, but I have never listened any of the later versions, as Harris’s is the one and only for me. His performance is touching, and you can hear the pain in his voice.
Some people have claimed, that Richard Harris cannot sing. In my opinion his voice is beautiful, and it is his performance, which makes the song so special. Opinions divide, as the song has also been voted as the worst song of all time.
“MacArthur Park” is written by Jimmy Webb, who was only 21 years old at the time. The lyrics are symbolic and tell a true story of the end of a love affair, which Webb had with Susie Horton. They used to meet in MacArthur Park.
The young man of the song, whose relationship has ended, understands, that no matter how hurt he may be at the moment, life goes on, and though this one was the love of his life, there will be other loves. It is a growth story. So he will take responsibility for his life, although his life will never be the same again:
“I will take my life into my hands and I will use it”
I believe that the line is telling something essential about Rhiphonos, too.
Growth means change. Taking responsibility for your life can be frightening, but it is also freeing.
“MacArthur Park” was Richard Harris’s debut as a singer. It was his growth story, too. In an interview for The Guardian in 2013, Jimmy Webb recalls, how at one point during the recordings Harris had said, that “the vocals are a little loud, we need more orchestra.” A few months later he was saying: “The damn orchestra’s too loud!” Harris had gone from wanting to hide his voice to wanting people to hear it.
In the same interview Webb says: “We were a bit afraid of what we’d done. I didn’t know I could write something like that.”
On July 21, 2014, an entire “Late Show With David Letterman” was devoted to the song and titled as “MacArthur Park Night”. At the time there was a quadruple conjunction of the Sun, Jupiter, Rhiphonos and Varuna.
Thank you Chad Townsend for helping me to understand the lyrics of the song.
The lyrics can be found here: http://www.metrolyrics.com/macarthur-park-lyrics-richard-harris.html