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Download The Cake and the Rain: A Memoir by Jimmy Webb - The Story of a Musical Legend

Jimmy Webb: The Cake and the Rain - A Memoir of Music and Madness

Jimmy Webb is one of the most prolific and acclaimed songwriters of all time. He has written some of the most memorable songs in pop history, such as "Up, Up and Away", "By the Time I Get to Phoenix", "Wichita Lineman", "Galveston", "The Worst that Could Happen", "All I Know", and "MacArthur Park". He has also worked with some of the most iconic artists in music history, such as Glen Campbell, Frank Sinatra, Art Garfunkel, Donna Summer, Linda Ronstadt, and many more. He is the only artist ever to win Grammy Awards for music, lyrics, and orchestration, and he has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Jimmy Webb: The Cake and the Rain download

But behind his success lies a turbulent and tragic story of personal struggles, addiction, divorce, depression, and near-death experiences. In his memoir, The Cake and the Rain, Webb reveals the highs and lows of his life in music, from his humble beginnings in Oklahoma to his rise to fame in California, from his creative triumphs to his personal tragedies. He also shares his insights into the art of songwriting, his relationships with famous singers and musicians, his spiritual journey, and his legacy as one of America's greatest songwriters.

In this article, we will explore Jimmy Webb's life story through his memoir, The Cake and the Rain. We will learn about his early years, his rise to fame, his downfall, his recovery, and his current projects. We will also discover why Jimmy Webb matters as a songwriter and as a human being.

The Early Years: From Oklahoma to California

Jimmy Webb was born on August 15th, 1946, in Elk City, Oklahoma. He was the third of four sons of a Baptist minister and a piano teacher. He grew up in a strict and conservative household, where he was expected to follow his father's footsteps and become a preacher. He was also exposed to music from an early age, as he learned to play the piano, the organ, and the accordion. He developed a passion for music, especially for classical composers like Bach and Chopin.

Webb's family moved frequently, as his father took different pastorates across Oklahoma, Texas, and Missouri. Webb attended several schools, where he often felt like an outsider and a misfit. He also faced racism and bullying, as he befriended black students and defended them from white supremacists. He found solace in music, as he joined the school choir and band, and started writing his own songs.

When Webb was 16, he moved to California with his mother and brothers, after his parents divorced. He enrolled in a high school in Colton, where he met his first girlfriend, Susan Horton. He also met a music publisher named Johnny Rivers, who offered him a songwriting contract. Webb dropped out of school and moved to Hollywood, where he began his professional career as a songwriter.

The Rise to Fame: Writing Hit Songs for Pop Stars

Webb's first big break came in 1967, when he wrote "Up, Up and Away" for The Fifth Dimension, a vocal group that blended pop, soul, and jazz. The song was a huge hit, reaching number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and winning four Grammy Awards, including Song of the Year and Record of the Year. Webb became an overnight sensation, as he received praise from critics and fans alike for his catchy melody, uplifting lyrics, and sophisticated arrangement.

Webb's next major success came in the same year, when he wrote "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" for Glen Campbell, a country singer who was looking for crossover hits. The song was a masterpiece of storytelling, as it depicted a man leaving his lover behind and driving across the country. The song was also a masterpiece of musicality, as it featured Webb's signature chord changes, Campbell's smooth vocals, and a lush orchestral accompaniment. The song reached number 2 on the Billboard Country chart and number 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also won two Grammy Awards, including Best Contemporary Male Solo Vocal Performance and Best Contemporary Song.

Webb and Campbell formed a close friendship and a fruitful partnership, as they collaborated on several more songs that became classics of pop and country music. These include "Wichita Lineman", "Galveston", "Where's the Playground Susie", "Honey Come Back", and "Highwayman". Webb also wrote songs for other artists who admired his work, such as Frank Sinatra ("Didn't We"), Art Garfunkel ("All I Know"), The Supremes ("I Guess I'll Miss the Man"), Barbra Streisand ("One Less Bell to Answer"), and Thelma Houston ("This Is Your Life").

Up, Up and Away: The Fifth Dimension

"Up, Up and Away" was Webb's first Grammy-winning song, and one of his most popular songs ever. He wrote it in 1966, inspired by a hot air balloon that he saw in Las Vegas. He wanted to write a song that would capture the joy and freedom of flying in the sky. He also wanted to write a song that would appeal to both young and old audiences.

He pitched the song to several artists, but none of them liked it or understood it. He finally found a group that was willing to record it: The Fifth Dimension, a vocal quintet that consisted of Billy Davis Jr., Marilyn McCoo, Florence LaRue, Lamonte McLemore, and Ron Townson. They were looking for a new sound that would differentiate them from other groups at the time.

They recorded the song with producer Bones Howe, who added a colorful orchestration that matched Webb's vision. They also added their own harmonies and vocal stylings that gave the song a unique flavor. The result was a song that sounded like nothing else on the radio: a cheerful and catchy tune that blended pop, soul, jazz, and easy listening.

The song was released in May 1967 as the first single from their album of the same name. It was an instant hit, reaching number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number 9 on the Billboard R&B chart. It also became an international hit, reaching number 1 in Canada and Australia, number 5 in the UK, number 6 in Germany, number 7 in France, and number 8 in Japan.

MacArthur Park: Richard Harris

One of Webb's most ambitious and controversial songs was "MacArthur Park", which he wrote in 1967 for Richard Harris, an Irish actor who was best known for his roles in films like Camelot and A Man Called Horse. Harris had met Webb at a fundraiser in Los Angeles, and asked him to write some songs for his debut album, A Tramp Shining.

"MacArthur Park" was a seven-minute epic that consisted of four sections with different tempos and moods. The song was inspired by Webb's breakup with Susie Horton, and the park where they used to meet. The song featured vivid imagery and metaphors, such as a cake left out in the rain, a striped pair of pants, and a yellow cotton dress. The song also featured a dramatic orchestral arrangement by Webb, who conducted a 40-piece orchestra for the recording.

The song was released in April 1968 as the lead single from Harris's album. It was a surprise hit, reaching number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number 4 on the UK Singles Chart. It also received two Grammy nominations, for Best Contemporary-Pop Vocal Performance, Male and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s). However, the song also received mixed reviews from critics and listeners, who either praised its originality and complexity or criticized its length and lyrics. Some radio stations refused to play the song or edited it to shorten it.

"MacArthur Park" became one of Webb's most famous and influential songs, as it opened the door for longer and more experimental songs in pop music. It also became one of the most covered songs of all time, with versions by artists such as Waylon Jennings, Donna Summer, Maynard Ferguson, Frank Sinatra, The Four Tops, Andy Williams, Tony Bennett, Liza Minnelli, and Weird Al Yankovic.

Other Famous Artists Who Sang Webb's Songs

Webb's songs were not only popular with pop and country artists, but also with other genres and styles of music. He wrote songs for some of the most legendary singers of all time, who added their own interpretations and emotions to his lyrics and melodies.

One of Webb's most notable collaborators was Frank Sinatra, who recorded several of his songs, such as "Didn't We", "All My Tomorrows", "Whatever Happened to Christmas", and "Bein' Green". Sinatra admired Webb's craftsmanship and sophistication, and even called him "the best pop songwriter in the world". Webb also wrote a song specifically for Sinatra, called "I Will Drink the Wine", which was inspired by Sinatra's love of wine and life.

Another famous singer who sang Webb's songs was Art Garfunkel, who was one half of the duo Simon & Garfunkel. Garfunkel recorded some of Webb's most beautiful and poignant songs, such as "All I Know", "Scissors Cut", "Skywriter", and "In Cars". Garfunkel's angelic voice and delicate phrasing matched Webb's lyrical and melodic sensibility perfectly.

Webb also wrote songs for some of the most successful female singers of all time, such as Donna Summer, Linda Ronstadt, Barbra Streisand, Thelma Houston, and Dionne Warwick. He wrote songs that showcased their vocal range and power, such as "MacArthur Park", "Adios", "One Less Bell to Answer", "This Is Your Life", and "Do You Know the Way to San Jose". He also wrote songs that expressed their emotions and personality, such as "Last Dance", "Easy For You To Say", "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress", "Only One Life", and "Whoever You Are I Love You".

The Downfall: Drugs, Divorce and Depression

Despite his success and fame as a songwriter, Webb was not happy or fulfilled in his personal life. He suffered from drug addiction, alcoholism, and depression, which affected his health, relationships, and creativity. He also faced financial troubles, legal disputes, and professional setbacks.

Webb's drug addiction began in the late 1960s, when he started using cocaine and heroin. He was influenced by the rock & roll lifestyle and the peer pressure of his famous friends and clients. He also used drugs to cope with his loneliness and insecurity. He became addicted to heroin for nearly 20 years, and almost died from an overdose in 1983. He was saved by his friend and manager Joni Mitchell, who rushed him to the hospital and stayed by his side.

Webb's alcoholism also started in the late 1960s, when he began drinking heavily to deal with his stress and anxiety. He drank to excess, often mixing alcohol with drugs and medication. He also drank to numb his pain and emotions. He became an alcoholic for several years, and suffered from liver damage and blackouts.

Webb's depression also stemmed from the late 1960s, when he experienced a series of losses and traumas. He lost his father to cancer in 1968, his girlfriend Susie Horton to another man in 1969, and his friend Jim Morrison to a drug overdose in 1971. He also witnessed the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, and the violence of the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement. He felt hopeless, guilty, and suicidal.

Drugs, Divorce and Depression: A Table

Problem Cause Effect --- --- --- Drug addiction Rock & roll lifestyle, peer pressure, loneliness, insecurity Overdose, health issues, financial troubles Alcoholism Stress, anxiety, pain, emotions Liver damage, blackouts, legal disputes Depression Losses, traumas, hopelessness, guilt Suicidal thoughts, creative slump, professional setbacks The Recovery: Finding Love, Faith and Inspiration

Webb's life began to change for the better in the mid-1980s, when he decided to quit drugs and alcohol and seek help for his depression. He also found love, faith, and inspiration that helped him overcome his challenges and resume his musical career.

Webb's love came in the form of Patsy Sullivan, a model and photographer who he met in 1986. They fell in love and married in 1987. They had six children together: Christiaan (born 1987), Justin (born 1989), James (born 1993), Cornelius (born 1995), Camille (born 1997), and Angeli (born 2001). They also adopted two more children: Charles (born 1991) and Susie (born 1994). Webb's family gave him stability, happiness, and support.

Webb's faith came in the form of Christianity, which he rediscovered in 1988. He had grown up in a religious family but had drifted away from his faith as a young man. He returned to his faith after a spiritual awakening that occurred during a concert in Nashville. He felt God's presence and grace in his life. He became a born-again Christian and joined a church. Webb's faith gave him peace, forgiveness, and purpose.

Webb's inspiration came in the form of music, which he never stopped making and loving. He wrote a book about his craft and passion, called Tunesmith: Inside the Art of Songwriting, which was published in 1998. In this book, he shared his knowledge, experience, and advice on how to write songs, from the technical aspects of melody, harmony, and lyrics, to the emotional aspects of creativity, expression, and communication. He also revealed some of the stories and secrets behind his famous songs.

He also became a solo artist and performer, who sang his own songs and played his own piano. He released several albums of his original material, such as Suspending Disbelief (1993), Ten Easy Pieces (1996), Twilight of the Renegades (2005), and Just Across the River (2010). He also toured the world with his songs, playing in venues ranging from small clubs to large theaters. He also collaborated with other artists on stage and in the studio, such as Billy Joel, Lucinda Williams, Carly Simon, Michael Feinstein, and Glen Campbell.

Tunesmith: Inside the Art of Songwriting

Tunesmith: Inside the Art of Songwriting is a book written by Jimmy Webb and published by Hyperion Books in 1998. It is considered one of the best books on songwriting ever written, as it covers both the art and the craft of creating songs.

The book is divided into three parts: The Basic Toolbox, The Advanced Toolbox, and The Writer's Life. In the first part, Webb explains the fundamentals of songwriting, such as melody, harmony, chords, scales, modes, keys, intervals, rhythm, meter, tempo, and structure. He also discusses the elements of lyrics, such as rhyme, meter, imagery, metaphor, simile, alliteration, assonance, consonance, and word choice. He also gives examples of how to use these tools effectively and creatively.

Honors and Awards

Webb's achievements and contributions to music have been recognized and celebrated by various organizations and institutions. He has received numerous honors and awards, including:

- The Grammy Awards: Webb has won six Grammy Awards, including Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Best Contemporary Song, Best Contemporary-Pop Vocal Performance, Male, Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s), and Best Country Song. He has also been nominated for 14 more Grammys in various categories. - The Songwriters Hall of Fame: Webb was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1986, becoming one of the youngest members ever. He also received the Johnny Mercer Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Songwriters Hall of Fame, in 2003. He served as the Chairman Emeritus of the Songwriters Hall of Fame from 2010 to 2014. - The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame: Webb was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1990, becoming one of the few non-country songwriters to be honored by the organization. - The National Academy of Songwriters: Webb received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Songwriters in 1993, for his outstanding body of work and influence on other songwriters. - The ASCAP: Webb received the Voice of Music Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) in 2006, for his exceptional career achievements and his unique voice as a songwriter. - The Ivor Novello Awards: Webb received the Special International Award from the Ivor Novello Awards in 2012, for his international contribution to British music. - The Bistro Awards: Webb received the ASCAP-Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bistro Awards in 2016, for his musical and storytelling accomplishments over his five decades-plus career. The Cake and the Rain: A Snapshot of a Life in Music

In 2017, Webb published his memoir, The Cake and the Rain, which he described as "a snapshot of a life in music". The book covers his life from his childhood in Oklahoma to his early success in California, from his drug addiction and near-death experience to his recovery and resurgence. The book also reveals some of the stories and secrets behind his famous songs and collaborations.

The title of the book comes from one of Webb's most famous lyrics, "Someone left the cake out in the rain", from "MacArthur Park". Webb explained that the cake symbolized his innocence and optimism, which were lost in the rain of reality and hardship. He also said that the book was not a typical autobiography, but rather a collection of memories and impressions that captured his essence as a person and as a songwriter.

Conclusion: Why Jimmy Webb Matters

Jimmy Webb is one of the most important and influential songwriters of all time. He has written songs that have touched millions of people around the world, across generations and cultures. He has written songs that have shaped and defined pop music and culture, from the 1960s to the present day. He has written songs that have showcased the diversity and richness of musical genres and styles, from pop to country, from rock to soul, from jazz to classical. He has written songs that have displayed the artistry and craftsmanship of songwriting, from the melody to the lyrics, from the harmony to the orchestration.

Jimmy Webb is also one of the most inspiring and resilient human beings of all time. He has overcome personal and professional challenges, from addiction to depression, from divorce to bankruptcy. He has found love and faith, family and friends, happiness and peace. He has never stopped making and loving music, sharing his passion and wisdom with others.

Jimmy Webb is a legend, a genius, a hero. He is a tunesmith, a storyteller, a poet. He is Jimmy Webb.


Here are some frequently asked questions about Jimmy Webb and his songs:

- Q: What is Jimmy Webb's net worth? - A: According to Celebrity Net Worth, Jimmy Webb's net worth is estimated at $10 million as of 2021. - Q: How many songs has Jimmy Webb written? - A: According to his official website, Jimmy Webb has written over 500 songs in his career. - Q: What is Jimmy Webb's most famous song? - A: This is a subjective question, as different people may have different opinions and preferences. However, some of his most famous songs include "Up, Up and Away", "By the Time I Get to Phoenix", "Wichita Lineman", "Galveston", "MacArthur Park", "The Highwayman", and "All I Know". - Q: Who is Susie Horton? - A: Susie Horton was Jimmy Webb's first girlfriend, who he met in high school in California. She was the inspiration for some of his songs, such as "MacArthur Park" and "Worst That Could Happen". She married another man in 1969 and divorced him in 1972. She later remarried and became Susie Horton Ronstadt, the sister-in-law of Linda Ronstadt. - Q: What is the meaning of "MacArthur Park"? - Q: What is the cake and the rain in Jimmy Webb's memoir? - A: The cake and the rain in Jimmy Webb's memoir are symbols of his life in music. The cake represents his success and fame, which were sweet and satisfying, but also came with a pri


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