A Songwriter's Life: Jimmy Webb's The Cake and the Rain
The Cake and the Rain: A Memoir
If you are a fan of pop music, you might have heard of Jimmy Webb, one of the most prolific and successful songwriters of the 20th century. He is the man behind classics like "Wichita Lineman", "By the Time I Get to Phoenix", "MacArthur Park", and many more. But do you know his story? How did he rise from a humble background to become a musical legend? How did he cope with the pressures and temptations of fame? How did he overcome his addiction and find peace in his life?
The Cake and the Rain: A Memoir
In his memoir, The Cake and the Rain, Webb reveals all these aspects of his life in a candid and captivating way. He takes us on a journey from his childhood in Oklahoma to his meteoric rise in the music industry, from his glamorous encounters with celebrities to his dark struggles with substance abuse, from his artistic achievements to his personal failures. He also shares his insights on music, creativity, spirituality, and love. In this article, we will review this book and see what makes it a compelling read for anyone interested in music, history, or human drama.
What is the book about?
The Cake and the Rain is a memoir by Jimmy Webb, one of the most acclaimed songwriters of all time. It covers his life from his birth in 1946 to his recovery from addiction in 1978. It is divided into three parts: The Cake, The Rain, and The Rainbow. Each part corresponds to a different phase of his life: his early years of musical development, his peak years of fame and fortune, and his later years of addiction and recovery.
Who is the author?
Jimmy Webb is an American singer-songwriter who has written hundreds of songs for various artists, including Glen Campbell, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Elvis Presley, Art Garfunkel, Linda Ronstadt, and many more. He is the only artist to have won Grammy Awards for music, lyrics, and orchestration. He is also a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. He has released several solo albums as well as collaborative albums with other musicians. He is still active in the music industry today.
Why is the title significant?
The title of the book is taken from one of Webb's most famous songs, "MacArthur Park", which he wrote for Richard Harris in 1968. The song is known for its surreal lyrics that describe a cake left out in the rain as a metaphor for a lost love. The song was a huge hit and has been covered by many artists over the years. The title reflects Webb's life story, which is full of highs and lows, joys and sorrows, successes and failures. It also suggests that there is hope after hardship, as the rainbow appears after the rain.
The early years: childhood and musical talent
Growing up in a musical family
Webb was born in Elk City, Oklahoma, to a Baptist minister father and a piano teacher mother. He was the third of four sons. He grew up in a musical environment, as his father led the church choir and his mother taught him how to play the piano. He also listened to a lot of music on the radio, especially country and western, gospel, and rock and roll. He developed a love for music and a desire to write his own songs.
Learning to play piano and guitar
Webb started playing the piano at the age of six, and soon showed a natural talent for it. He learned to read music and play by ear. He also learned to play the guitar, which he borrowed from his older brother. He practiced every day, sometimes for hours, and wrote his first song when he was eight. He also joined the school band and choir, and participated in various musical events and competitions.
Writing songs and performing in clubs
Webb moved to California with his family when he was 16, and enrolled in a music school. He also started writing songs professionally, and signed a contract with a music publisher. He wrote songs for various artists, such as The 5th Dimension, The Supremes, The Association, and Johnny Rivers. He also performed his own songs in clubs and bars, sometimes with his friends or other musicians. He gained a reputation as a talented songwriter and performer, and attracted the attention of many record labels and producers.
The peak years: fame and fortune
Collaborating with famous artists
Webb's career took off in the late 1960s, when he collaborated with some of the most famous artists of the time. He wrote several songs for Glen Campbell, such as "By the Time I Get to Phoenix", "Wichita Lineman", and "Galveston". These songs became huge hits and established Webb as one of the best songwriters in the country. He also wrote songs for Frank Sinatra, such as "Didn't We" and "All My Tomorrows". Sinatra praised Webb as "the best writer of love songs in America". He also worked with other artists like Barbra Streisand, Elvis Presley, Art Garfunkel, Linda Ronstadt, and many more.
Releasing hit albums and singles
Webb also released his own albums and singles as a solo artist. His first album, Jim Webb Sings Jim Webb, came out in 1968. It featured some of his own songs as well as covers of other artists' songs. His second album, Words and Music, came out in 1970. It featured some of his most popular songs, such as "MacArthur Park", "P.F. Sloan", and "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress". His third album, And So: On, came out in 1971. It featured some of his new songs as well as collaborations with other musicians. His fourth album, Letters, came out in 1972. It featured some of his most personal songs, such as "Galveston", "If You See Me Getting Smaller", and "Campo de Encino". His fifth album, Land's End, came out in 1974. It featured some of his most experimental songs, such as "Ocean in His Eyes", "Land's End", and "Asleep on the Wind". All these albums received critical acclaim and commercial success.
Winning awards and recognition
Webb won many awards and recognition for his work as a songwriter and performer. He won four Grammy Awards in 1968: two for "Up, Up and Away" (Song of the Year and Best Contemporary Song), one for "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" (Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Male), and one for "MacArthur Park" (Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist). He won two more Grammy Awards in 1969: one for "Wichita Lineman" (Best Country Song) and one for "MacArthur Park" (Best Engineered Recording). He also received several nominations for other awards, such as the Academy Award, the Golden Globe Award, the Emmy Award, and the Tony Award.
The later years: addiction and recovery
Struggling with drugs and alcohol
Facing legal and personal troubles
Webb's addiction also caused him many legal and personal troubles. He was arrested several times for drug possession, driving under the influence, and other offenses. He also faced lawsuits from his former collaborators, managers, and publishers over royalties and contracts. He also lost many of his friends and family members, who either died or distanced themselves from him. He also divorced his first wife, Patsy Sullivan, with whom he had six children. He remarried twice, but both marriages ended in divorce as well.
Seeking help and finding redemption
Webb finally decided to seek help and find redemption in 1978, after a near-fatal overdose. He checked into a rehabilitation center and underwent therapy and counseling. He also embraced his Christian faith and joined a church. He quit drugs and alcohol and started to rebuild his life. He resumed his musical career and released several albums in the 1980s and 1990s, such as Angel Heart, Suspending Disbelief, Ten Easy Pieces, and Twilight of the Renegades. He also reconciled with some of his former friends and family members, and remarried his third wife, Laura Savini, in 2004. He also became a father again to a son, Justin Webb.
Summary of the main points
The Cake and the Rain is a memoir by Jimmy Webb, one of the most influential songwriters of all time. It tells his life story from his childhood in Oklahoma to his recovery from addiction in 1978. It covers his musical development, his fame and fortune, and his addiction and recovery. It also reveals his insights on music, creativity, spirituality, and love.
Evaluation of the book's strengths and weaknesses
The book's strengths are its honesty, its detail, and its style. Webb does not shy away from telling the truth about his life, even the ugly and painful parts. He provides a lot of detail about his musical career, his personal relationships, and his inner struggles. He also writes in a captivating style that mixes humor, emotion, and wisdom. The book's weaknesses are its length, its structure, and its focus. Webb sometimes goes on too long about certain topics or events that are not very relevant or interesting to the reader. He also jumps back and forth between different time periods and locations without clear transitions or explanations. He also focuses more on his professional life than his personal life, leaving some gaps or questions unanswered.
Recommendation for potential readers
The book is recommended for potential readers who are interested in music, history, or human drama. It is especially suitable for fans of Jimmy Webb or the artists he worked with. It is also suitable for anyone who wants to learn more about the music industry in the 1960s and 1970s, or the challenges and rewards of being a creative person. The book is not recommended for readers who are looking for a short, simple, or linear story, or who are easily bored or offended by details of drug use or sexual encounters.
Q: When was the book published?
A: The book was published in 2017 by St. Martin's Press.
Q: How long is the book?
A: The book is 352 pages long.
Q: What are some of the famous songs that Webb wrote?
A: Some of the famous songs that Webb wrote are "Up, Up and Away", "By the Time I Get to Phoenix", "Wichita Lineman", "Galveston", "MacArthur Park", "Didn't We", "All I Know", "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress", "The Highwayman", and many more.
Q: What are some of the famous artists that Webb worked with?
A: Some of the famous artists that Webb worked with are Glen Campbell, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Elvis Presley, Art Garfunkel, Linda Ronstadt, The 5th Dimension, The Supremes, The Association, Johnny Rivers, Richard Harris, Donna Summer, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, and many more.
Q: What is Webb doing now?
A: Webb is still active in the music industry. He released his latest album, SlipCover, in 2019. He also performs live concerts and tours around the world. He also writes books and articles about music and other topics. He lives in New York with his wife and son.