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The Cake And The Rain by Jimmy Webb review

Genius songwriter writes eyebrow-raising memoir

Cover art for The Cake And The Rain by Jimmy Webb

Now revered as one of the great songwriters, the man behind MacArthur Park, Wichita Lineman and countless others was, as he first soared, mocked as a mainstream “square”. A sensitive type, he hated that, believing his hallucinatory lyrics were just as out-there as those of The Beatles or the Stones. Perhaps he overcompensated. Glen Campbell’s first words to him were: “Get a haircut.”

In this very colourful, candid memoir, Webb reveals that he really was a rock’n’roll wild man. One night of drink, drugs and chaos with Harry Nilsson and John Lennon left him in a coma, after which he had to re-learn the piano all over again. Tales of egomania, debauchery and a complex love life are matched by insights into his craft and the industry’s workings, and there’s some Olympic-standard A-list name-dropping. Arch anecdotes, beautiful prose. There won’t be a better music-related book this year.

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.