The song’s legacy on ‘American Pie’ singer Don McLean: ‘I Don’t Want Any Simplistic Valentine’


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Don McLean wrote his 1971 classic song “American Pie” when he was just 24 years old – and a half-century later, he still serves it on the piping hot stage.

“This is a fertile tree,” the singer / songwriter told LBL Digital about the track’s lasting success. “I mean, it’s been 50 years for giving and giving. I’m just saying this. If I didn’t write it.

The 76-year-old shared that he initially wanted to write a song about America. However, rather than being a love letter to our country, it became more and more of a farewell to the American dream, a loss of innocence in our nation. It refers to the “music of the day,” or the 1959 plane crash that killed Ritchie Valens, JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Buddy Holly, McLean’s childhood idol.

Don McLean, seen here in 1970, said ‘American Pie’ is the gift that keeps on giving.
(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images)

For many, the song has been heavily interpreted by both fans and music critics alike. John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, The Manson Family Murders, The Sudden Death of James Dean, Elvis Presley of the Decline, and Even the Vietnam War – just to name a few.

It also refers to Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, The Beatles or even hallucinogenic drugs. Someone, everyone has their own unique take.

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The lyrics behind The Man continue to keep track of the meaning of the track, insisting it is open to interpretation. However, his initial inspiration is clear.

“What songs are about America in the old days? ‘ McLean explained. “I Didn’t Want Any Simplistic Valentine to Country [that] somehow insinuate the madness of America and the danger in America and the opportunity in America – all of that. [It’s] A big thing to do. “

Buddy Holly has been one of Don McLean's childhood idols.  The singer was just 22 when he died in 1959.

Buddy Holly has been one of Don McLean’s childhood idols. The singer was just 22 when he died in 1959.
(Photo by Steve Oroz / Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images)

“… When you have something like that, and you’re who I am, you carry around a complex idea,” he shared. “You think, ‘Where is the vehicle I can use to do this?’ And the idea of ​​the Buddy Holly plane crash came to me in one go. think I have a way of doing this. ‘ And that’s how it happened. “

The National Endowment for the Arts and the Recording Industry Association of America, the centerpiece of the iconic anthem. The original recording was selected by the National Recording Registry as being “culturally, historically or artistically significant.” The song is also a subject documentary.

Most recently, the song was inspired by a children’s book that was released on June 7 titled “Don McLean’s American Pie: A Fable.” It tells the tale of a newspaper delivery boy in the late ’50s who discovers the joy of music.

Don McLean performs 'Vincent' at 'Immersive Van Gogh' on February 28, 2022, in Los Angeles, California.

Don McLean performs ‘Vincent’ at ‘Immersive Van Gogh’ on February 28, 2022, in Los Angeles, California.
(Photo by Vivien Killilea / Getty Images for Lighthouse Immersive and Impact Museums)

“It’s my hope that… [it] “They really love to read,” McLean said. Maybe… their moms will buy the ‘American Pie’ album, and they can hear the song on the record, and the song will then go along with the book. “

McLean said there is already another book in the works that will be inspired by his track, “Vincent,” the 1971 homage to Vincent van Gogh. The book is expected to be released sometime next year.

“It’s about a little boy who’s an artist,” said McLean. “And we are going to be discussing some of the aspects of mental health in the book. There may be three more books out there, but the character, little Donny, will be a number. He grows up as them. “

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Madonna stars in 'The Next Best Thing'.

Madonna stars in ‘The Next Best Thing’.
(Photo by Getty Images)

However, it is the “American Pie” that many different genres from the artists who are revered. The nearly nine-minute song has been covered by several performers, most notably Madonna. The singer’s version was released in 2000 to promote the soundtrack of her romantic comedy, “The Next Best Thing.” It was reported that BBC Radio 6 voted The Material Girl’s take on the worst cover version of a song.

McLean scoffed at the critics and said he was “delighted” when the now-63-year-old “American Pie.”

“She gave herself a whole new audience and a whole new life, really,” McLean explained. “And the video she did, I think it’s probably the most famous she’s ever made. And the fame is her middle name. But she’s the real thing. She’s not famous for being famous. “And she takes care of an enormous amount of abuse from the press. Yet, she does not care. She just keeps right on, going from strength to strength. I admire that about her.”

American singer-songwriter Don McLean plays a free concert at 85,000 at Hyde Park, London, circa 1975.

American singer-songwriter Don McLean plays a free concert at 85,000 at Hyde Park, London, circa 1975.
(Photo by Anwar Hussein / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

“The American Pie” was one of the earliest impacts that it has ever reported, McLean said in a live song. But these days, he’s singing a completely different tune and proud of its legacy.

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“I only write about things that I’m going through, or I feel,” he said. “And what keeps me going is a performer singing – singing and playing and executing a song that thrills me … I’m not interested in doing it for the money. I just want to do it really well. And that’s one. I love my guitars. I love playing them and I love working with them. And I love my band. “

As McLean looks back on his career, a completely different song comes to mind – 1970’s “And I Love You So.” Elvis Presley recorded the track in 1975 for his album “Today.” The singer made a part of his live concerts until his death in 1977 at age 42.

Elvis Presley is the subject of a new glitzy biopic premiering this week.

Elvis Presley is the subject of a new glitzy biopic premiering this week.
(Photo by Fotos International / Archive Photos / Getty Images)

Presley is currently the subject of a biopic directed by Baz Lurhmann titled “Elvis,” which stars Austin Butler as “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” The film premieres on Friday.

“There’s a story out there about how Elvis wanted to do Dolly Parton’s ‘I Will Always Love You,’ but his manager wanted half the publishing rights,” McLean explained. “Dolly, being a smart businesswoman, she said no. She didn’t regret it, but she was just sad that Elvis never did. Well, the same thing happened to me… I [also] Said, ‘No, thank you.’ But the difference is that Elvis went ahead and recorded the song anyway. That’s how much he loved that song. “

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Don McLean's music is inspiring more children's books in the works.

Don McLean’s music is inspiring more children’s books in the works.
(Photo by Julie Snow / Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images)

“He sang that song every night since then. He had it,” McLean shared. “He sang it in his final concerts… So Dolly didn’t get her song recorded and I did. There was a difference.”

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