Monday, June 1, 2015

24. Don McLean - American Pie

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"I met a girl who sang the blues and I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away.

I went down to the sacred store where I heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn't play."

"Do you believe in rock and roll?
Can music save your mortal soul?"

Design and photo by George S. Whiteman. Album produced by Ed Freeman. United Artists 1971.

"American Pie" has been said to be Don McLean's boyhood memories upon learning the death of Buddy Holly. "The day the music died" in the opening verse was the 1959 plane crash that ended the lives of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper. More  

It was also the story of America, or the evolution of the American music scene from the 1950s through the 60s. Thus "the jester on the sidelines" is Bob Dylan, "the king with the thorny crown" is Elvis,
"the quartet in the park" was The Beatles, and "Jack Flash" was Mick Jagger. Believing that an artist's work should stand by itself, McLean generally did not offer explanations for his work's
themes or meaning, though he did describe the title song as involving "a sense of loss".

On 13 February 2015, the Daily Telegraph reported that McLean's original manuscript of "American Pie," one of the most iconic songs of its time, could fetch up to $1.5 million 
when it is sold on April 7, auctioneers Christie's have said. The 16 pages of handwritten and typed drafts include notes and deletions for the recording that became a hit
after it was released in 1971. It was named a Song of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.

"Vincent" is a tribute to Vincent van Gogh. It is also known by its opening line, "Starry Starry Night", a reference to Van Gogh's painting The Starry Night. The song
also describes different paintings done by the artist. McLean wrote the lyrics in 1971 after reading a book about the life of the artist. The following year,
the song became the number one hit in the UK Singles Chart. In the US, "Vincent" also peaked at number two on the Easy Listening chart. 

Everyday, "Vincent" is played by the staff of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam for its visitors.

There is an often repeated claim that the song "Empty Chairs" was the inspiration for the popular song "Killing Me Softly with His Song". Lori Lieberman, who first
recorded the song, claims that she wrote a poem after seeing McLean perform "Empty Chairs" in concert and that co-authors Charles Fox and Norman
Gimbel re-worked it into the song, which she later recorded on her debut album. Fox denies this, saying that the song’s lyrical genesis was
found in a notebook of Gimbel’s that contained the phrase “Killing me softly with his blues.” They updated the phrase and wrote
the song which Lieberman liked and said reminded her of watching McLean perform. More

(A) American Pie - Till Tomorrow - Vincent - Crossroads - Winterwood

(B) Empty Chairs - Everybody Loves Me, Baby - Sister Fatima - The Grave - Babylon

"American Pie" video from TrueBlueCdnEh on YouTube.