Saturday July 20th, 2024 12:15AM

Don McLean reflects on 50 years of American Pie

The singer of the beloved 1971 folk-rock song “American Pie is on tour to commemorate the song’s 50-year anniversary. The 86-date tour began in January, and McLean will stop at Atlanta Symphony Hall on May 13.

Don McLean spoke on WDUN’s Newsroom, where he opened up about how he feels to have his hit song endure for decades.

“I wanted to do something with my life that would change the world a little bit,” McLean said. “Or maybe make some sort of a musical contribution.”

McLean said that he enjoys writing about people and stories. His other hit song, “Vincent,” explores the tragic life of Vincent Van Gogh. 

McLean’s upcoming album, “American Boys,” takes inspiration from Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol.” It will be released alongside a box set of six albums that McLean released in the 70s

I came up with a song called “Marley's Song (Save Yourself),” McLean said. "And it's really influenced by the movie A Christmas Carol. It's about seeing a movie, but the movie is really your life.”

McLean said that he and his guitar player had been holding onto song ideas for a few years until they sat down to re-write melodies and lyrics. According to McLean, he takes a flexible approach to his songwriting.

“It turned out to be quite an interesting experience writing the song because I don't really know what I'm doing,” McLean said. “So I just sort of start with something and then it happens – or it doesn't.”

He said that he is grateful that his music is still relevant, especially in a climate where dance music is prevalent.

“I look at some of these groups like Taylor Swift, and Dua Lipa,” McLean said. “And there are other ones out there and they run all over the stage and they dance. A live performance is really a dance thing. So it's really been lucky for me to have gotten a lot of songs across with a lot of other great artists at that time period that people still remember.”

He also hopes that new generations of listeners will learn more about American history with “American Pie.”

“They’ll want to know about Buddy Holly, and they'll want to know about Richie Valens and the Big Bopper,” McLean said. “They’ll want to know about 50s rock and roll. Then they’ll want to know about American history, and they'll want to know about other things that are referenced in the lyrics of the song. I think it gets them started thinking about their country in a musical way, which is a nice way to start learning about America.”

Listen to the interview here:

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