Bye Bye Miss American Pie — it hit #1, 50 yrs ago tomorrow

This is one of those songs that quietly disappeared on radio after its initial run. For years it was rarely played. It got brought back with the advent of “Oldies” formatted stations on FM, in markets big and small, and then was overplayed. I’m quite content to hear it once or twice as year, but it was getting played every day on some stations, and people just burned out on it.

The thing that always struck me about “American Pie” is that isn’t really representative of Don McLean’s general musical style. Songs like “Vincent” were closer to what you’d find on his albums, and I have about a half-dozen of them. He was a really good singer-songwriter, but had it not been for “American Pie,” he wouldn’t be remembered today.

Once asked if he “hated” the song, McClean said (paraphrasing): “Why should I? It made me a millionaire overnight.”

“Vincent” is a beautiful song. I like the entire American Pie album, but I don’t have any more of his music.

This one is quite good.

This one is quite bad.

I should pick up a greatest hits for “Crying” and some of the others.

Thanks for the tip @lobotomyboy63 . I just bought the album and am listening to it now.

Many years ago I would do a lot of driving at night and I’d listen to the entire American Pie album. I really like it. Now on long road trips I like playing it still, especially at night.

Long, long time ago
I can still remember how that music used to make me smile

I bought that one cheap and listened to it a few times. The “Critical reception” comments in that link are pretty spot-on. It’s not bad bad, but it is bland and not a good representation of McLean’s talents.

The phrase that summed it up for me from the review: “more than a little corny.” That’s not what I expected from him. Aiming it toward a country audience? Wish I’d known before I bought. Oh, well.

I was reading the reviews of the one I recommended to @Bullitt and I think if it had been released before American Pie, people would have said it fit the curve of maturing, then hitting it big. Have artists ever surpassed their own great albums? Rumours, Breakfast in America, Heartbeat City, Boston (eponymous), Frampton Comes Alive…they put out more good music afterward, but when did the groups score a monster hit album like that again?

You could say the Beatles did.

And four years after The Sounds of Silence, Simon and Garfunkel released Bridge over Troubled Waters

That’s a good description. I enjoyed the album, and thanks again for the recommendation, but at times I wondered if the songs were from earlier in his career.

When I was in high school, in the late '70s or early '80s, I remember a radio DJ mentioning an incident in which McLean was on stage, giving a concert, and he was being interrupted by fans shouting, “Play American Pie!” As the story went, McLean, frustrated by fans not caring about the rest of his music, left the stage. If I’m remembering the story right, McLean didn’t tour again for some time after that.

But, a few minutes of googling on the topic has failed to find evidence of this, so it may be an apocryphal story (or I may be misremembering).

You lucky, lucky bastard.

My brother told me he went to a Beatles concert, and the opening act was the Righteous Brothers. They had had success (You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling) but people still booed them off stage, wanting the Beatles. A brief glimpse seems to confirm:

And Jimi Hendrix dropped out as the opening act for the Monkees. He may or may not have concluded his final appearance on the tour by giving the finger to the fans screaming for Davy

That story is consistent with the language in Don McLean’s concert rider: “If any of Mr. McLean’s compositions are mentioned in the advertising or publicity, AT LEAST FIVE SONGS MUST BE MENTIONED from his list of hits…”

He wants to remind everybody he was not a one-hit wonder.

That’s hysterical.

I always thought equating three singers, no matter how big or how popular, to “the music” was just ridiculously pretentious. Like, some of us are into 70’s rock and junk?

I’m pretty chill about interpretations. Just not worth the effort to hash it out. You’re So Vain is about Warren Beatty? Sure, why not?

Pretty much completely fell off my radar after I played Rock Band and discovered this gem.

(For the record, my favorite Don MacLean song is Castles in the Air, but I’m not passionate about it by any means.)

Pretentious? It’s just a line from a song, a line meant to capture the moment, or the day.

One of the first Beatles books I read (at the age of eleven, in the mid-eighties) was a book called Growing Up With The Beatles by Ron Schaumburg. It was written before John was killed, and was sort of a Wonder Years-like reminiscence of Ron’s own growing-up period against the birth, growth, and breakup of the Beatles. For some reason, it got a lot of scorn in fan circles, but I always liked it–a story about a sheltered eleven-year-old discovering the Beatles, read when I was, well, a sheltered eleven-year-old discovering the Beatles.

Anyway, Ron made that same point when watching a broadcast of the Shea Stadium concert: “What a thankless task it must have been to be the opening act for the Beatles. No one was listening, no one cared, the screams were all for the Beatles!”

Did you see that movie “Yesterday”? As a Beatles fan, it’s a good one.

He really says “Johnny Most.” He’s a big Celtics fan.

“Hey Buddy, why’s that drunk monkey flying the plane?”