“I read a book about him, written by his brother Theo, and I thought gee what a great idea you to write…I always loved van Gogh, everybody loves Van Gogh. I thought what a nice idea to write a song about a painter and tell his story. I took his most famous painting and used the colors and the energy and the forms and everything to try to grab hold of what I perceived to be his essence as a human being – as an artist, art is his essence.”Don McLean (1320)

American Pie

“I’ve never had any job in my life except as a paper boy. I was delivering the paper and I cut open the paper and I saw that three Rock and Roll Stars Killed in Plane Crash” and my man Buddy Holly had been killed. He was my favorite artist really when I was 12, 13, 14 years old and I was heartbroken when he died. That was in junior high school and I said, “Gee, Buddy Holly died” and they said, “So what?” They didn’t care. Buddy Holly was old news anyway by 1959. [When I wrote the song – Ed] my record deal was finished, I was on my ass and I had one more album to make and I was making it and I said, “Well, I’m just going to go for broke and do the things that I want to do now, even more than the first time” and suddenly I was bringing Buddy Holly back to life. I was giving Buddy Holly a new life and he was giving me new life. American Pie came out of very turbulent times, when society was coming unglued. You look back on it now and it seems like an interesting song and people love it and all, but they don’t realize what it was like. People were rioting and cities were burning and kids were dying in Vietnam like crazy. There were huge marches and a tremendous anger toward the Government like has never been before. A lot of new voices were being heard and a lot of new ideas were being floated and a lot of formerly fringe type people were becoming mainstream because the mainstream ideas were not working all that well. It was a mental thing, a psychic thing that happened with the record. It wasn’t anything you can explain. I was telling a story and I had a concept, an idea, a very complicated idea that politics and music flow in the same channel, because music is created by the society that’s under it.”Don McLean (1321)