December 23, 2020

Episode #84: Don McLean on Songwriting, Chasing Dreams, and American Pie 50 Years Later

Don McLean is the singer/songwriter behind the iconic songs American Pie (named by the Recording Industry of America as a top 5 song of the century) and Vincent (Starry, Starry Night). Don is also a member of the Songwriter Hall of Fame member, the Grammy Hall of Fame, and a BBC Lifetime Achievement Award winner. In October of 2020, Don released a new album, Still Playing Favorites, and in February 2021 will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What you will learn:

  • Nearing the 50th anniversary of American Pie, Don reflects on the most exciting decade of his life (1960 to 1970), playing small gigs all over the country, creating his first album and the hard work and passion it required. From working children’s birthday parties to nightclubs, all while attending college, Don shares his thoughts on the dedication it takes to succeed. [0:00-10:27]
  • Don describes the dangers of becoming highly successful and what he did to stay away from the temptations of drugs and alcohol. He talks about how growing up around affluence, but not being affluent, shaped him as an artist and the choices he made creatively. He also discusses the impact that losing his dad at age 15 had on his outlook on life. [10:27-22:12]
  • With candor Don lays out the grind and relentless rejection he had to endure early on in his career, and explains why he has no regrets. [22:12-28:51]
  • Don breaks down his songwriting process, how he records and produces the songs, and compares how political environments influenced songs in the 60s and 70s vs today. [28:51-39:51]
  • Don discusses the evolution of entertainment, why he embraces but is also wary of recent technological advances, and why he is concerned about our culture losing artistic innovation due to these advances. [39:51-48:34]
  • Don’s 2021/2022 touring schedule and what projects he’s currently working on, including a Broadway musical and a documentary about his life. [48:34-1:00:00]

Resources: Don McLean’s Website, Facebook, Twitter, & YouTube


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