‘American Pie’ singer Don McLean talks true meaning of his 50-year song

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“American Pie” singer Don McLean has been belting out his classic for the last 50 years. 

McLean recently spoke to Fox News Digital, and shared the compliment he received from country music legend Garth Brooks, who is featured in a new documentary “The Day the Music Died: The Story of Don McLean’s ‘American Pie.'”

The project, which premieres on Paramount+ Tuesday, focuses on McLean and his verse “the day the music died.”

“He said it’s probably one of the greatest songs in music history,” McLean shared. “And he says a lot of wonderful things in the movie. And it’s a very personal expression of his love for the song, going back to when he was a little boy. He feels the song in some way is a parallel to his career and his life in music that somehow the song brought him into that.”  

'American Pie' singer Don McLean talks true meaning of his 50-year song

Singer-songwriter Don McLean writes the iconic song "American Pie" circa 1970 in this image provided from his personal photo collection.
(Don McLean Archive Collection)

Of the expression, McLean said, “Well, the day the music died, is metaphor for death, of course, but for the death of the spirit, music is the equivalent to spiritual life.”

“And so, you know, if the music dies, the spirit dies,” he added, before sharing the meaning behind the tune. “And so each verse of ‘American Pie’ adds another layer of the story that happened on that day that the music died. It’s all poetic, really. It’s not prose, you know, it’s meant to be taken in metaphorical terms. A lot of that song, like a lot of songwriting.”


'American Pie' singer Don McLean talks true meaning of his 50-year song

"The Day the Music Died: The Story of Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’" is streaming exclusively on Paramount+.
( Paramount+)


McLean went on to talk about what went into the making of “American Pie.”

'American Pie' singer Don McLean talks true meaning of his 50-year song

Don McLean performs "American Pie" for its 50th anniversary at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, where Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper performed on Feb. 3, 1959.
(© Morling Manor Music Corp)

You know, I think the documentary is going to be fun, like the song is. I wanted to talk about the lyrics for 50 years, and I’m probably going to do it in a real way that I really explain how it all happened, and you got see how much negativity I had to overcome,” McLean said. “The musicians couldn’t play the song, the producer didn’t think that I had any talent and I chose him. You know, the song was eight and a half minutes, and you never get plays. And it’s just a lot of mountains that had to be climbed in order to get this thing to where people can hear it.” 

As for having one of the most iconic songs in the history of music?


“Well, I’m proud, and I think my family is proud. And I think my father and mother or my mother was very proud.” McLean said. 

“My father didn’t know anything about what happened to me. But I think that but, you know, their pride is a dangerous thing in a way. I just think that it’s if I gave people happiness, if I give them an insight into maybe one or two things, if I turned them on to rock and roll, if I turned them on to folk music, if I turned them on to a little bit of American cultural history,” said McLean.

“And I’m delighted, you know, that that that makes my life worthwhile. I’m happy I did. That is the start of a journey. You have to start with an interest in something before you start really, you know, get pretty get going. And I don’t think most music introduces anybody to anything like that. That’s what makes ‘American Pie’ unique and amazing.” 


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