Don McLean Opens Up About His Career Longevity

by Samantha Whidden

With the tour celebrating the 50th anniversary of his famous single American Pie, Don McLean opens up about his music career’s longevity. 

During a recent interview with Fox News, Don McLean shared the backstory of the hit single. “I was young. I was the right guy at the time. The audience was receptive. I knew my audience. And I knew what they wanted.”

Don McLean then stated that while he has many top-10 records and many successful albums throughout the years, he believes there is only one song like American Pie. “It was specific, really. To the very tumultuous times that were going on in the United States. In the early ‘70s – In 1970, 1971 – it was actually the worst and most violent time.”

Don McLean recalled U.S. cities being on fire and the Vietnam War was finally ending. “And Titanic struggles had forced [the government] to stop doing this [after] it had been going on for 15 years or more. Awful. And so, I think there was a hearing for something American. And my song fit the bill.”

While speaking about his experience writing such a legendary song, Don McLean said, “What I’ve learned from this experience – including thousands of concert experiences, stories, and everything else that I’ve been involved with over the course of my career – is that I did the right thing with my life.”

Don McLean also shared he made the right decision when he decided when he was 15-years-old that he wanted to become a singer and musician. “And I didn’t care what happened. That’s what I learned. And it was the best thing I ever did.”

Don McLean Admits That Things Could Have Ended Up Very Differently For Him

However, Don McLean went on to acknowledge that things could have ended up very differently. “I could have ended up homeless. I was involved in the ‘60s, after I got out of college and even before. And there were a lot of young people around at that time sleeping ‘in a van down by the river’ you know? I slept in a car many times. And I wouldn’t think twice about doing it now.”

Don McLean recalled being a “road guy” in his youth. He also described himself as a rambler. “I went around doing little shows, little nightclubs. In the middle, I had friends [and] I traveled. I rambled around and did a lot of driving And hundreds of singers with guitars and banjos and mandolins at that time were out there doing that.”

In regards to finally touring again, especially during COVID, Don McLean goes on to add that he wanted to get working again despite the circumstances. “COVID stopped everything. For a solid year, it really did. And we’re still sort of gradually recovering.”