Don McLean Reflects on ‘American Pie’s Legacy: ‘Serving a Wonderful Purpose

by Samantha Whidden

More than 50 years after the release of his iconic single “American Pie,” music legend Don McLean is opening up about the song’s legacy over the years. 

While speaking to AP News about the song, Don McLean reflected on the song’s popularity. “I’ve heard whole bars burst into this song when I’ve been across the room,” the musician declared. “And they’re so happy singing it that I realized, ‘You don’t really have to worry about how well you sing this song anymore. Even sung badly, people are really happy with it.”

Don McLean also spoke about writing the hit track more than five decades ago. “That was the fun of writing the song. I was up at night, smiling, and thinking about what. I’m going to do with this.”

Meanwhile, Don McLean’s hit track is now the subject of a full-length featured film from Paramount+. The documentary is called “The Day The Music Died: The Story of Don McLean’s ‘American Pie.’”

AP News reports that the documentary will start when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and Jiles P. Richardson were killed in a plane crash on February 3, 1959. Don McLean was notably 13 years old at the time. He remembered that tragic day. While working on his second album in 1971, McLean said he needed a big song about America in the album. 

Sharing his reaction to the single, Don McLean stated, “I said, ‘Wow, that is something. I don’t know what it is, but it’s exactly what I’ve been wanting to try to get ahold of – that feeling about Buddy Holly – for all these years and that plane crash. I always feel a tug inside me whenever I think about Buddy.”

Don McLean Says ‘American Pie’ is a ‘Blueprint’ of His Mind in the 1970s. 

Meanwhile, Don McLean spoke about the importance of “American Pie” and how the single is a “blueprint” of his mind in the 1970s. 

“If it starts young people thinking about Buddy Holly, about rock ’n’ roll and that music, and then it teaches them maybe about what else happened in the country, maybe look at a little history, maybe ask why John Kennedy was shot and who did it. Maybe ask why all our leaders were shot in the 1960s, and who did it, maybe start to look at war, and the stupidity of it – if that can happen, then the song really is serving a wonderful purpose and a positive purpose.”

Spencer Proffer, CEO of media production company, Meteor 17, which helped create the film, spoke about Don McLean’s involvement. “He was glad to open up because his manager thought it was the time to do it. And this was the platform to do it in. My hat’s off to Don for writing something this magnificent. My job was to bring it to life.”