The Man With the Songs the People Always Want: Don McLean

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“I had the songs the people always wanted,” Don McLean tells me during a Wednesday afternoon phone interview, in response to being asked what sort of advice he has for aspiring songwriters in 2020. Outside of writing massively popular songs, McLean also advises young musicians get “a good lawyer,” which is sage advice, if perhaps not the sentiment this music journalist was expecting from the man who iconically wrote ’70s anthem “American Pie.

McLean has a distaste for the contemporary world, and perhaps not for the reasons one might expect. He even says it’s the reason he “hasn’t written a song in a couple of years now.”

“I don’t like the world the way I see it. So I don’t really have anything I would warm up to, so far as something to write about,” he says. “(…) You know you just can’t write about a world that is so ignorant. I mean, we’re getting more ignorant every minute. Accusations destroy people and people throw around these words; everyone is a racist and everyone is anti-semitic and everyone is this and that… and it’s all just stupid, really. It’s a funny thing because the person who hurls the word ‘racist’ around is usually the racist because they see life through the prism of race. And there are all these words that are weaponized.. and phobias and -isms and every other darn thing, and it’s just silly to me.”

While the world might not be inspiring McLean to write anymore, he is still performing regularly, coming to the Peoples Bank Theatre on Saturday, January 25. You can hear my interview with McLean embedded above.