Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Don McLean

I've stolen the reference to this from Bob Lefsetz' latest email, but I've also cut it down to the parts that resonate. 
These questions were recently put to Don McLean, the writer best known for the song American Pie.
I've found that while the innocent pursuit of your passion is a valuable perspective, the view from the other end of the road can always add a new and valuable shade to your outlook.
When you look back over four decades in the music business, what do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
The main thing I would like to say is that I have become the person I wanted to be. As opposed to reaching goals but being an alcoholic, or reaching goals but having four failed marriages, or reaching goals but having kids in rehab. A lot of people reach their goals, but at a terrific price.
Is it safe to say, then, that you never cared about fame?
I had a recording contract with Clive Davis for about a year. He kept sending me wimpy little songs to sing and I didn't want to do them. So we ended our association. I guarantee you if I had decided to sing those songs, with the production values they would have used, I would have had hit records. But I didn't want those kinds of hit records. I don't want songs that don't mean anything. You wind up regretting it in the end anyway. Because if you get a hit that you don't like, you've still got to sing it.
Songs come and songs go. So what do you think about the staying power of American Pie?
It's a real honor and a gift. The thing that I value about the songs that Buddy Holly wrote and that Elvis sang, the songs by Pete Seeger and the Weavers, those songs are my friends. Better than my friends, in fact, because they're always there. And my hope is that people will consider my songs to be their friends as the years go by.
You're doing a concert tour in England next month. At age 66, have you ever considered retiring?
It's not really a career. It's a way of life. It's like breathing. I can't do anything else.

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