Don McLean ‘American Pie’ Album Turns 50 - Noise11.com
Don McLean American Pie

Don McLean ‘American Pie’ Album Turns 50

by Paul Cashmere on October 25, 2021

in News

Don McLean’s iconic ‘American Pie’ album was released on 24 October 1971.

‘American Pie’ was McLean’s second album. His first album ‘Tapestry’ in 1970 failed to make the US Top 100 while ‘American Pie’ gave Don a number one album in the USA, Canada and Australia and number three in the UK.

‘American Pie’ was recorded at The Record Plant in New York in May and June 1971. It generated two singles ‘American Pie’ and ‘Vincent’.

‘American Pie’ was about the history of rock and roll from the 1950s to 1970.

‘February made me shiver’ and “the day the music died” was a reference to the death of Buddy Holly in February 1959.

“When the jester sang for the king and queen” – Elvis Presley or Pete Seeger could be “the King”. If Joan Baez is The Queen, Seeger is likely the King.

“In a coat he borrowed from James Dean” – The coat borrowed from James Dean is a reference to the coat Dylan wore on the cover of ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’.

“The marching band refused to yield” – a reference to The Beatles Sgt Pepper era. Likewise, “Helter skelter in a summer swelter” and “While sergeants played a marching tune” are Beatles references.

“Jack Flash sat on a candlestick” – The Stones at Altamont.

The last verse of ‘American Pie’ features the West Forty Fourth Street Rhythm and Noise Choir’. The album’s producer, Ed Freeman, says that the choir included Pete Seeger, James Taylor, Livingston Taylor and Carly Simon.

The other hit song ‘Vincent’ is about Vincent Van Gogh.

Madonna has also had a hit with the title track. George Michael once covered ‘The Grave’ and ‘Babylon’ has been included in the TV series ‘Mad Men’.

Tracklisting
• 1. American Pie
• 2. Till Tomorrow
• 3. Vincent
• 4. Crossroads
• 5. Winterwood
• 6. Empty Chairs
• 7. Everybody Loves Me, Baby
• 8. Sister Fatima
• 9. The Grave
• 10. Babylon
• 11. Mother Nature
• 12. Aftermath

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