Don McLean “American Pie”


Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#626 in the Series) is Don McLean, American Pie

Magnum Opus, noun….a great work, especially the chief work of a writer or artist: Proust’s magnum opus is Remembrance of Things Past.  Origin: 1785–95;  < Latin

You cannot find a better way to describe Don McLean’s American Pie other than by simply referring to it as his Magnum Opus.

Were you around in 1971 when this was a hit? If you were sure you remember exactly how huge this was. The single “American Pie” spent nearly 2 months at the top of the Billboard Top 100 singles chart. That’s incredible considering current at the same period were albums like Carole King’s Tapestry and John Lennon’s Imagine.  It’s a shame that too many people under certain age that when they hear “American Pie” they quickly think “bad movie” and not “epic song.”

I’m not going to go into detail about all the meanings found within “American Pie.” There were college courses devoted to the subject, so I’m not going to try to do it on one page. We all know that the song is based around the plane crash took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper.  It still blows me away to think that Buddy Holly was only 22 years old at the time of his death. Over the years it’s become a piece of American culture, a true, true classic.

Yes there were more songs on the album besides the title cut. Another track that received strong airplay was the ode to Vincent van Gogh titled simply “Vincent.” You may know it as “Starry, Starry Night.”

There was also a track called “Empty Chairs.” This song was said to have been the inspiration for a poem written by Lori Lieberman which formed the basis of another hugely popular hit “Killing Me Softly” which was of course recorded by Roberta Flack.

If some Saturday night you’re skipping around YouTube looking to hear “American Pie,” make sure you don’t accidentally end up clicking on the Madonna or Garth Brooks version. Stick with the original. In fact, I’d give long odds that you haven’t listed to the full-length version of it in many years. Give it a listen, it really is fun to hear again of all those years.

— Larry Carta

Track listing

All tracks composed and arranged by Don McLean; except where indicated

  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”


  • Don McLean – vocals, guitar, banjo
  • Warren Bernhardt – piano (“Crossroads”)
  • Ray Colcord – electric piano
  • Tom Flye – drums (“The Grave”), engineering
  • Ed Freeman – string arrangements
  • Paul Griffin – piano (“American Pie”)
  • Lee Hays – arranger
  • Mike Mainieri – marimba, vibraphone
  • Roy Markowitz – drums, percussion
  • Gene Orloff – concert master
  • Bob Rothstein – bass, vocals
  • David Spinozza – electric guitar (“American Pie”)
  • West Forty Fourth Street Rhythm and Noise Choir – chorus


Listen to American Pie in its entirety below

Here’s more albums from singer/songwriters ..

[jcarousel source=”cat=29″ link=”permalink” size=”100×100″ limit=”100″ items=”4″ speed=”400″ margin=”10″]
Posted by Larry Carta

Leave a Reply

Before you post, please prove you are sentient.

what is 5 in addition to 6?