Don McLean, 'American Pie' singer, coming to Penn's Peak
Special to the TIMES NEWS Singer Don McLean will be performing at 8 p.m. Friday at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe. Opening for him will be local singer Mike Pilgermayer.
"So bye-bye, miss American pie.
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
And them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
Singin', "this'll be the day that I die.
"this'll be the day that I die."
Who over 25 hasn't sung those words at some point? Who doesn't recognize them as lyrics from Don McLean's hit song, "America Pie?"
Friday night, you'll be able to hear McLean sing it live on the stage of Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe.
McLean is making a concert appearance at the Peak at 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $29 and $24.
Opening for him will be folk singer Mike Pilgermayer of Kunkletown.
"American Pie" lyrics explain McLean learning about the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. Richardson (The Big Bopper) in a plane crash on Feb. 3, 1959.
The song popularized the expression, "The day the music died," in reference to this event.
In a phone interview, McLean said he was a newspaper carrier at the time of the crash and read about the tragedy while making his deliveries. Affecting him most was the death of Holly.
Holly was hailed as a young genius musician, whose success lasted just a short year and a half before he was killed. He is credited with inspiring such later groups as The Beatles and The Stones. Among Holly's hits were "That'll Be the Day" and "Peggy Sue."
Although obviously the death of Holly was behind "American Pie," McLean was asked for specifics about what inspired him to record it.
"A lot of ideas," he generalized. "It turned into a very impromptu record."
McLean had, by the age of five, developed an interest in all forms of music. He'd spend hours listening to the radio and his father's records.
He suffered from childhood asthma which often kept him out of school for long periods of time. His love of music got stronger as he grew older.
The recording of "American Pie" was virtually an instant success for McLean, who was also the writer.
"Every line of the song was analyzed time and time again to find the real meaning. Don refused to sanction any of the many interpretations, so adding to the mystery," says the press bio of the singer.
In the phone interview, McLean said, "It is somewhat biographical."
McLean said that although "American Pie" was a big hit for him, many people forget he also had other big records.
They include "Crying," which besides being recorded by him became a number one record for Roy Orbison; "And I Love Her So," "Castles In The Air," and "Vincent," which some refer to as "Starry, Starry Night."
"Vincent" is a tribute to artist Vincent Van Gogh.
A native of New Rochelle, N.Y., he and his wife of 25 years, Patricia, presently reside in Maine with their two children, Jacqui and Wyatt, both English lit majors.
Wyatt often travels with him on the road and plans to be at the Penn's Peak concert where he will sing at least one song.
McLean said although "American Pie" was obviously his biggest hit, his success has been built "as a result of many records on the chart. I'm happy to say I've had a very successful worldwide concert career."
He has sung at the White House as well as at the Songwriter's Hall of Fame.
This past year has seen another of several tours of the United Kingdom and Ireland, which included a sensational appearance at Europe's largest music festival, Glastonbury.
Asked if he wasn't a musician, what would he be doing today, he joked "I would probably be an alcoholic or a miserable old (man)."
He then got serious and said he loves horses and would probably be a park ranger.
"I've always kept horses and I'm 66 years old," he said. "It's more dangerous, though, for me to get thrown."
McLean and his family raise the horses on his 300 acre estate in Maine.
He remarked, "I'm looking forward to coming to Penn's Peak and looking forward to seeing the people."