It’s difficult not to be swept along by the wry clear-sightedness and touching...
Colin Buttimer 2007-09-28
Everyone knows the song “American Pie”, even if they’ve only heard the version recorded by Madonna included on her album, Music. The wistful melancholy at the song’s heart, paired with its great melody and the slight mystery of its subject matter make for a classic pop song. In light of its inescapable, seemingly global, ubiquity, I wonder what Don McLean thinks of it. Before listening to this greatest hits package, I also wondered how many people would know any of the other nineteen songs included here. Turns out I was surprised how many I was familiar with.
One notable fan was Tupac Shakur. The late rapper’s favourite composition, “Vincent”, is lined up after opener “American Pie”. Its subject is the Don McLean’s empathy with the loneliness and determination of the painter Van Gogh. Some of the songs here are undeniably sentimental though they generally succeed in avoiding mawkishness. However McLean’s lyrics are penned with an openness and lack of pretension that garners respect. The press release comes packed with two sides of A4 filled with facts about the singer – it’s tough to choose a favourite, but I think I’ll have to plump for ‘Don McLean belongs to many of the world’s most exclusive private clubs’.
The music spans many different shades of pop/folk/country, from gentle acoustic numbers to occasional dashes of surging rock. Much of it sounds of its time, though the likes of “Wonderful Baby” and “Since I Don’t Have You” seem to have wafted in on the gentler airwaves of another era when families gathered round valve radios. It’s difficult not to be swept along by the wry clear-sightedness and touching sincerity of The Legendary Don McLean.