Skip to main content

Don Mclean at the Cascade Theatre

01/25/2018 05:00AM ● Published by Phil Reser

Gallery: Don Mclean [2 Images] Click any image to expand.

Beautiful Ideas

February 2018
Story by Phil Reser
Photos Courtesy of Don Mclean

Since first hitting the music charts in 1971, singer-songwriter Don McLean has accumulated more than 40 gold and platinum records worldwide and has been inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. 

Over the years, his style of writing has found favor with a multitude of artists from the world of pop, rock and even rap. These include cover versions of his songs by Elvis Presley (“And I Love You So”), Madonna (“American Pie”), George Michael (“The Grave”) and most recently, Drake’s sampling of songs from McLean’s 1977 album, “Prime Time,” which the rapper used for the song “Doing It Wrong.”

But McLean will forever be identified with the classic hit song “American Pie,” one of the most famous songs in pop music history. The song was originally inspired by the death of Buddy Holly. “The Day the Music Died” was February 3, 1959, when Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper were killed in a plane crash after a concert. 

“For some reason I wanted to write a big song about America and about politics, but I wanted to do it in a different way. As I was fiddling around, I started singing this thing about the Buddy Holly crash. The thing that came out was, ‘Long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile.’ I thought, ‘Whoa, what’s that?’ And then the day the music died, it just came out.  I came up with this crazy chorus, and then about a month later I just woke up from a dream and wrote the other five verses.”

On that same “American Pie” album was another classic song of McLean’s – “Vincent,” a heartfelt ballad about the life of painter Vincent Van Gogh. 

“I was reading a book about Van Gogh and I decided that it was an interesting idea for a song, and the idea of using the imagery of his painting, ‘The Starry Night,’ to tell a story. I’ve always striven to find beautiful melodies to sing and beautiful ideas to sing about, rather than angry ideas or ideas that were ugly. I think one of my purposes for being in the world is to find some kind of beauty and create music that’s beautiful in some fashion. I think The Beatles had an influence on me; I love the diversity of the things that they did, and I am really a fusion artist in that I fuse old-fashioned popular music with early rock and roll and folk music.”

In 1969, McLean began his friendship with musician, environmentalist and peace advocate Pete Seeger, with whom he learned a lot about the art of performing. 

“I realized through my work with Pete Seeger that I didn’t want to spend my life as an entertainer that just sang love or sentimental songs. I also wanted to sing songs about what was going on in the world. So I wrote ‘Orphans of Wealth’ about poverty, and ‘1967’ and ‘The Grave’ were about the war in Vietnam.”

During that timeframe, he accompanied Seeger on his Clearwater sailboat up the Hudson River in 1969 to protest environmental pollution in the river. Aboard that sloop, he wrote several new songs, including his environmental song “Tapestry,” which was an inspiration for the formation of the Greenpeace organization, along with editing a songbook entitled “Songs and Sketches of the First Clearwater Crew.”

“That was more than 40 years ago, and one of the things about knowing Pete Seeger in those days was that all of the intellectuals, writers, artists and scientists who supported his point of view, and who knew the environment was going to be in trouble, gave lectures and wrote books about what would be happening in the years to come,” McLean says. “There’s no doubt in my mind that global warming is brought about by the factors that these scientists referenced because I have seen it happen during my lifetime. We had a warning about this and we did nothing.

“The way my mind works when I write a song is that I like to combine opposing things, and what I figured out was that politics and music run parallel going forward in history. That’s just my theory, but we do have a perfect example of that still being true, at least as I see it, because we have a kind of loud, spectacular but rather mindless form of cultural entertainment now coupled with a sort of mindless administration in Washington, all about how things appear and having no substance.”  •


Don McLean • Saturday, March 10

Cascade Theatre, Redding • www.cascadetheatre.org


In Print, Arts+Entertainment
  • Football Season Is Here!

    02/19/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • ART SALE at Pawz for a Cause Boutique

    02/19/2018
    10:30AM — 05:00PM

    Pawz for a Cause Boutique/ ResQ Animal Coalition will be having a 15% Off All Framed Art SALE for...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    02/20/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • ART SALE at Pawz for a Cause Boutique

    02/20/2018
    10:30AM — 05:00PM

    Pawz for a Cause Boutique/ ResQ Animal Coalition will be having a 15% Off All Framed Art SALE for...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    02/22/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • ART SALE at Pawz for a Cause Boutique

    02/22/2018
    10:30AM — 05:00PM

    Pawz for a Cause Boutique/ ResQ Animal Coalition will be having a 15% Off All Framed Art SALE for...


  • Variety Hour

    02/22/2018
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    This is STARSHIP a show choir. These amazing students will perform two hours of non stop singing,...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    02/24/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • ART SALE at Pawz for a Cause Boutique

    02/24/2018
    10:30AM — 05:00PM

    Pawz for a Cause Boutique/ ResQ Animal Coalition will be having a 15% Off All Framed Art SALE for...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Brewhouse Tour

    02/24/2018
    04:30PM — 05:00PM

    Want to know more about what goes on behind the scenes at Wildcard? Join us for a tour. This is y...


  • Havana Nights Gala

    02/24/2018
    06:00PM — 11:55PM

    Havana Nights Gala features appetizers, cocktails, dinner, live band, dancing, drawings and silen...


  • One Future at a Time Sing-Along

    02/24/2018
    07:00PM — 10:00PM

    A band of local musicians will lead an audience sing-along concert featuring the hits of the 60's...


  • North State Symphony's Masterworks #3

    02/24/2018
    07:30PM — 10:00PM

    This concert explores the sounds of Vienna with a collage of favorites from this famous musical h...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    02/25/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Yoga Nidra

    02/25/2018
    02:30PM — 04:00PM

    Yoga nidra is the art of conscious deep relaxation. You will be guided through progressive relaxa...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    02/19/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • ART SALE at Pawz for a Cause Boutique

    02/19/2018
    10:30AM — 05:00PM

    Pawz for a Cause Boutique/ ResQ Animal Coalition will be having a 15% Off All Framed Art SALE for...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    02/20/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • ART SALE at Pawz for a Cause Boutique

    02/20/2018
    10:30AM — 05:00PM

    Pawz for a Cause Boutique/ ResQ Animal Coalition will be having a 15% Off All Framed Art SALE for...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    02/21/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • ART SALE at Pawz for a Cause Boutique

    02/21/2018
    10:30AM — 05:00PM

    Pawz for a Cause Boutique/ ResQ Animal Coalition will be having a 15% Off All Framed Art SALE for...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Midweek Madness

    02/21/2018
    02:00PM — 08:00PM

    Visit either Wildcard location on Wednesdays and get $3 off a growler fill! Come by the brewery a...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    02/22/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • ART SALE at Pawz for a Cause Boutique

    02/22/2018
    10:30AM — 05:00PM

    Pawz for a Cause Boutique/ ResQ Animal Coalition will be having a 15% Off All Framed Art SALE for...


  • Variety Hour

    02/22/2018
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    This is STARSHIP a show choir. These amazing students will perform two hours of non stop singing,...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    02/23/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • ART SALE at Pawz for a Cause Boutique

    02/23/2018
    10:30AM — 05:00PM

    Pawz for a Cause Boutique/ ResQ Animal Coalition will be having a 15% Off All Framed Art SALE for...


  • Wildcard Brewing Co. Foodie Friday

    02/23/2018
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    On Fridays from 5pm-8pm, we bring you the best of both worlds: a frothy pint and a flavorful plat...


  • Redding International Folk Dancers

    02/23/2018
    07:00PM — 10:00PM

    Folk dance is for everyone and for all ages! Our motto is: If you can walk you can dance. We meet...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    02/24/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • ART SALE at Pawz for a Cause Boutique

    02/24/2018
    10:30AM — 05:00PM

    Pawz for a Cause Boutique/ ResQ Animal Coalition will be having a 15% Off All Framed Art SALE for...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Brewhouse Tour

    02/24/2018
    04:30PM — 05:00PM

    Want to know more about what goes on behind the scenes at Wildcard? Join us for a tour. This is y...


  • Havana Nights Gala

    02/24/2018
    06:00PM — 11:55PM

    Havana Nights Gala features appetizers, cocktails, dinner, live band, dancing, drawings and silen...


  • One Future at a Time Sing-Along

    02/24/2018
    07:00PM — 10:00PM

    A band of local musicians will lead an audience sing-along concert featuring the hits of the 60's...


  • North State Symphony's Masterworks #3

    02/24/2018
    07:30PM — 10:00PM

    This concert explores the sounds of Vienna with a collage of favorites from this famous musical h...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    02/25/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Yoga Nidra

    02/25/2018
    02:30PM — 04:00PM

    Yoga nidra is the art of conscious deep relaxation. You will be guided through progressive relaxa...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    02/26/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • ART SALE at Pawz for a Cause Boutique

    02/26/2018
    10:30AM — 05:00PM

    Pawz for a Cause Boutique/ ResQ Animal Coalition will be having a 15% Off All Framed Art SALE for...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    02/27/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • ART SALE at Pawz for a Cause Boutique

    02/27/2018
    10:30AM — 05:00PM

    Pawz for a Cause Boutique/ ResQ Animal Coalition will be having a 15% Off All Framed Art SALE for...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    02/28/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • ART SALE at Pawz for a Cause Boutique

    02/28/2018
    10:30AM — 05:00PM

    Pawz for a Cause Boutique/ ResQ Animal Coalition will be having a 15% Off All Framed Art SALE for...


  • Durable Power Of Attorney for Healthcare

    02/28/2018
    01:00PM — 03:00PM

    Joise will be covering: -Long Term Care - Special Needs Trust - Power of Attor...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Midweek Madness

    02/28/2018
    02:00PM — 08:00PM

    Visit either Wildcard location on Wednesdays and get $3 off a growler fill! Come by the brewery a...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    03/01/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • ART SALE at Pawz for a Cause Boutique

    03/01/2018
    10:30AM — 05:00PM

    Pawz for a Cause Boutique/ ResQ Animal Coalition will be having a 15% Off All Framed Art SALE for...


Enter to win a free pottery class for three!

 

 

Enter to win!
Enter for your chance to win a $100 gift certificate to Wink Fashion and Salon! 

 

Check out our sister publication, Enjoy Magazine: South Valley Living

 

 

 

 

Wedding Style Guide 2017
Enjoy Magazine Facebook
Enjoy Magazine Instagram Instagram
Enjoy Magazine Pinterest Enjoy Magazine

Enjoy Our Sponsors