In conversation with Don McLean, Christmas 2008

Don:
I’d like to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy new year. I want to give special thanks to people like David New, Jim Monaghan, and Ron Buck – who wrote those beautiful pages in the biography – and to all my fans who have been so supportive including the usual gang, people like Bill Nisbett, Hannah, Annie, Bill Hamilton and Kristin who show up whenever I play Ireland or Britain. I’m really blessed and I almost think of these people as family; in fact I’m closer to them than to some distant relatives.

Alan Howard:
We have received lots of questions from fans  around the world wondering whether you’ll continue to tour. Some British fans fear that the destruction of their currency may mean it is no longer economically viable.

Don:
I’m going to continue touring the world until I cannot sing anymore or until physical impairment prevents me from doing that. It will have nothing to with money or currency exchange fluctuations or anything like that; I will just continue to go on for as long as I can go on.  2009 will be spent in the United States and Canada with my agents the Agency Group and my agent Steve Martin. 2010 will probably bring me back to all the places I have been – including Australia and the UK and the places in Europe that were very keen to have me on the European tour that we had to cancel earlier this year. There will also be Canadian and USA dates in 2010.

Alan:
Another frequently asked question concerns the “Till Tomorrow” DVD. Will this be released anytime soon?

Don:
That comes up every now and then about whether or not it can be put out and we seem to run into a road block over certain requirements that I have about the songs that are on the DVD. It may come out; I’m not going to say that it won’t. There are portions of it available on the Starry Starry Night DVD.

Alan:
Won’t it all be on Youtube before you get to release it?

Don:
Let me talk about Youtube for a minute. I was approached by a very powerful legal firm in California a couple of years ago and they asked me to spearhead a lawsuit against Youtube. I thought about it and decided I really didn’t want to be involved because it had to do with artists getting paid and I felt something would be worked out and they would be paid. Also it was probably a good thing for artists that fans are able to access performances. I wasn’t aware how extensive my presence was on Youtube until they sent me a DVD with all these things on it.

The fascinating thing is that my son, who is becoming a really good guitarist, is very computer literate and he was suddenly reintroduced to me through Youtube. I don’t think he realised quite how far back I go so that’s been a very nice thing to share with my son at this point in his life.

Ger Bosdijk:
Will there ever be a DVD of one of your recent performances – a DVD of a whole concert with good sound quality. I have seen your concert lately in Turnhout, Belgium…..and it was great.

Don:
Yes there may be a DVD of something we’re doing right now. The Milwaukee PBS station wants to come with their crew and six cameras and record my show there soon. So that may end up getting networked and we’re negotiating with them right now.

David Moore:
Is there a label for the new CD (“Addicted to Black”) or is it only to be available at the shows or on the web?

Don:
No there is not a label for the CD. It will be on Don McLean Records and it will be sold in shows and on the Web. Eventually it may find its way on to some label but it won’t be able to be in the stores because there are no stores.

David Moore:
I loved the Shakespeare sonnet that you sang on A & E’s Sunday morning breakfast show from about a year ago. It was listed in the show as “Lovers Love the Spring”. My question is: is this song appearing on your “Addicted to Black” album?

Don:
Yes it is on the “Addicted to Black” album.

 

Jo:
What aspect of your career has turned out to be the most satisfying to look back on? Are some songs more satisfying to have written than others and, if that is the case, what is that makes them so?

Don:
This is going to sound strange but I don’t really think of myself as a poet or a songwriter or anything. I don’t really think of myself as anything. I’ve only done this my whole life; I’ve never worked for anybody or been in an office setting or been around a boss. I’ve made up my own life as it’s gone along and did what I felt like doing. So in the days when I had recording contracts and I was a young artist I drifted into songwriting but I also loved singing other people’s songs and so I did that as well.

I received a lot of flack for everything that I ever did. If I sang other people’s songs I wasn’t supposed to do that and if I wrote my own songs I got criticised for the kinds of things I wrote sometimes. So it was always a swimming upstream type of situation. American Pie was too long and couldn’t be a hit; Vincent was too weird.

Nowadays some say they’d like to see me solo and that they don’t like the band – and I must say some people go out of their way to criticise the band and it hurts them; it’s painful. I don’t like to see that. I would like them to keep those thoughts to themselves because I’ve been with these people for over 10 years and they’re an integral part of what I do and fans have to accept that.

I have seen many artists that I love very much and there would be songs that would put me too sleep or bore me and then they’d be one that would knock me out and that’s the nature of live performing.

Alan:
How did Vip Vipperman come to join the band recently?

Don:
Vip is our current guitar player because Pat Severs has got a wonderful job with NBC in their band for the Nashville star program. It pays him benefits and a lot more money and he gets to stay home and not travel. In addition he has pursued the quest for an adoption and it’s taken him two years and it’s been an absolute bureaucratic nightmare. First he started out looking for a daughter in Vietnam and after almost a year of constant work that fell apart. And then he pursued a young son (8 year old boy) in Russia and succeeded in doing that and he now has his son. He and his wife are deliriously happy.

 

So he’s been so busy with all this stuff he’s been distracted from just about everything and he perfectly understood that we needed to have someone there for every date. Vip Vipperman is a songwriter and a wonderful guitar player and he is with us now but we always keep the door open to all of the guitar players including Kerry Marx, Pat Severs, who gave nine years of his life to me, and Mike Severs who was with us this summer. You’ll be seeing other guitar players from time to time and maybe two in one show or I may bring Pat with me as a steel guitar player at some point because he’s a terrific steel guitar player; that’s his forte. So we don’t fire people but occasionally we add another person to the band.

But going back to the point that I don’t really see myself as anything except as this musical creature: the touring and the singing have been the most satisfying. Making records is very disappointing a lot of times. You do your very best and people don’t care about it or the record company hates it. These days it’s very sad to see the music business basically evaporating. There are no music stores to go to in America. You can’t go and enjoy being around 1000s of albums and choosing things and coming back with a whole bunch of things. The studios are closing. The idea of going into the studio and making a recording with talented side men and a great producer is pretty much over because they can email their parts in and everyone is working from home. The whole culture of the music business from making the records to selling the records to hearing them on the radio (because the DJ liked the song rather than because the DJ got paid a lot of money) is all over. It’s a different business now. It takes $1m for a young artist to get on the charts and they shove it up the charts with all this money and then when people are sick of it it falls away and you never hear of it again.

So it is the live performing part of it that I have always enjoyed despite the fact I find travel very difficult. It’s ridiculous – I was telling my wife that I’ve heard so much applause; you know – how many people hear applause? It’s just been part of my life and so it’s weird and it’s wonderful.

 

Bill Hamilton:
The difficulties you had in getting your first album ‘Tapestry’ to market are well documented. It seems ironic that things seem to be even harder for your ‘last’ album ‘Addicted to Black’! In what ways do you think life is now more difficult for a recording artist than when you started in the late 1960s, and in what ways easier?

Don:
I think I’ve covered that. The music business doesn’t exist anymore so it’s a mystery to me how anybody gets started. My album, Addicted to Black, will be coming out on the Web and will be sold at shows. We are looking to EMI in the UK to put it out possibly. Those are the only options I have.

Alan:
When will that be?

Don:
I’m working on the artwork right now so in the next month or two it’s going to be out. And I do have plans to put out the Live in Manchester album and DVD in one package because I had that transferred from tape to RADAR, which is a digital format. That was the show we did in Manchester in 1991 with the green shirt. That’s my next project.

Alan:
How about the new book about Don McLean?

Don:
Yes, in addition I’m working on a very large coffee table book which will be called “Don McLean’s American Pie” . It will use a lot of photographs taken here at my home of my guitars, clothes, all these various collections I have – as well as handwritten lyrics to many of my songs. It will probably be a 375 page book with a slip case; the whole nine yards. It will focus on 12 albums which will be discussed and which will cover my entire career.

However just to finish Bill’s question the first album is the hardest album to get out because you have to get a record deal. In those days it was fairly straight forward – you could either get it or you couldn’t depending on whether or not the record company liked you. Most of the record companies liked me but didn’t like the Tapestry album. They didn’t think it was cool enough and so it was very difficult. I had to hold on to my beliefs that the Tapestry album was what I wanted and best reflected me. Eventually it did sell a lot of records and got on the charts so it did quite well and continues to do well – it’s been out for 40 years.

But you’re an unknown so everybody tells you what to do and you really can’t rock the boat too much. You have no power and you’re basically operating on the goodwill of someone who hears you and likes you. So you have to be careful how much you push for what you want. You see that’s the problem – I could never do what people wanted – I could never sing the songs other people wanted me to; I could never fit into the mould they wanted because I just didn’t feel comfortable not being myself. It wasn’t that I was above it all – I would have done just about anything I would have felt comfortable with to get what I wanted – to get started but I just could not feel comfortable singing a song I did not love or writing about a subject that I didn’t think was important. So I just couldn’t do it; it’s not that I wouldn’t have done it – I don’t want people thinking I thought I was above it .

Bill Hamilton:
You have recorded a number of albums of interpretations, from ‘Playin Favourites’ and ‘For the Memories’ to Marty Robbins, the Cowboy album and the Christmas album. More recently there was your take on Shakespeare’s hit ‘There Was a Lover and his Lass’. Have you ever considered recording an album of traditional British folk songs?

Don:
No I have not. But I do like Francis J. Childs and a lot of those songs very much but I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing an album because that would put me in the position of appearing as a traditional folk singer and I’m absolutely not and never could be. But an occasional song like that I wouldn’t be opposed to at all; they’re very beautiful.

Gina Woodward:
The question I’d like to ask Don is whether you still write poetry? One of my prized possessions is the booklet ” Songs and Sketches of the First Clearwater Crew ” that you compiled and edited , and , aged 15 , I fell in love with ” for Pete ” and ” for Alan ” , and memorised them both. I never missed an occasion to recite them , much to the bemusement of my schoolfriends, who found David Cassidy and Donny Osmond far more interesting!

Don:
I am not a poet; I have written very few poems. But thank you for liking the few that I have written, I appreciate it.

All I want to do now is basically continue singing and I may write a song every now and then but I have no interest in sitting down and saying I’m going to write poems or I’m going to write this or I’m going to write that. I feel like I’ve said a lot of what I have to say. I really don’t want to be repeating myself number 1, and number 2, I don’t care anymore about promoting “Don McLean”.

It’s strange – I’ve just sort of gotten passed myself in a weird way and all I really want to do is sing for people and then go about my business. I have many other interests. I’m satisfied is what I’m saying. I’ve done what I’ve done and I continue to do the performing side of it but I’m just not burning with ambition anymore to do other things.

Annie:
You have said that you do not read music .So how do you get your music written down? After it has been written down does someone play the written music back to you so you know that they have got it right for you? You are truly gifted but there are a lot of musicians out here who want to play your music but don’t have your intuitive gift with music.

Don:
The way I write songs, which is not very often, is to sing the song on the guitar into a tape recorder. Then I get the feeling how big or little the song is going to be and work on the song live on the tape recorder. I’ll listen back to parts that I like and parts that I don’t like. Then at some point when I’ve got the melody to where I want I’ll finish writing the lyrics and then try the whole song on the tape recorder and listen back to it.

Annie:
Is there ever a day in your life where you don’t pick up a guitar or sing?

Don:
There are quite a few days after I have stopped touring. Though I must say in the last two years there was almost never a time when my bags weren’t packed and I wasn’t prepared to leave for a show. I have an old desk in my office. It’s called a “roll top desk” and it’s got little cubby holes and I will have a contract and a plane ticket in 3 or 4 of those cubby holes and each time I do a performance I’ll  remove a contract and plane ticket and move the other ones up and put one more underneath. Those cubby holes were always filled with shows for the last two years.

But for a week or two after touring I don’t touch the guitar or sing much and that’s good for your voice – to not sing at all for a few weeks. You’re not meant to be singing with that thing – you’re meant to talk with your voice and maybe yell for a minute if you need to get a cab or if you’re angry with somebody. Your voice is not meant to be used in the way a singer does – it’s a very stressful thing that you’re doing to your vocal chords and it has to be done correctly. So giving it a rest is a very good thing and is also part of my longevity as a singer.

Alan:
When is the new songbook appearing?

Don:
That’s going to be called the “Legendary songs of Don McLean” on Hal Leonard and will have 27 songs on it and will be out momentarily. That’s the first larger songbook that they’ve put out.

Annie:
I noticed on your last tour of the UK in 2007 that you had started to use sometimes an electronic guitar tuner, is this because of the acoustics within concert halls making it hard to hear your tuning?

Don:
The electronic tuner that was on the floor was very good. When you work with a band and with this group who are phenomenally talented musicians and are used to being in the studio where everything is very much in tune. So if you’re out of tune it really clashes with the group. So I need a tuner of some sort.

Annie:
I love it that you never sing the same set list of songs, what makes you choose certain songs at a concert and how do you decide what you are going to sing first ?

Don:
I’ll have a couple of songs or maybe someone will mention a song and at the sound check and we’ll fool around with a bunch of things. I might decide that a certain song needs more work so we’ll work on that one and then I’ll maybe do three or four others and I’ll think they’re good and the guys really know them so I’ll have those in the bag and I’ll do those somewhere in the show along with all the ones I usually do. So every night they’ll be different songs. Then I’ll do three or four sound checks still working on the song that isn’t quite ready then they’ll come a night when I lay that one on the group and I can tell when they’re ready to do it and that then becomes part of the repertoire.

Right now we’re doing “Believers”, “I Tune the World Out”, “Love Letters” – a whole bunch of songs. So that’s how I like to do it – you do your rehearsal at the sound check.

It’s good because it gets you going. It’s not just a perfunctory testing of the equipment, it’s a chance to flex your muscles to see how you’re sounding and how the hall sounds and how things feel and so on. This is in stark contrast to the 1970s when I never did a sound check. I don’t know what I did – maybe I had a road manager do it and in the 1980s John Platania always did the sound checks. I wanted to be in the hall as little as possible and I wanted to be on the road as little as possible. If I could get a bus home after the show I would do it. It was really difficult for me to leave the house but I did it and now it’s much easier and I actually enjoy the camaraderie of the boys that I work with. It’s a bit like a family and we’ve been together for so long and do so many things.

But it’s different now – I was very singular in the 1970s; I was off by myself, it was very unique but very singular. Today it’s more of the democratic approach to the road and to everything because everybody has feelings and opinions and sometimes disagreeable political positions and you have to be democratic so it’s good for me as a person. The band has made me grow enormously as a person.

A lot of times I will change the first song that I do but a lot of times I always do the same song. It’s usually a Buddy Holly song I start off with but sometimes it’s something else. But it’s funny how you get used to that song setting the tone for the show. If you try something different it might work but if it doesn’t work you find yourself having to climb up hill for a while to try to get back to where you would have been immediately after the first correct song.  I don’t know if that’s a good answer but it’s almost like a lot of times I liken my kind of concert to being like a fighter in the ring – you know, you jab and then maybe a get a flurry of a few things going but it’s a long long haul – it’s not over in a minute – it’s an hour or two of back and forth until finally the audience completely capitulates and you’re not even thinking about the show anymore; they’re all with you and you’re going. That’s a terrific experience and it’s different every time so you’ve got to figure out how to get where you want to get to with a different audience in a different locale.

Annie:
I think you are very brave in the way they you bare you very personal feelings in your songs, such as Angry Words or Perfect Love and I thank you for that , Obviously they were very personal to you when you wrote them but do you when you sing them feel the same way?

Don:
For some reason I’ve always felt that I just wanted to be naked when I would sing songs about delicate subjects – love songs, the songs about individuals – and just say the truth. I think that’s a nice thing to say about what I’ve done. Those songs are just very exposed.

Annie:
How do you continue to look after your voice so  that you can carry on singing indefinitely for all you fans , you know that we all never want you to stop.

Don:
I don’t smoke and as I say I take long periods of time when I don’t sing. I also try to keep my overall physical condition in a reasonable area and not let myself get too out of hand with too much drinking or eating or lack of exercise. I live in a big place and there are a lot of stairs to go up and down and a lot of ground to cover. If I’m going to walk down to the barn it’s one tenth of a mile and then come back and I’ve done a fifth of a mile. My wife is quite athletic and she’ll prod me once in a while to get on a bicycle and I ride my horses. I look after them myself – I don’t have a stable boy or anything, I’m the stable boy. I take care of my horses, I doctor my horses so I’m down there fiddling around, lifting shovels and rakes, bales of hay and things so the general way of life I have keeps me in pretty good shape. You can’t really be weak and sing. You have to be physically fit overall to sing, not just vocally fit.

Annie:
You have always said that you love Christmas and I wondered if you have any old traditions from your childhood that you have carried on for you own children.

Don:
No we don’t have any things like that but we do a lot around here at Christmas for ourselves and our friends and our community. The Don McLean Foundation gives away a lot of money every year for homeless shelters and food banks. They’re very stressed this year and it’s very sad to see people lining up for food, reminiscent of the Depression and not looking like it’s getting any better any time soon.

Bill Nisbett:
I attended your concert in Turnhout, Belgium in July, it was a great success, thank you for a memorable performance. One of the things which struck me was the sheer physical effort required from you. I watched you conduct the sound check in  blazing afternoon sunshine in the Gross Markt, following which I saw you do TV interviews and then come on stage at 10pm for  a near 2 hour show.  Do you find this exhausting or is it food and drink to you?

Don:
It is exhilarating, almost like a work out at a gym because it is physically exhilarating but it is also mentally challenging because you’re again trying to get to a certain place via a different route every night. The thing that kills artists is that they put a set list on their guitar and that’s the only way they know of getting from point A to point Z – do the alphabet, do one song after the other in the exact same order and that is the kiss of death. There was a guy once who told me if you can do 10 things and they only want you to do three things and you do those three things after a while you’ll only be able to do three things. So that’s one of the reasons I do many different songs in the show. You are either expanding or contracting and you’re either keeping your mind and your artistic idiomatic mastery flexible or it becomes rigid and you’re afraid to move outside of those boundaries. So I like to go to the end of the diving board and dive off and I’ve learnt that if I fail, so what? I’ll figure out a way around that.

 

Bill Nisbett:
Will you please settle a difference of opinion on the last line of the chorus of your song “Jump”. I maintain that the line is “If you don’t jump, jump, jump, into the seat by and by.”      Others claim the word is sea or sweet. Your confirmation would be much appreciated.

Don:
Into the “sweet” by and by.

Bill Nisbett:
The footage on the site of your Hong Kong concert suggests that this was a great performance from you and the band.  Is there any prospect of the DVD being released for public sale?  If so I would be first in line to buy it.

Don:
I do not anticipate the release of the Hong Kong concert DVD but that doesn’t mean it might not happen.

Bill Nisbett:
I have an LP, released in November 1972 by the United States Air Force. You take up one side, being interviewed and singing. The other side features someone called Jimmy Castor.  I have never seen nor heard of this recording elsewhere.  Do you recall making it?  Do you have it? If not do you want it?

Don:
I’ve no idea what this is. There are a lot of secondary releases out there which use interviews and live performances. There are hundreds of them that have been put out legitimately and illegitimately but I have no idea what that one is about.

Terry Kelly:
How influential a figure was Bob Dylan for your own songwriting and how do rate his work in terms of overall cultural significance?

Don:
He has become overwhelmingly pervasive and the nice thing about Bob Dylan is that prior to his appearance, other than Woody Guthrie songs, which were brought to the American public by the Weavers, the idea of a composed folk song was a song like Scarlet Ribbons or Foggy Foggy Due and that was as far as it went. So Bob Dylan opened up a whole world of lyric writing and brought forward a terrific knowledge of traditional melody. He just really created a genre himself that is huge and influenced people like me because I had a lot of early Dylan. I quit listening to Dylan in the 70s because I was busy with my own career – in fact I quit listening to everything. I didn’t have time to get into any new artists and I didn’t care because I thought most of the artists I liked were right for me and were from before the 1970s anyway.  I was in the middle of the singer-songwriter movement and there were a lot of good songwriters around in those days that were really challenging but no one like Dylan who I found for me opened up my eyes and made me realise I could write anything I wanted and about anything I wanted in any way I wanted to write it. So that’s how he affected me.
But today it seems like every kid tries to sound like Bob Dylan. I think his singing is more pervasive influence today than it has ever been. So what you have – this is just talking about his singing now and singing in general – are two camps that I notice. One is the Dylan camp which has kids trying to sound like Dylan. And the other is the Motown camp in which they try to sound like Marvin Gaye or Smokey Robinson or Aretha Franklin or Whitney Houston. There are problems with both of those styles – and you see them on American Idol. The Dylan camp does not really realise how good a singer Bob Dylan is and how beautiful most of his melodies are. So they just hear the raw side they decide if they could just write a lot of gibberish lyrics and sing terribly that somehow they are profound. The other camp is more technically facile as singers but they seem to have to sing 14 notes when two will do. So they’re both equally amateurish and they’re awful; just awful and I find them very difficult to listen to.

Alan:
Is this just a problem with talent show contestants? Who do you think are good singers at present?

Don:
I would say that Mariah Carey is an excellent singer and so is Christina Aguilera – they are both very good singers in that mould. But then you have the kids trying to copy them singing way too many notes; they just don’t get it.

Joe Quimby:
Obviously today’s popular “music” is sub-par. But many things in life are cyclical. Do you envision a return someday to music that is written and performed for the benefit of the heart instead of the bank account?

Don:
First of all, music that benefited the heart has always been for the bank account. We must never forget that we’re in show business. What we have seen however is a change from being about music to it being about video and about looks and about television. What’s gone is the songwriting craft and all that went with it. Will it return? I do not believe so. My friend Joel Dorn was a very wise person and he once said, and I agree with him, things have a beginning and a end. The big bands are not coming back; the songwriters are not coming back; 50s rock n roll is not coming back. So my answer to that is fairly unequivocal – I don’t believe any of it is coming back. I think that you should get ready for the future, whatever that is.

Joe Quimby:
I once heard you mention that your children were “flabbergasted” when they heard ‘Castles in the air’ playing while they were in a supermarket. Would you say that they now have their ‘heads wrapped around’ the idea of who you are?

 

Don:
I would say yes they do but I don’t  really know what that means. There is so much out there on Youtube and the website. I am amazed at the presence I have on the Internet so I don’t know what they do in their spare time in terms of finding out about their father.

 

Joe Quimby:
Were he alive today it’s unlikely that Jim Croce would still be writing and singing about truck driving and drinking in bars. But have you ever contemplated what subjects he might have explored musically?

Don:
I have no idea what he would have written about but I can tell you that Jim Croce would have had a lot of hit records. He wrote hits; that’s what he wrote. He didn’t write songs which, like I do, once in a while get lucky and become hits. He wrote songs that were stone cold hit records and he would have had a lot of them you can be sure of that.

Joe Quimby:
Approximately what age did you become aware that your talent was of the VERY rare kind and was it one particular event that told you that or a gradual accumulation of successes that told you that?

Don:
I don’t think my talent is rare. What’s rare about me is that I’ve defended all efforts to try to make me into something I’m not. The only thing that makes me rare, if I am, is that I haven’t been turned into something I’m not. What can happen when you’ve been around for forty years, and this is something that happens a lot, you start to become a parody of yourself. You go through the motions and you become an impression of yourself. You don’t really do yourself anymore, because you don’t know who you are and that comes when you become very famous and then you work a lot all the time and I just think that happens to a lot of people. That’s the reason I don’t work an enormous amount because I don’t want to parody myself.

Joe Quimby:
What is the longest period of time you’ve gone without picking up the guitar?

Don:
Oh I don’t know, a month maybe.

Joe Quimby:
It seems obvious that Buddy Holly would have loved American Pie – but have you ever asked yourself what he would have thought of it? And what did you decide?

Don:
I’ve no idea what Buddy Holly would think of anything but I can tell you that he died when he was 21 years old and he probably had 60 major tracks recorded, and every one of them a hit record – and he wrote most of the songs himself. Let’s see somebody beat that!

An artist has to be fairly stupid to really want to do the same thing over and over again; either that or so mercenary that they don’t mind becoming a parody. Buddy was very smart and got bored with the same thing very quickly. He tried many different things including recording with a classically trained flamenco guitarist; and singing different songs in a different way – which you can hear on The Buddy Holly Story. He was becoming more Buddy Holly “as himself” and moving away from The Crickets. He was an enormous talent and he had a lot of creative interests.

Joe Quimby:
Your mother lived quite a bit longer than your father and was around to see your success.  What was her basic reaction to your “overnight success” in 1971? Was it more: “make sure to bank your money” or was it more: “so THIS is what you’ve been doing all day huh?”.

Don:
My mother never thought about money and she never really understood what was going on. My mother always believed in me and always loved my singing. She thought I had magic in me; of course all parents think their children have magic in them and all children do have magic. The problem is society knocks it out of them; it knocks the creativity out of the kids and makes them into little automatons. But they’re creative – oh my god they’re always making pictures and writing songs, singing and dancing and expressing themselves. Then they get in the school system and by the time that’s finished with them they’re afraid to think. Between the school system and religion they’re completely screwed up. My continued illnesses took me out of both of those institutions successfully and I think this is probably the reason why I found things to latch onto that satisfied me and gave me so much pleasure and happiness singing and later playing the guitar and later performing and later writing songs and making records. All of this stuff was just so much fun and so I never was sucked into the system.

My mother was very supportive and I would kid around with my mother and one day I told her that I was going to try out for the singing contest at the World Fair. I said ‘you just be ready now for the trophy I’m going to bring him.’ She said ‘Oh Don stop that…’. Anyhow I walked in the door with the trophy, it was about four feet high. She was always getting surprised by me but often said “I didn’t raise you; you raised yourself.” My mother was very honest and would come out with very cogent blunt assessments of things that were right on the money.

Joe Quimby:
Are you an early riser?

Don:
Yes I am but I’m also an insomniac. I’m up all hours of the night and day. I take a nap in the day and I’ll be up at two in the morning. I get up at 6.30 usually and may snooze for half an hour and then go to 4 in the afternoon so it’s really weird; I’m completely messed up as far as my sleeping habits go.

Joe Quimby:
Are you a black coffee man?

 

Don:
No but I am a coffee man and I like milk in my coffee.

 

Alan:
What’s your favourite food?

Don:
I can tell you that I’ve eaten at some of the best restaurants in the world but every now and again we will be on a bus tour of the UK and you know stop somewhere at a pub and have roast beef and beer and all the fixings and I think that’s probably my favourite food. Or we’ll go to a place in Ireland and have corned beef and cabbage  – I like the straight down the middle working man’s dinner.

Alan:
What you normally eat at home?

Don:
My wife is a terrific cook and she makes all kinds of different things which is part of the reason I’ve put on weight in the last 20 years. But I wanted to mention something about that also. I had a medical condition which required some cortisone use for a couple of years and it caused it to appear that I put on a tremendous amount of weight. People may wonder why that happened but that’s why. Also I never really shook the 20 pounds I put on when I got married because my wife cooked for me so well. Alan, you have never put on any weight which is remarkable – your wife must be a terrible cook!

Alan:
I do most of the cooking.

Don:
It must be highly indigestible!

My wife is a natural cook and she loves sweets and never puts on weight. So she’ll go to the restaurant and have four deserts and encourage me to have a bite of each but I just look at those deserts and put on 10 pounds. In the horse world that is known as being an “easy keeper”.

Christy:
“Everybody Loves me baby” IS about the coming of Dubya, isn’t it? Remarkably prescient of Don.

Don:
Well it certainly does sound like it! I have to admit!! Unbelievable! And I invented that guy!

Joe Quimby:
Is it a safe bet that Don Mclean will not be fundraising for Sarah Palin in 2012 (or any other time)?   😉

Don:
No I won’t be fund raising for Republicans period. They’ve really disappointed me in this last eight years and I would say that as far as Sarah Palin goes that she is the embodiment of blind ambition.

Christy:
A friend suggests that often Don is just playing with words and doesn’t mean for his songs to mean anything.

Don:
Well I do play with words a lot and often in songs I would coin words and I would make phrases like “teenage broncin’ buck” – I always thought that referred to my bronchial condition. It’s a little inside joke for myself, you know!!

So I would do things like that that were basically silly and correct they have no meaning at all; it was just for fun. There’s a lot of that in Narcissisma.

Joe Quimby:
You spoke very thoughtfully in your book about songwriting technique.  Recently a version of American Pie performed at WMUC radio in College Park Maryland has surfaced. In that recording the line appears often as: “I drove my chevy…..”. The actual recording omits the “I” of course. Can you give your reasoning for the omission or was it more a spur of the moment decision. Please excuse the song question; but I do think this unearthed recording excuses the questioner to some extent 😉

Don:
I’ve no idea what this recently surfaced tape is all about. I don’t know what it is. I’m not surprised – I sang the song and I would change around with the lyrics and have fun with them. It was so long ago now and I was a child. I didn’t have any idea that anything I did would be talked about all these years later and that every little change I made would be seen as meaning something. I would just do it just for kicks.

Lise Mitchell:
The day the music died happened on my first birthday.  JP Richardson was best man in my sister-in-laws’ second wedding, and one of Buddy Holly’s cousins works for my aunt and uncle in Gainesville, Texas – they have a commercial florist growing business.  I’ve memorized the entire song……and have always felt a particular closeness to it.

My question – how you ever been to that place – where the plane went down?  What did you feel there?  How does Buddy influence today – in contrast with the way he influence you so long ago.

Don:
In the eighties there were some pictures that surfaced of the plane  wreckage and I was appalled. No I have no interest in going to where the plane went down or any of that stuff and I think it’s tacky and I think people shouldn’t do things like that. I’m sure it’s not a place Buddy Holly wanted to be so I don’t think there’s any reason to go there.

Thanh-Xuân Vo:
I love your song “1967”. The lyrics are so real ! I would like to know when did you write that song exactly, and if “buddy Joe” really existed for you.

Don:
No, Joe did not exist and I was not in the Vietnam War but it was a fantasy and I’m very proud of that song. I think the Headroom album was quite an artistic success from my point of view. Again, I had to fight uphill – no one involved with that record liked it, nobody wanted to do what I was doing. It was such an extra burden that was placed on me in order to get that record made.

1967 was a fantasy and I wrote it  a long time after Vietnam. It occurred to me that we were very cruel to a lot of the Vietnam veterans because this country hated that war just as they hate the war in Iraq. Although we’ve learned not to be cruel to the soldiers because we’ve realised they went just where they were sent. So the song says “I went because they sent me”. There are some young men and women who don’t think passed that point because their country tells them to do something, they feel it’s their patriotic duty obligation to do what the country says. You have to respect that even though it’s not the best result you would hope for after a long period of time in the educational system but it has to be respected.

Thanh-Xuân Vo:
Is there a story behind your song “You have lived” ? What does the phrase “this frightened atmosphere” mean?

Don:
It’s one of those songs about a girl whose not afraid to be herself. The “frightened atmosphere” is the way things are always. Look how frightened we are all the time. In fact the Bush administration has made a career out of frightening the American public. Just recently we’ve been frightened into giving 700 billion dollars to the people who stole it. So it’s always a frightened atmosphere – that’s the world around you and that song respects the individual who will be his or herself.

Harry Tavitian:
Your “Homeless Brother” L.P. is a huge favourite of mine. Among the tracks is George Harrison’s “Sunshine Life for Me (Sail Away Raymond)”. I would like to ask you how you came to record this song. It is a fine, fine version and I wonder if Harrison ever made a comment on it. Thank you.

Don:
I have no idea where I heard that song – maybe it was on a Ringo record. But Joel Dorn got one of the greatest percussionists in the world in that studio – Ralph McDonald. Ralph McDonald was a terrific person, a wonderful guy and a phenomenal talent. Ralph McDonald created that whole thing and it sounds like birds and jungle and it was remarkable. That’s the kind of thing Joel Dorn did – he handmade a recording. He would spend hours and hours and hours overlaying like a tapestry and stitching together a track. I just loved him and I miss him. His tracks were also very delicate. You could see into them a great distance and there were tiny sounds. You could listen to the track a 1000 times and always hear something else. That to me is the art of making records that I miss and the people I used to work with who could do that are no longer around.

Janis Thornton:
Don, my favorite song of yours is “Empty Chairs.” I’d always thought the woman, who was the object of the song, had given up on the relationship and walked away. But now, 30 years later, when I listen to the song, I believe the woman has died. What, in your mind, did happen to the woman?

Don:
It is the end of a relationship – that’s what that song is about.

Dave Power:
I have seen you many times over the last 36 years and most recently in Manchester and Liverpool where you were kind enough to sign my 1973 English tour programme. Your performances have meant I have discovered older music songwriters and artists which I would never have known. You are almost a curator of music history which without you would be lost. Have you ever thought of documenting your encyclopaedic knowledge of songs ,musical style and songwriters in a book, future recordings or a documentary? It would make a great TV series .There are few people left who can pass on this legacy with both integrity and authenticity. Many thanks for enriching my life,

Don:
That would require work and I don’t like work, I like fun. My idea of doing a TV series is not fun so I have no interest in any of that stuff. But I love interviews, interviews are great. I like interviews over the phone too. Alan – I love your wife, I love your children – they’re terrific – but you’re getting the chicken pox so I wouldn’t want to be in the room with you doing this interview. I’d be thinking about how you looked and whether I saw any indication of your disease and it would cause me not to be able to think clearly about the answers. So the phone is great. In fact I thought a great idea for a documentary movie would be to have a lot of phone calls with me answering questions while they’re showing the footage of stuff.

I have a very disjointed and spotty encyclopaedic knowledge of music. You know I know whole repertoires of people I like but then I know a lot of dumb songs and I know a lot of pop songs and a lot of folk songs; a lot of rockabilly and rock n roll songs but there are huge areas of country music that I’m not familiar with and many artists in country music I’m not familiar with. Then I have a lot of areas that are of interest to no one but myself so I don’t think it would make a great TV show as I would really have large areas that I was ignorant of and then small areas that I was very knowledgeable about. It’s spotty.

Jouko Linko:
I´ve been a Don McLean-fan  for forty years but I´ve never seen you  live. I´m not sure if you ever been to Sweden or Norway.

Don:
I’ve been to both Sweden and Norway.

Jouko Linko:
But I know you never been to Finland – so have you ever thought of playing a few gigs in Finland?

Don:
I have been to Finland in the seventies. I like Finland and I like the way they love reindeer over there – they eat reindeer, they play with reindeer. You hear the reindeer all the time and I like Christmas, so I love Finland. And I like the people there.

Roelof Willems:
May be you think  I have a sort of strange question. Although I’m only 56 years old, I sometimes think about the music that should be played at my cremation.

Don:
Oh boy.

Roelof Willems:
I think it’s better to choose the music myself – although I may not hear it then – than leave it to my relatives. I know exactly what I want the people to listen to. It will be the last message to my beloved ones. The song that surely must be played is “Oh my what a shame” from the Don McLean album (your best album ever, I think). My question is what is the reason for writing this song and do you think that the lyrics are suitable for a funeral/cremation?

Don:

Well first of all I don’t think you should be thinking about your funeral when you’re 56. I think you should plan to live till 96 and live that way. But I understand the reality and I guess it is fun to think about what people will think if you’re not around. I’ve learnt that the older you live the less people give a damn when you die because they feel you’ve had a great life and now it’s time for you to get out of here.

 

Roelof Willems:
Did you ever think about the music you want to be played at your funeral or cremation?

Don:

  1. When I die I have no idea of what my wife will do if I pre-decease her but my music will be played all over the place so you won’t be able to get away from me for a while.

Roelof Willems:
Beside “Oh my what a shame”, I want to have played “Rain on the Roof” by The Lovin’ Spoonful (my all time favourite), a song by Buddy Holly (possibly “True Love Ways”) and a song by Madonna (“Live to Tell” or “Gone”). By the way, great concert this year at Turnhout. Thank you very much for that.

Don:
The song “Oh my what a shame” is influenced a little bit by “The  Water is Wide” and also by the fact that we never really understand  why we do so many things – whether it’s go to war or fall in love or why things happen the way they do. It’s an interesting little song. A lot of songs I wrote I don’t even know what I’m writing until I’ve written it and then I look at it and think ‘oh that’s interesting’. There’s just something about life that’s not what you think it is. I mean Alan you’re right in the middle of a wonderful time period with your children and your wife – it’s just such a great time but someday they’ll walk out of the door and they’ll go to school and you’ll look in the mirror and you’ll be older and you’ll think ‘what happened?’ I’m kinda there now – my daughter is at college, my son is six inches taller than I and so it’s quite a mystery. It’s like a river that flows along and things move very slowly and soon some things are just out of sight and some things are so far out of sight like my friends at Iona that I can’t even remember how it was anymore. I’ve now had 22 years of married life, raised my children but the great part about it is that it keeps coming around and around because now the kids are older they are great friends and we’re all very close and hopefully the tribe will increase and become more dynamic. So you lose and you gain so that’s why I think it’s a very poor use of your time to think about your cremation. There is so much living to do.

There may even be a time in the future when I’m  totally inspired to write a lot of songs and maybe I’ll make a double album of all new things because some switch got switched on. But right now that switch is off and the album Addicted to Black will be the last album of my own songs unless a switch is switched on at some point. I don’t believe in being a bore or putting out a lot of crap that nobody cares about and I don’t believe in repeating myself and I never was very impressed by songwriters who weren’t very good but say “I’ve written 600 songs” – well so what. I just try to do a few things that matter to me and this album does matter to me and I think people will like it.

Apzal Hosein:
Hi Mr. Mclean.  I have been a devout follower of your music but as yet not saw you in concert.  Do you think realizing a dream coming true there is a loss to the dreamer?  In other words if I saw you in concert will i lose the awe that i currently have of you or should i take the risk. I am a Muslim and my religion preaches against holding any human in too much esteem as it is a form of worship.  What do you thing of that concept?  That is why Muslims have no idea of what the prophet of Islam looks like.  This way we can concentrate only on God and not on for eg. Jesus- whom we consider a great prophet of God and a Brother to Muhammad and just that.  A fan always.

Don:
This is a very interesting. Well I would say that we don’t understand Muslims as well as we should. I would also say that we don’t understand other countries as well as we should. We definitely, and I’m speaking as an American, do not respect the strength and the traditions of people in foreign countries. We have learned the lesson repeatedly in America that we think we can go over to a country like Vietnam or to Iraq and step on these people and think they’re just going to roll over because they’re poor and we’re rich and they’re weak and we’re strong. In fact we find out that they are strong and we are weak. We need to learn this lesson and it’s a very important lesson to learn.

A guy like George Bush never learnt this lesson because a guy like George Bush never went to public school. In my public school in New Rochelle, if a guy like George Bush was around he would have been beaten up once a day every day until he didn’t have the attitude that he has. But he never had that happen so he avoided that part of his education which we as public school kids had to learn and that is to respect the other guy; respect the little guy; respect the quiet guy; and don’t think that you’re a tough guy just because you’re a rich guy. Anybody can be rich but it takes a lot of character to really be tough.

I would say that this individual should do what his heart tells him to do. I would love to meet him and to have him come to one of my shows and I’m sure when the show is over he would not hold me in too much esteem but he would say he had enjoy it.

Bill Hamilton:
It is said that you intended your free concert in Hyde Park in 1975 to be a thank you and a farewell to your UK fans. Was that genuinely your intention at that time, what did you plan to do instead, and what made you change your mind to the extent that you still grace our shores 30 years later?

Don:
This is an urban legend. I don’t know where this came from.

Alan:
It’s in the book.

Don:
Well it’s your fault, you did it!

No, no, I never intended it to be a farewell. I was just getting started; I don’t know how that got out. Did I say that?

Alan:
I think you did. It was in all the original interview material for the book. You said ‘the pressures of three and a half years superstardom had become so intense that you yearned to step completely out of the public eye.’

Don:
Oh well. I want to correct myself.

It had to do with my withdrawal in 74 when I kind of cracked up a little bit, which was written about in the book so it might have been connected to that whole thing. I probably did want to step out of the spotlight but I never intended to retire or give up or anything like that. People have always thought I should retire but I never planned to do that.

Alan:
In the book you actually say the concert was “torture”:

Don:
The 1970s were torture. It was basically my poor mind adjustment to the requirements of success. I found that being successful required so much of me and being fundamentally a guy who wants to do what he wants to do I found myself in a straight-jacket a lot of the time, racing around from radio station to radio station and doing this and that. This was the part I didn’t enjoy. Also there were a lot of personal things going on – I was married at the time and miserable with that situation; it was just horrible. It’s sad because it was such a great time for me and I should have been able to enjoy it more.

That’s the reason that third album, “Don McLean”, was written and is the way it is. I’m just a conduit; just a camera – I try to keep telling my story and other people’s stories as I see them through that lens without any kind of filter and without any kind of apology. It’s not a commercial approach to being in the music business; that’s not the way they do it. The way you do it is you sing songs that become hits. That’s not how I do things but in spite of that fact some songs have become famous, so I don’t know, how do you explain that? I don’t have an answer.

There are other urban legends by the way. One of them is that I didn’t play “American Pie” for a long time. That’s totally false. I always played that song because I knew it was what people wanted to hear. They pay a lot of money to hear me and I would never not play it and disappoint them. It sometimes sounds like I am always doing everything to please myself but I’m actually very interested in pleasing the audience and making them happy while at the same time enjoying it myself so we both have a good time. I think that’s the key to my longevity – I still enjoy my performing, it’s not torture. I’m very concerned that I give everything I possibly can because it might be the last time I’m ever there, you never know. I treat every show as if it’s the last one.

Jo:
I love your songs from the Believers album, they are truly unique and were recorded I believe after you’d been living in Israel for a period of time. Was there something particularly inspirational about that country or that period of time in your life?

Don:
The Believers album could have been better – I sort of fell down on the job on that one. However we do quite a few songs from the Believers album now with the new guitarist.

The Israel experience was a life changer for me because I realised how incredibly safe America was relative to a country like Israel where you could hear the Iran- Iraq war progressing every night and bombs were going off and the PLO were around.  People experienced all kinds of violence on a daily basis; everyone carried a gun and there were a lot of soldiers around with military weapons. So once I got through with that and I came back to America I realised that we didn’t have any problems and that I didn’t have any problems so it was a big step forward in becoming less self-indulgent for me.

Alan:
Have you returned to Israel since the 1980s?

Don:
No I have no intention of going back to that area again. It’s quite different and I wouldn’t feel comfortable there now but it was an interesting experience.

Jo:
Do you have the time or inclination for sightseeing when you’re on tour?

Don:
I do sightseeing when I’m on tour because I’m in a sightseeing bus. We stop at all sorts of places and have dinner or see some beautiful historic place. So yes I see a lot as I travel around but I’m not a guy that brings a camera and does all that. It all goes in my head and that’s how I like it –  I want to remember what I remember.

Joe Quimby:
With all the touring and travel you’ve had to do over the years are you “averse” to vacationing? Is it more of a vacation if you get to stay at home?

Don:
Well it is a vacation when I stay at home and that’s why I have a wonderful place that is very hard to leave. I have taken vacations with the children and we may do that again. However I am somewhat averse to travelling unless there is a musical reason for it or some reason to do with it that has to do with career. I’m just done so much that I’ve almost got an allergy to airports.

Alan:
Do you ever take an overseas vacation?

Don:
Oh god no.

They even asked me to speak at Trinity College in Ireland but I couldn’t do it, I just couldn’t travel over there. I didn’t even go to California when BMI wanted to give me an award when ‘American Pie’ was going great. You couldn’t blast me out of this house with dynamite and so I’ve turned down a lot of things like that and sometimes they offered me a lot of money and I just have to say I’m sorry I can’t do that. There’s something to be said for sleeping in your own bed on a regular basis.

f.a.martorana 68 Iona:
I had the pleasure of meeting you again in Mason, Ohio in 2004 after 36 years. You were signing autographs after your concert. I brought the 68 College yearbook up to you because i graduated the same year. and was in a couple of economics classes with you taught by Bro. Anthony Glennon. There was a long line waiting for your autograph and i wanted to ask you who was the red cherub face guy that you used to pal around with. I remember his face but for the life of me can’t find him in the yearbook. I think you and he played in a group but i could be wrong.  i know you were friends with him. He looked Irish or Scottish and i think you used to play music together in the concerts in the library or in Mcspadden hall, but i can’t say for sure.

Don:
I do not remember that individual.

f.a.martorana 68 Iona:
Do you ever socialize at all with your Iona friends or is that not possible? Anyway if you could take the time to answer that question i would appreciate it. I remember you in 68 as wearing somewhat of a cashmere coat with your guitar strapped around you neck who knew 4 years later all the world would be singing your classic hit American Pie.

Don:
No, I don’t really have any friends from Iona. I basically lost touch with high school and college immediately after I graduated. In fact I saw a very interesting biography on Weird Al Yankovic, who is a terrific guy and friend of ours. He got a degree in Architecture and he said that I knew when I got my degree, standing in cap and gown, I was getting a degree I would never use and it was the only time I’ve said heard someone say exactly what I thought the day I got my degree in Business Administration. I knew the first thing I was going to do was to get as far away from New Rochelle as possible and start pursuing my singing career. I never like the word “dream” – I never pursued a “dream”; I pursued a reality – I had goals. I really don’t like the term the “American Dream” – the problem with my country is that people really do dream too much and now they’re getting a very rude awakening. I therefore prefer to set goals for myself and try to achieve those goals so I couldn’t wait to get at those goals and try to achieve them the day after I got out of college.

Neil Mungur:
I was wondering if you had any idea of just how special the American Pie album was whilst you were recording it?

Don:
No, I did not.

Neil Mungur:
It still sounds incredible today. I also wondered why for so long after you didn’t perform the title track? sorry if these have been asked before.

Don:
That’s an urban myth and it seems every interview I’ve ever done I’ve been asked about that. And in every interview I’ve done I’ve said it’s not true and that I’ve always sung the song. But still people will not get it and stop asking that question. It makes me wonder how true history can possibly be when I cannot even correct a small factual error and I’m alive! It just makes you wonder, is any of the history you read true?! It makes you realise that people really believe what they want to believe. They believe the myth that it was too much of a burden for me, which was floated out there by many of the rock writers because I could never follow the song, and therefore it must be a burden and therefore I probably wouldn’t sing it. It’s just all a bunch of BS.

Terry Steer:
I haven’t missed a concert tour since 1973 – those early concerts at the Hordern Pavillion (I even have one of them on audio tape) It seems to me that the numbers which get the loudest applause are the solo numbers. Is there any chance you’ll do another solo concert tour?

Don:
There is no chance that I will do a solo tour. The applause for the solo numbers comes because of the contrast. An hour of me just singing by myself is not something that I would want to hear anymore. Maybe in the 70s it was different but I’m not tuned into the whole timing and rhythm required to do that. It is something that is reminiscent of my folk roots which were never real and permanent – they were just part of what I was. I try to keep every aspect of what I have done in the concerts so I do a solo number once or twice or sit down for 20 minutes and play the guitar. I like to listen to people play the guitar but I also like singing with a group.

Dick Brownfield:
Have you ever been in a movie or are you planning to be in one?  I’d like to see you perform a song in the next Bond flick. 🙂

Don:
No I’m not planning on being in a movie, however my songs are all available for movies and television. I love that when it happens and it happens a lot. The last one was Charlie Wilson’s War with Tom Hanks which had “American Pie” in it.

Nathan Bell:
I would like to ask about the cover to the self-titled ‘Don McLean’ album.  It has always struck me as a very beautiful yet haunting and melancholy image.  My question is where was this photo taken, and what was Don’s inspiration for using this image, or how does he feel it relates to the music on that album?

Don:
This is taken by a man named John Olsen for a feature on me in Life magazine in 1972. It was taken on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River in Cold Spring, NY, which was near the little gatehouse where I used to live at that time.

 

Rick Jennings:
Goofy question (since I am a guitarist). Do you also play electric guitar ?, and what do you have for a instrument collection ?

Don:
I do not play the electric guitar. I can play the electric guitar but I would play it in the same way I play the acoustic guitar so there wouldn’t be any difference. So what’s the point?

Vivian Harper:
When I come back to earth again it will be as a tall gorgeous blond who can sing.

Don:
You must mean Julie London (“Cry me a River”). Julie London is the sexiest female singer that has ever lived. In case you folks out there don’t know who she is, she was married to Jack Webb but she was the most beautiful singer that has ever lived and a great sexy singer too.

Vivian Harper:
Have you been a good father and husband?  The two don’t always go together ….I think.

Don:
That is a very difficult question for me to answer. My wife and children would have to answer that but I can say that I’ve done my very best.

Steve Brown:
I would be interested to know, that should you ever be stranded on a desert island (heaven forbid) which three songs of yours would you take?

Don:
God, I can’t answer that… That’s a crazy question because if I were on a desert island I would remember 10,000 songs.

Anyhow, I guess I’d need a power source of some sort – a solar record player. Let’s assume that could all be worked out and I had a solar ipod with three songs on it that would last a 1000 years. I don’t know which 3 songs but two of them would have to be “Don’t be Cruel” and “Satisfaction”. But then again there are songs that are not down the middle but that I love just as much as songs like “White Christmas” and there might just be a little song on the side that I would listen to as often as a song like “Don’t be Cruel” so I can answer that question.

Alan:
Have you got an ipod?

Don:
No, I have a sports Walkman that I’ve had for 15 years!

Alan:
But you’re all fixed up on the Internet and watch Youtube…

Don:
Yeah, today Universal Songs called and they asked me what my email address was so they could send me an “e-” Christmas card. I’m not calling them back because I want a Christmas card in the mail with a stamp on it, thank you.

Alan:
Finally, do you have any plans to retire from the music business?

Don:
I don’t plan to retire from the music business . It really is a wonderful thing that has happened to me because I’m a 63 year old man and I still have people screaming and jumping up and down and getting excited and it’s such an honour to still be able to perform for all age groups and get the really good jobs I get overseas through the Asgard Agency and Paul Charles in London and Steve Martin. It’s a nice time in my life to be having these types of things happen and I’ve been really enjoying it lately –instead of sweating about travel and all the little things I have always worried about, I’ve just been telling myself that everything is going to be alright and just go with the flow. I’m not really a go with the flow guy. I’m actually a swim upstream guy but I’ve been doing the other thing. I guess I’ve realised that I’ve done enough.

 

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank all the fans who submitted questions for this interview, including those who weren’t lucky enough to have them featured here. We have included as many questions as we could manage. The transcript has been approved by Don but is entirely “uncut” from what was said in the live interview.

1 Comment

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  1. “So down to earth.great interview, very insightful.Fame has not made Don Mclean a snob Very smart and savvy as well. I am a BIG fan.”

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