Early Don McLean recording of American Pie

This is an early recording of Don singing “American Pie” unearthed from the archives of WMUC radio, a student run station at the University of Maryland.

The station believes the recording originates from spring 1971, well before the song was released for sale as a single. There are some differences between this WMUC recording and the lyrics and music as we know them from the record.

Don  has listened to the recording but doesn’t recall anything about it except to say that, in general, he did “play with the lyrics, just for fun sometimes.”


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  1. Just awoke from a dream at 3:30 am, where I was at work, singing American Pie. Went to YouTube on my iPhone and listened to Don and his interview in Amsterdam, when he met a girl in Israel. Surprised to find this early recording – it’s as fresh and beautiful as a fall morning when I was 15. Have to take my son Jack, 12, to a concert.

  2. Don, Just returned from my niece’s wedding reception. I was astonished! When AP was played, 3 generations were singing along. What an amazing song. The youngest generation (20 somethings) was very familiar with the tune and had their own opinion as to what the lyrics meant. (whatever it all means) God love you Don.

  3. Listening to this took me way back to my pre University years when I fell in love with Don’s music. I had just found out I had obtained a place at York University {in the UK folks} and had tickets to see Don perform at Birmingham Town Hall. I had been waiting to see him for some time and was really looking forward to the concert but calamity!! The term {or as you guys call it semester} was I understood due to commence two days before the concert and as it was my first year there were a number of administrative tasks that had to be completed, like Registration, which I couldn’t miss. A lot of my friends at other Universities and Colleges had confirmation of their starting date and they were all the same – before the concert. My pleasure at attaining my place was dissipated by the thought that I would miss the concert AND THEN GOD INTERVENED!. A letter arrived from the University giving the term dates – 2 days after Don was due to perform! I thought all my Christmases had come at once. On October 9th 1973 I took my seat in the balcony at the Town Hall and sat as Don worked his magic. Vincent had been released only a few months previously and there I was watching him sing it. I’ve seen Don many times since but my memories of that first date are as clear as ever – oh ok it may not have been October 9th but it was there or thereabouts.

  4. I like this. Takes me back to my childhood. And surprisingly clear.
    At times Don might change a word or two singing AP in a concert, which made it more interesting.
    Love it when he does an instrumental verse during his performance.
    Growing up in Cold Spring, my friends and I would go to his house for his autograph, which he gladly gave us. To me, back then, he was larger than life. Yet he was very down to earth. And still is. On occassion Don and I would have a nice conversation after a concert talking about Cold Spring. He’s a very cordial person.

    1. Oh I would give absolutly everything to talk with Don, adored him for over 42 years, but although I have been to his concerts I have always had to leave straight afterwards. I don’t envy people usually but I envy you with all my heart, you are so fortunate. How I wish I could speak with him. Sue x

  5. Hey there Don, Seldom does anyone come by Topeka I would want to see. Thanks much. Seeing you and Judy will be special this next Friday night. I am in my last year at Washburn University and have not seen a good show past Farm Aid in Kansas City a while back. I collect autographs for my self. I have a signed C.F. Martin IV table book with Dick Boak. I do not sell my findings. I have Neil Young , Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, David Crosby, Joe Walsh, Bonnie Raitt, Joan Baez, Mark Knoffler, album covers and a few other folks like Stephen King, Tom Wolf and Groucho Marx. I would love to see what the Martin custom shop created for you. I need to know if you and Judy might sign my new ukulele, and how would that could happen. Thanks much, Joel in Topeka… 785.215.5547

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