“American Pie” manuscript sold for $1.2m

auction

“For more than 40 years I have rambled around every state of the union and many, many countries of the world. My primary interests in life have been America, singing, songwriting, and the English language. I love the English language as much as anything in life and words really do mean something. I thought it would be interesting as I reach age 70 to release this work product on the song American Pie so that anyone who might be interested will learn that this song was not a parlor game. It was an indescribable photograph of America that I tried to capture in words and music and then was fortunate enough through the help of others to make a successful recording. I would say to young songwriters who are starting out to immerse yourself in beautiful music and beautiful lyrics and think about every word you say in a song.” Don McLean, Feb 13, 2015.

On April 7 2015, Don McLean’s original working manuscript for “American Pie” sold for $1,205,000 (£809,524/€1,109,182) at Christies’ auction rooms, New York, making it the third highest auction price achieved for an American literary manuscript.

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.”

Tribute to Don McLean: “Slice” by Five for Fighting

Don McLean is honored that John Ondrasik has written and recorded a tribute to him. “Slice” is currently enjoying airplay on radio stations across America.

From Billboard:

Five For Fighting’s John Ondrasik is hoping that “a slice of American Pie” will prove tasty enough to become his next hit single.

The song is the title track of Five For Fighting’s fifth album, “Slice,” and an optimistic Ondrasik tells Billboard.com that the song “has been getting the kind of response that ‘Superman’,” his 2000 hit, “had before it got on radio. People react to that song even though they’ve never heard it before, maybe because of the audience and the nature of the lyrics.”

“Slice” finds Ondrasik singing about “a long, long time ago,” before cellular telephones and the Internet, when a single song — in this case Don McLean’s “American Pie” — united an entire society. ” ‘Slice’ is for those of us who remember the day we all used to sing the same song,” explains Ondrasik, who co-wrote the song with “Godspell” and “Wicked” composer Stephen Schwartz. “We’ll see if the lyric is something that can transcend the masses or if just something like folks over 40 relate to it.”

He’s also curious to hear McLean’s take on the tune. “If the song finds its way out there, we’ll see if McLean reaches out. Obviously it’s a tribute to him, and every night I talk about his song in my show. We’ll see if he cares.”

American Pie re-release

EMI will be re-releasing the American Pie album this year. The ’30th’ anniversary version will include Aftermath and Mother Nature (from the AP sessions), liner notes, comments from Don on each song, and new photos. The original master tape will be used to provide the best sound quality modern technology can offer.

Tentative release date of late June 2003.

American Pie – top 5 song of the 20th Century

Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ has been voted number 5 in a poll of the 365 ‘Songs of the Century’ compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The top five are:
“Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland
“White Christmas” by Bing Crosby
“This Land Is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie
“Respect” by Aretha Franklin;
and “American Pie” by Don McLean.”

The poll included votes from musicians, critics, industry professionals, elected officials and amateur music fans. Don McLean described it as being a major honor.