More Than 50 Years After ‘American Pie,’ Don McLean Looks Back at His Career—“I Started Out Writing Simple Things”


by Annie Reuter

American Songwriter

November 20, 2023

Don McLean (Photo Courtesy 29110

“I’m not folk, and I’m not rock, and I’m not country – I’m just me,” Don McLean said during his Musicians Hall of Fame induction speech in November. “I’m kind of a guy who invents songs.”

And invent songs he does. McLean is the sole author behind the famed “American Pie,” which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2021, and the popular ballad “And I Love You So,” which has been recorded by Elvis Presley, Glen Campbell, Rick Astley, and Perry Como. The Songwriters Hall of Famer began writing songs as a teenager and hasn’t stopped since.

The 77-year-old was drawn to music from a young age. As an infant, McLean tried to sing along with his mother to Stephen Foster’s “Beautiful Dreamer.” When he was older, he’d sit with his grandmother as she played piano. His father’s mother, who stayed with the family for four months each year, taught him piano and how to harmonize.

“Singing was really the thing I could do that would seem to get me paid attention to in a good way,” McLean tells American Songwriter while seated inside the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum in Nashville hours before his induction. “My life has been a journey of finding myself and finding things that I could do that I didn’t believe I was capable of.”

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