In a preview clip, Rather asks McLean why he thinks his most famous song, “American Pie,” remains so popular almost 50 years after its release.
“I don’t know,” McLean answers. “There are so many aspects to it. You know, you’ll see different parts of it used all over. People use it for parodies. Kids sing it. Children grow up with it, ’cause…on a certain level, it’s a children’s song.”
The 74-year-old singer/songwriter also describes “American Pie” as “one of these sort of mythical type folk songs…where the poetry is a little bit obscure, but it’s not completely unknowable.”
Rather then points out that many people consider the song to be about the perceived “decline of America” that happened during the 1960s.
“Well, I was seeing that,” says McLean. “To me, when [President] Kennedy was killed, all bets were off. That was a much bigger event than 9/11, which was a huge event. It was the beginning of Americans being in doubt about what they believed in and who they were.”
Among the other topics McLean discusses on the episode is how painter Vincent Van Gogh inspired him to write his hit song “Vincent.”
Regarding his experience chatting with Rather, Don says, “I have never been interviewed by anyone that was so educated and knowledgeable about my career than Dan was. He asked me things far beyond the typical questions you get when doing interviews. What a gentleman and very thought out person.”
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