Singer-songwriter Don McLean, who this year is celebrating the 50th anniversary of his timeless hit "American Pie," told Newsmax on Wednesday that he doesn't think a similar phenomenon as his song would come out of today's music industry.
"We had a different time period back in 1970-71," McLean, whose best-known song is the basis of a new children's book, "American Pie: A Fable," told Newsmax's "American Agenda." "You knew what the audience wanted. We were in sync. I couldn't do that today. [We are in] different times, a different, totally different country now."
Further, in the late 1960s to early 1970s, "you had many songwriters writing unique songs, 'Good Vibrations,' 'Day in the Life,' you know, we were really stretching out and writing things that were unheard of really in popular music."
That will never happen again, McLean said, because now, "the song really doesn't matter that much. Now it's more the spectacle, you know, it's background music for all the stuff on stage, the set changes, and everything. When this came out, I mean, even back then, most songs were three minutes long, and they got to it. They got to their hook then got out. This was completely different when it came out."
McLean's 8 ½-minute masterpiece was picked as one of the five greatest songs of the 20th century through a poll by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Recording Industry Association of America. “American Pie” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2003.
McLean had other songs, including "Vincent," and "Crying," but he said many people didn't know he was behind those because all of his songs are different.
"That's just what I do, and now and then I get lucky and something would happen," he said. "In those days, again, you had this audience and they like these records and so that's really what sustained me. I was an album artist, really not a commercial artist."
McLean's new book is introducing the concept of his song to a new generation. In it, the song is not followed "exactly" but is referenced to talk about a paperboy named Donny, who eventually finds joy through music.
McLean said he enjoyed participating in the book, published through interviews with the publishing company Meteor 17 because there is "less for children" of today.
"Their childhood has almost been taken away from them," he said. "They go so quickly into high speed, going into school of a sudden, rush, rush, rush, and computers and all this stuff, and I just it's too bad. They don't have at least seven years of being blissfully ignorant … we have an environment now where we have to have TV all the time."
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