A long, long time ago, or 50 years to be exact, Don McLean released American Pie, a timeless song which still has us thinking about its meaning.
American Pie is the song that came from a little boy who loved rock and roll.- Don McLean
And today, November 7, the Grammy award honouree, Songwriters Hall of Fame member and BBC Lifetime Achievement Award recipient has announced he will be bringing his American Pie 50th Anniversary Tour to Australia in 2023.
McLean, 76, is celebrating the song's 50th birthday with a world tour, while a children's book, Don McLean's American Pie: A Fable, arrived in June and there is a documentary.
McLean and his band have been playing a run of shows throughout 2022, starting in Hawaii in late January and heading through North America before heading to the UK and winding up in Europe at the end of October.
He will entertain fans across Australia from April 1, proving that "bye-bye, Miss American Pie" will forever remain a classic staple in music.
"I am thrilled to be getting back to Australia with my band," McLean told The Senior.
"2022 marks the 50th anniversary from when American Pie landed at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard chart and we will be celebrating. We'll be performing all the songs from the American Pie album plus many of the other hits that fans will be expecting to hear.
"I've got a new album which will be released very soon and I'll be performing songs from that one too."
As tragic as the backstory behind the song American Pie is with the early death of the new rock'n'roll-hope Buddy Holly, the track is also legendary.
McLean, a fan of Buddy Holly, addressed the accident in American Pie, dubbing it the Day the Music Died, which for McLean symbolised the loss of innocence of the early rock-and-roll generation.
He was a 13-year-old paperboy in New Rochelle, New York, on the day his hero died in a 1959 plane crash, which inspired the song's opening verses and line "the day the music died."
"That was the only job I ever had. Being a paperboy made me sure I never wanted to work for anyone in my life. I am unemployable. I work for no man. I work for me. I have done what I wanted to do my entire life," he said.
"American Pie is the song that came from a little boy who loved rock and roll. I was a little boy who looked up to Buddy Holly. I carried that song with me for about 10 years before I wrote it."
McLean said he never dreamed the song would remain so popular and relevant 50 years later or that scholars and music fans alike would still be discussing its meaning.
"I'm truly delighted that the 50th anniversary is expanding the song into a whole different area with merchandise, lines of clothing, the movie, the book, a tour. I'm going nuts right now. I'm giving everything to my foundation, which aids college students, homeless shelters and food banks in Maine."
In the documentary The Day The Music Died, McLean discusses for the first time in 50 years the meaning of the lyrics in American Pie.
"American Pie is still relevant today because it continues to do what it's always done, what I hoped it would do. It helps young people think about rock 'n' roll and Buddy Holly and American history."
Facets of American Pie have become part of American culture, spanning generations. McLean's lyrics retroactively influenced the perception of a major event in the early days of rock and roll.
The plane crash that killed musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper (J. P. Richardson) later became known as The Day the Music Died after McLean referred to it as such.
But don't forget that McLean has written and sung numerous other melodic and harmonic successes with Vincent (Starry Starry Night), Castles in the Air, And I Love You So and Cryin'.
In March, McLean celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Vincent (Starry, Starry Night) by releasing an intimate performance that was recorded at the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit.
The eight-and-a-half-minute ballad American Pie has been making history since its release in 1971. Alongside songs by other icons such as Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Woody Guthrie, and Aretha Franklin, McLean's composition was also voted Song of the 20th Century.
Handwritten lyrics were auctioned for more than $1.2 million in 2015, and two years later the composition was added to the Library Of Congress National Recording Registry where you will only find a few selected evergreens, such as Somewhere Over The Rainbow.
Over the years, the song has been covered again and again by music icons like Madonna and Garth Brooks. Rapper Drake repeatedly sampled McLean tunes and hip-hop icon Tupac Shakur also cited him as an important influence.
It was the longest song to reach number one until Taylor Swift's All Too Well (Taylor's Version) broke the record in 2021. Some stations played only part one of the original split-sided single release.
The complete discography of the legendary and still active singer/songwriter is also significant. Among other things, McLean has a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame and was inducted into the National Academy of Popular Music Songwriters' Hall Of Fame in 2004.
And he never gets tired of writing new songs and new stories. In 2018, he released his 19th studio album Botanical Gardens to rave reviews. Songs from it subsequently proved themselves live and will maybe even find their way into the setlist next year.
"My entire life is my dream come true. I just wanted to write songs and sing," he said.
"I can't believe I have lasted this long. I sometimes think 'Goddamn it Don, you are still alive and you've done so many things.' But I am in very good shape for my age - a little overweight - and my energy levels are strong.
"I love singing. I have a great band. They swing and I swing and we all swing together.
"So many, many, many good things have happened to me and it's all because of music - the music that made American Pie the single of the 20th century."
Supporting McLean on the tour will be Andrew Farriss (INXS).
- Tickets go on sale on Friday, November 11, at 9am and are available at www.oneworldentertainment.com.au