Our Top 10 Don McLean songs takes a look at the career of an artist who is responsible for one of the most famous musical pieces of all time. As the composer and artist behind the classic song “American Pie,” Don McLean’s legacy has been cemented forever in the landscape of musical history.
Don McLean released his first album in 1970. From that point on, Don McLean has released twenty one studio albums. Our Top 10 Don McLean songs list is just a fun look at some of Don McLean’s most loved songs that have made him an American legend.
# 10 – Wonderful Baby
We open up our top 10 Don McLean songs list with the great songs Wonderful Baby. The song was very successful for Don McLean. The song was released in 1975 on the Homeless Brother album. The song “Wonderful Baby,” hit the number one spot on the U.S. Billboard Adult charts.
# 9 – You Can’t Blame the Train
The lure of country music tends to come calling for many great rock and roll and folk music artists from the 50s, 60s and 70s as these stars continue onward into the later part of their careers. Don McLean was still rather young at the time when he released his country album in 1987 entitled Love Tracks. However it still was sixteen years past his glory days of American Pie stardom. Nonetheless, there were some really good tracks on the Love Tracks albums. Our favorite was the album’s first single entitled “You Can’t Blame the Train.” The song was written by Terri Sharp.
# 8 – The River Of Love
The River of Love was the title track from Don McLean’s 1995 album entitled The River of Love. This does not sound much like early 1970’s Don McLean but there’s just something abut this up tempo county rock tune we have always liked.
# 7 -Till Tomorrow
Continuing with our top 10 Don McLean songs list we turn to the legendary album American Pie. The song “Till Tomorrow,” was placed as the second track on the American Pie album. It served as a breather after the 8 minute plus title track. And what a sweet breather it was.
# 6 – Dreidel
Don McLean’s follow up album to his widely successful American Pie album was released in 1972 entitled Don McLean. The song “Dreidal,”was commercially successful peaking at the number 21 position on the US Billboard Hot 100. It reached the top 10 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts.
# 5 – Crying
Ten years after Don McLean had celebrated the success of his single American Pie as the number one record in the U.S. for an entire month, he found more top 10 success with his remake of Roy Orbison’s “Crying.” Released in 1981, Don McLean’s version of Roy Orbison’s Crying became the second biggest hit of his career. The song peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1981
# 4 – Castles In The Air
One of our favorite Don McLean songs of all time is the beautiful tune “Castles In The Air.” Its probably a sentimental song to Don McLean also because it was the singer’s first single release of his career. The song appeared on Don McLean’s first album Tapestry. The album and single were both released in 1970.
# 3 – Vincent
Who didn’t love this great Don McLean song entitled “Vincent.” This beautiful song was released on the American Pie album in 1972. It was released as the follow up single to “American Pie,” in 1972. The song hit number on on the U.K. music charts and was a top 20 hit in the United States. The songs title “Vincent,” was in reference to the world famous artist Vincent van Gogh.
# 2 – And I Love You So
As we close in our on our number one spot on our top 10 Don McLean songs list we turn to one of Don McLean’s most covered songs. The classic Don McLean song “And I Love You So,” was released in 1970 on Don McLean’s debut album entitled Tapestry. The song became a big hit three years later when legendary crooner Perry Como recorded it. Perhaps the ultimate cover of the song that any songwriter would treasure forever was when Elvis Presley recorded the song in 1975. If ever there was a singer that knew how to pick great songs, it was Elvis Presley. That’s why this one is number two on this Don McLean songs list
# 1 – American Pie
We close out our top 10 Don McLean songs list with the song “American Pie.” The song was originally released in November of 1971. We wonder if Don McLean had any sort of sense that the song would become a musical institution in classic rock and roll history. Its funny that at the time most people owned the song on a 45 rpm vinyl single in which you had to flip over the record half way through to listen to the second half of the song. That was how we listened to music back in the 1970s.
The single “American Pie.” was an instant success. It went straight to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts and stayed there for four straight weeks. It also hit number one in many other countries. For years Don Mclean avoided question about the songs meaning often citing it was open to interpretation in the same way other legendary songwriters such as Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen have replied to the same questions about their material. Nonetheless, when the songs originally handwritten lyrics went up for auction in 2015, Mclean promised he would reveal the meaning behind the lyrics after it was sold. Very clever and perhaps more indicative of the end of music sales for songwriters over the past ten years as opposed to really wanting to reveal the songs meaning.
The most interesting aspects of McLean’s reveal was that the “jester,” in the song was a reference to Bob Dylan and the lyrics about the King were in reference to Elvis Presley. We all already understood that the “day the music died,” lyric was a reference to the plane crash that took the lives of Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly, J. P. Richardson (also known as The Big Bopper) and the airplanes pilot Roger Peterson
The song was also described by McLean as simply being about the idea that America was heading in the wrong direction. Written during the Vietnam War and all sorts of chaos in the White House its pretty hard to argue with that opinion at the time. Perhaps its the perfect time for a sequel.