Don Mclean is most well known for his track “American Pie;” a track that is so gargantuan in success that it dwarfs the rest of his career, leading many people to know him as a one hit wonder. That’s a real shame because I think its success has subverted the acclaim he should have as one of the best lyricists to have ever lived.
His ability to tell detailed stories in his songs, and colour these with beautiful symbolic poetry, happens countless times throughout his historic catalog. His stories are vast in scope, and manage to portray emotion in such an open way that you can easily be swept into the piece, living it more than listening to it.
Although many of his tracks should be on my TOTW list, I will start with my personal favourite. I can’t quite say why I love this track so much but “Castles In The Air” has always stuck with me since hearing it when I was a child. The gentle, meandering lyrics and music give the track a dreamlike quality. Together they manage to be both a metaphor and a mood for the subject. A dreamer, restless with his world and moving into a new one, whilst holding regrets for the past. It’s done with a maturity that surpasses his age at the time of writing. An early piece from his first album that demonstrated a potential he went on to prove in his continuing career.