Thursday, June 4, 2015

Don McLean: Vincent (1971)

Don McLean sings “Vincent,” a song written and sung in tribute to Vincent van Gogh, the Dutch Post-Impressionist painter. This song, found on the album. American Pie, was released in June 1971.

I have heard this song countless number of times since it was first aired on the radio during my childhood; it engenders the same reaction. It is widely known by its opening line, “Starry Starry Night,” which refers to the Van Gogh’s painting, Starry Night (1889), which now hangs in the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), in New York City.

I have no artistic talent, and yet I like and enjoy the work of artists who do possess it. Van Gogh certainly qualifies; I have a print of one of his paintings, Van Gogh’s Chair (1888) on my living room wall. This song does justice, in a poetic way, to both the art and the artist. His life is filled with tragedy, and it ended in tragedy, too. But what he accomplished in the short period (1880-1890) that he painted is wonderful.