The singer-songwriter whose iconic 1971 recording of “American Pie” is one of the most widely analyzed songs of all time is defending himself following his arrest earlier this week.
The AP reports that Don McLean was arrested Monday in Maine on a misdemeanor domestic-violence charge, with his wife alleging three decades of abuse and submitting a written request for protection from him.
“She wrote that in the early years of their marriage, McLean’s rage was ‘unfathomably deep and scary,'” the AP reports. “She says McLean’s abuse often left her bruised. She also says she feared for her life when she made the 911 call that led to McLean’s arrest.”
The report says McLean, who is due in court Feb. 22, released a statement today citing a “very painful breakdown” of his marriage and asserting that he is “not a villain.”
“American Pie” spent four weeks at No. 1 on the U.S. charts in 1972 and was listed as the No. 5 song on the RIAA Songs of the Century list. (Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow” is No. 1.)
McLean has said that the lyrics of “American Pie,” which references the deaths of Buddy Holly and others in a 1959 plane crash — “the day the music died” — are “beyond analysis.” But that hasn’t kept critics, musicians and scholars from analyzing the song, sometimes in excruciating detail. The long-ish song is generally considered to include references to Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and the death of Meredith Hunter at the Altamont Free Concert in 1969, among many other cultural references.
Here’s the song, with lyrics …