Watch Don McLean Perform ‘Vincent’ Back In 1972
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In a 1972 appearance on Beat Club, Don McLean performed his classic single Vincent.
He wrote this as a tribute to the post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh after reading a book about the latter’s life. It was in the autumn of 1970 when McLean suddenly “knew I had to write a song arguing that he wasn’t crazy.” He recalled to The Daily Telegraph in 2010 that “He [van Gogh] had an illness and so did his brother Theo” which “makes it different, in my mind, to the garden variety of ‘crazy'”.
He added, “So I sat down with a print of Starry Night and wrote the lyrics out on a paper bag.” At the time, McLean was going through a rough time because he “was in a bad marriage that was torturing me” but he clarified that he “wasn’t as badly off as Vincent was, but I wasn’t thrilled, let’s put it that way.”
The opening line to the track references one of Vincent van Gogh’s most famous paintings – A Starry Night.
In July 2020, his handwritten lyrics for Vincent was up for auction with an asking price of $1.5 million. The words are written in pencil and it contained some corrections.