Vincent (Don McLean song)
Cover art of UK vinyl release, also used for the US, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and New Zealand releases
|Single by Don McLean|
|from the album American Pie|
|B-side||"Castles in the Air"|
|Label||United Artists Records, BGO Records|
|Don McLean singles chronology|
|on YouTube, by Don McLean. (3:58 minutes, with lyrics)|
|on YouTube, by Don McLean. Live performance (1972). (3:57 minutes)|
"Vincent" is a song by Don McLean written as a tribute to Vincent van Gogh. It is often erroneously titled after its opening refrain, "Starry Starry Night", a reference to Van Gogh's 1889 painting The Starry Night.
McLean wrote the lyrics in 1971 after reading a book about the life of Van Gogh. It was released on McLean's 1971 American Pie album; the following year, the song topped the UK Singles Chart for two weeks, and peaked at No. 12 in the United States, where it also hit No. 2 on the Easy Listening chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 94 song for 1972.
The song makes use mainly of the guitar but also includes the accordion, marimba, and strings.
In July 2020, the original handwritten lyrics went up for sale for $1.5 million.
McLean said the following about the genesis of the song:
"In the autumn of 1970 I had a job singing in the school system, playing my guitar in classrooms. I was sitting on the veranda one morning, reading a biography of Van Gogh, and suddenly I knew I had to write a song arguing that he wasn't crazy. He had an illness and so did his brother Theo. This makes it different, in my mind, to the garden variety of 'crazy' – because he was rejected by a woman [as was commonly thought]. So I sat down with a print of Starry Night and wrote the lyrics out on a paper bag."
The Telegraph wrote: "With its bittersweet palette of major and minor chords, "Vincent"'s soothing melody is one of high emotion recollected in tranquillity". AllMusic retrospectively described the song as "McLean's paean to Van Gogh ... sympathiz[ing] with Van Gogh's suicide as a sane comment on an insane world." The site also said McLean performs "a particularly poignant rendition" of "Vincent" on the 2001 live album Starry, Starry Night.
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Silver||200,000|
Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.
NOFX released a cover of "Vincent" on their 2002 album 45 or 46 Songs That Weren't Good Enough to Go on Our Other Records.
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- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-16. Retrieved 2015-01-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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- "British single certifications – Don McLean – Vincent". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved January 17, 2019. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Vincent in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.