Vincent (Starry Starry Night): Folky McLean song inspires black nerd

Don McLean Performing Vincent (Starry Starry Night)

Vincent (Starry Starry Night) by Don McLean

Starry starry night, paint your palette blue and grey
Look out on a summer’s day with eyes that know the darkness in my soul
Shadows on the hills, sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills, in colors on the snowy linen land

Now I understand what you tried to say to me
How you suffered for you sanity How you tried to set them free
They would not listen they did not know how, perhaps they’ll listen now

Starry starry night, flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze reflect in Vincent’s eyes of china blue
Colors changing hue, morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain are soothed beneath the artist’s loving hand

For they could not love you, but still your love was true
And when no hope was left in sight, on that starry starry night

You took your life as lovers often do,
But I could have told you, Vincent,
This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you

Starry, starry night, portraits hung in empty halls
Frameless heads on nameless walls with eyes that watch the world and can’t forget.
Like the stranger that you’ve met, the ragged man in ragged clothes
The silver thorn of bloody rose, lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow

Now I think I know what you tried to say to me
How you suffered for you sanity How you tried to set them free

They would not listen they’re not listening still
Perhaps they never will.

I thought this was poem when I first read it. It’s so beautiful. Don McLean’s most famous for the album American Pie and the song of the same name. American Pie, the song, was inspired “partly by the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J. P. Richardson.” Vincent (Starry Starry Night) is inspired by Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh‘s most celebrated work, A Starry Night.

The Starry Night

A Starry Night

McLean told The Daily Telegraph why he wrote 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.”

I like to listen to this song when I’m trying to search “my writer self” for words.

Additional Reading:

  1. American PieFolk Music CDs)
  2. The Don McLean Story: Killing Us Softly With His SongsBiographies & Memoirs)
  3. Vincent Van Gogh: A Self-Portrait in Art and LettersPost-Impressionism Arts & Photography Books)
  4. Van Gogh and the Colors of the NightPost-Impressionism Arts & Photography Books)
  5. Dear Theo: The Autobiography of Vincent Van GoghBiographies & Memoirs of Artists, Architects & Photographers)
  6. Starry Night, c. 1889 Poster Print by Vincent van Gogh, 36×24Prints & Posters)


Filed under Art, The Written Word

2 responses to “Vincent (Starry Starry Night): Folky McLean song inspires black nerd

  1. Hi Victor – the song is called Starry Starry Night and it was written by Don McLean.

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