The American singer-songwriter Don McLean is likely best known for his hit song “American Pie,” but one of his most remarkable compositions has to be “Vincent,” which came from the same album, American Pie (1971).
Often misidentified by its opening refrain, “Starry, starry night…” “Vincent” is a beautiful, poignant homage to the Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh, his art, and tortured state of mental health. Recently a family member forwarded a video that compiled many of Van Gogh’s paintings as backdrops for a presentation of the song’s lyrics. I find the simulated active typing of the lyrics to be a distraction, but other videos had similar pitfalls in either sound quality or getting overly creative with animation.
Both my sweety and I have been in contemplative moods after listening to the music today.
While looking for a link to the video presentation, I also found a cover version by Lianne La Havas (who I featured only a few days ago with her song, “Weird Fishes”). Her version was used in the soundtrack for the 2017 animated experimental film Loving Vincent. While a unique and likeable interpretation, I prefer the tempo, sound and the mood evoked by McLean’s original studio recording.
For me, the song is also a reminder of the cruelty that pervades society, often directed at people because of their social standings, abilities, illnesses or other visible (or invisible but identifiable) qualities. In the case of mental health, the lack of proper supports or even basic acceptance set some people apart instead of helping and integrating them into a caring and civil society. As I said in Saturday’s post, we all belong, in the coat of many colours that is this world.
Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.
Here’s the audio for the song from Don McLean’s official YouTube channel:
Plus, a live version recorded in Austin, Texas, USA in 1999:
And the Lianne La Havas cover, from the Milan Records YouTube channel:
And, finally, the video compilation a relative shared with us.
If you would like to follow the lyrics but not the lyric video version, they are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.