AS AMERICAN AS APPLE PIE

August 11, 2009 – 4:06 am

Folk music looked promising when Don McLean took his 8-minute plus single to the top of the pop charts.

Click on the panels for a better view or to download artwork.

DON McLEAN
At The Bottom Line 1974 [no label 1CD]

Live at the Bottom Line, New York, April 20, 1974. Excellent FM mono.

During his popular years in the early ’70s, not many in fandom knew Don McLean was influenced by Pete Seeger and The Weavers. In fact, Pete Seeger did perform a trad version of American Pie before McLean even recorded the song. McLean has recognised Seeger as his friend and mentor. There the similarities end.

McLean’s brand of folk music never went too far away from the personal confessions of the singer-songwriter style of the ’70s. If you listen to Seeger’s attempt at American Pie, you can see how two different generations view folk music. For McLean, the music was personal and purposely introspective, meant to “save life”, his own.

During his apprenticeship years, McLean learnt the ropes at the usual folk avenues, performing at the Bitter End and the Gaslight Cafe in New York, the Newport Folk Festival, the Cellar Door in Washington, D.C., and the Troubadour in Los Angeles. But when American Pie made number 1 and Vincent followed, stardom beckoned.

This performance at the Bottom Line was in support of Homeless Brother, perhaps his one and only attempt at getting back to his folk roots. The show has a couple of folk tunes like Bronco Bill’s Lament (about the working man), Muleskinner Blues and The Legend Of Andrew McCrew. The show ends with an encore of Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land. When sales faltered, McLean learnt the hard way of record company politics. He was dropped. He has since spiced every album with melodic radio-friendly songs and potential singles.

If McLean was at all politically or socially motivated, he never repeated his boat trip down the Hudson River back in 1969 with Pete Seeger. Then they were on the river to protest environmental pollution. He has since taken a low profile for such activities. Music activism has never repeated the heights it reached in the ’60s.

This is a copy of the FM master reel of the show taped by music fan and collector, Jerry Moore. Shared first by Rob Berger who also mastered this show. Thanks to these fine archivists; and to jpcii for sharing the tracks on the Dime site and to Ziggypt for the artwork.
- The Little Chicken

Note: Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (these are high quality MP3s - sample rate of 192 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

These tracks are no longer available for download. Kindly email us at [email protected] if you want to download them at a later date.

1. Bronco Bill’s Lament
2. La La I Love You*
3. Winter Has Me In Its Grip*
4. Where Were You Baby?
5. And I Love You So
6. On The Amazon
7. American Pie
8. Everyday
9. Sally Ann/ Muleskinner Blues
10. Babylon
11. David, David
12. You Have Lived*
13. Dreidel
14. The Legend Of Andrew McCrew*
15. Vincent
16. This Land Is Your Land (encore)

* These songs appeared on 1974’s Homeless Brother.

Don McLean is best remembered for American Pie. The song appeared on what’s arguably his best album also called American Pie. But this concert from 1974 was to promote his then new album, Homeless Brother, probably his only folk album. Click on the link to order the album.

  1. 2 Responses to “AS AMERICAN AS APPLE PIE”

  2. I guess I’ll go first. This is a wonderful boot - McClean at his social activist best. This comment was particularly telling, especially the last sentence:

    “McLean was at all politically or socially motivated, he never repeated his boat trip down the Hudson River back in 1969 with Pete Seeger. Then they were on the river to protest environmental pollution. He has since taken a low profile for such activities. Music activism has never repeated the heights it reached in the ’60s.”

    The reason REAL musical activism has practically disappeared from the mainstream is that the corporate pirates that stole my country (I’m an American) also stole the music industry and have made damn sure that the only mass-produced music played on our radios is devoid of anything critical of the capitalist power structure.

    By Sluggo714 on Sep 2, 2009

  3. Absolutely awesome! Many thanks for posting this rare recording for others to enjoy.

    By IMEN on Oct 3, 2011

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