Don McLean talks about Botanical Gardens and his upcoming tour
by Northern Life
This is your first album in 8 years – What can people expect with the new music?
The new album is a personal memoir of an older man looking back on life and love and romance. How surprising the time flight is and how splendid it all is.
You last toured the UK in 2015 – What do you love about touring the UK and what can audiences expect this time round?
I have toured the UK since 1972, it is like a second home to me. So many personal and career experiences have accumulated that I can’t begin to list them. I have probably done 22 tours of the UK with always new towns to see. The history and tradition always interest me. I have had more record successes in UK than anywhere else, and the fans have been loyal these 46 years.
How do you choose your setlist?
I do not use a set list. I have never done the same show on any night since 1968 when I began my full time professional career. I know at least 10,000 songs and can perform any of them with a quick brush up. I have recorded hundreds of songs and have written hundreds as well.
With the latest high profile covers of ‘Vincent’ from Ed Sheeran, James Blake and Ellie Goulding, how does it feel to have so many contemporary artists cover your work?
The high profile recordings of my songs of late have made me proud that I took chances with my songwriting and created songs which were personal and not obviously commercial. We all need to inspire each other and I don’t mean just artists. All of us should shoot for the best we can do.
You said in a tweet to Ellie Goulding that hearing her cover helped you ‘carry on’. What else inspires you to keep creating music?
As we grow older there is an effort on the part of the world to tell us we should quit, move over, get lost, you’re old news. In the beginning validation comes from older artists, near the end it comes from younger ones
With close to 20 albums, how has writing and recording changed for you over the years? Was there anything unique about recording Botanical Gardens?
Botanical Gardens was recorded in two ways. Tracks were made of several songs according to ideas I put forth then, we went into the studio and recorded more songs together as a group with additional instrumentation added to everything and vocals done.
With over 4000 concerts performed, is there anywhere you would love to perform that you haven’t already? Or anywhere you would love to go back in time to play again?
I would go back to almost any town or city I’ve played but I have not sung in Italy and would like to.
Are there any tracks, especially from the new album, that you particularly look forward to playing live?
The songs from Botanical Gardens I look forward to singing are really all the songs on the album. I do enjoy ‘Waving Man’, ‘When July Comes’, ‘Ain’t She A Honey’, ‘Botanical Gardens’, ‘The Lucky Guy’ and ‘Total Eclipse of The Sun’.
What ambitions or goal do you have for the future?
As for the future I intend to double down on my funseeking and try to be good to people.
Are you ever tempted to wear any jeans other than Levi’s?
No plans to give up Levi’s.