My #8 album of 1971 is Don McLean’s American Pie, the singer-songwriter’s sophomore effort, which hit #1 on the Billboard 200 and featured two hits in the iconic title track and ‘Vincent,’ McLean’s ode to Vincent Van Gogh.
This album could earn a spot on this list for those two songs alone, but the rest of its lineup features one achingly gentle acoustic gem after another.
Don McLean is a special sort of one-hit wonder. For one thing, he had two hits. ‘Vincent (Starry Starry Night),’ his ode to Van Gogh, was in fact his biggest international success.
Stateside, of course, he is best known for ‘American Pie,’ a song that is not so much a hit as an iconic part of the culture. Chronicling the deaths of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper in a plane crash, the song is packed with coded imagery that serves as a tour of the 60s’ musical landscape.