PBS American Troubadour Series to Feature New Rochelle’s Own Don McLean in March

Written By: Robert Cox

Watch Don McLean: American Troubadour | Childhood Memories on PBS. See more from pbs.

As soon as we get them, we will update here with the exact air dates in the New York market. Elsewhere around the country it appears set to air between March 7 and March 14. This program is tied to the various Membership Campaigns so you can expect a fair amount of promotion on PBS stations starting about now.


“Don Mclean: American Troubadour” is a behind-the-scenes look at one of America’s greatest singer-songwriters. This special summarizes Don Mclean’s forty-year plus career and features live performances of his best-known hits including “American Pie,” “Vincent,” “Crying” and “I Love You So.”

The program is produced and directed by four-time Emmy award winning Jim Brown whose work includes: “Pete Seeger: The Power of Song,” “The Weavers: Wasn’t That A Time,” and “A Vision Shared: Tribute to Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly.

Looks like PBS beat New Rochelle to the punch! We have been asking for a while now: Why Doesn’t New Rochelle Honor Don McLean?

Don McLean, a former New Rochelle resident, wrote American Pie, one of the most memorable songs of all-time. Not only did he grow up in New Rochelle but American Pie is set within the context of own life experiences growing up, working and going to school in New Rochelle. American Pie’s lyrics are arguably the most discussed, debated and decoded lyrics of any pop song ever written.

Don McLean read our article (and the comments) and wrote back…

Dear Robert,

My network of internet spies alerted me to comments recently made about me and my song as well as memories of New Rochelle. Just to set the record straight, I did deliver the Standard Star. Furthermore as I look back on it growing up in Larchmont Woods was a wonderful experience. I had to travel around the world in order to figure that out.

Mclean told ABC News how life in New Rochelle impacted his music:

He explained, “Everything I have done, whether it was [‘American Pie’] or ‘And I Love You So’ or ‘Vincent’ or ‘Castles in the Air’ or ‘Winterwood’ or my version of [Roy Orbison’s] ‘Crying’ or ‘Dreidel,’ all of these things were songs that came from my approach to writing music, which is basically fantasy based.”

He also noted that his suburban upbringing in New Rochelle, New York, also influenced his unique approach to coming up with tunes.

“I do not have any legitimate roots,” he maintained. “So unlike the kid who was born out west or born in the Midwest, like [Bob] Dylan was, or born down south, like James Taylor, my roots are basically television, radio and records. So I don’t have any prejudices one way or the other toward music.”

McLean said in composing his songs, he inevitably mixed the three styles of music he enjoyed most while growing up.

“[I] basically combined old-fashioned popular music, the kind that Frank Sinatra sings or Tony Bennett…with ’50s rock ‘n’ roll that I heard — doo wop, Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly — and folk music,” he explained.


Program: PBS Specials
Episode: Don McLean: American Troubadour | Childhood Memories
Get a behind-the-scenes look at one of America’s great singer-songwriters, Don McLean. Learn about his childhood and the inspiration for his career and see performances of some of his greatest hits.

On his web site, Don McLean announces that there will be an album tied to the documentary.

The companion double CD includes songs originally released between 1970 and 2010. A stand-out song is the debut release of a version of “Everyday” recorded live in concert in Ireland in 1984.

1. Everyday
2. Castles In The Air
3. American Pie
4. Winterwood
5. And I Love You So
6. Addicted To Black
7. Crying
8. Empty Chairs
9. Since I Don’t Have You
10. I Tune The World Out
11. Homeless Brother
12. Wonderful Baby
13. Have You Seen Me
14. I Was Always Young
15. Lovers Love The Spring

Disc Two:

1. Words And Music
2. Left For Dead
3. If I Hadn’t Met You
4. If We Try
5. Crossroads
6. Vincent
7. Headroom
8. Primetime
9. 1967
10. Jerusalem
11. Superman’s Ghost
12. Infinity
13. Magdalene Lane
14. Seaman
15. The Statue

In addition to the CD there is a limited edition coffee table book.

In conjunction with the flick, Time Life is releasing a two-CD, 30-track compilation also titled American Troubadour. In addition, a companion coffeetable book is being put together by Russ Cochran and Mike Cochran. Speaking recently with ABC News Radio, McLean said only 1,500 copies of the book will be available. He added that fans interested in buying the tome can contact Russ directly at russcochran333@gmail.com.

Another trailer for the documentary:

Watch Don McLean: American Troubadour | “Fashion Victim” on PBS. See more from pbs.

2 thoughts on “PBS American Troubadour Series to Feature New Rochelle’s Own Don McLean in March”

  1. Free Don McLean Concert, April 28th
    At Mohegan Sun’s Wolf Den, Saturday, April 28th at 8:00pm, there will be a free Don McLean Concert.

    The catch is, its a two hour drive, up I-95, but well worth it.

    I’ve seen many enjoyable concerts at this free venue, and when set up right, the sound is great, and one is always near the stage, although some views are off from the side.

    For someone like Don McLean, you will need at least one of your party to get on the line at by 6:30 to be sure of getting into the 8:00 show.

    Even if you do not get in, you can see and hear the concert from outside of the wall-less Wolf Den theater.

    A good time will be had by all !!

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