Sunday, September 13, 2015
Legendary Songwriter Don McLean, Calgary
My takeaway from seeing this iconic singer songwriter last night has to be how he has chosen to live the life he wants to live, which may have cost him somewhat in his career.
That seems like small potatoes, given that he remarked he's been touring now for 47 years, and has made a bunch of money from artists covering his songs - I'm sure he's done pretty well with his own interpretations of those tracks as well :-)
Which is all to say that it made his show even more remarkable that I had anticipated, and even more special given that he does not confine himself to a pre-determined set list, rather just sharing his own songs and those that have inspired him along the way.
Last night we were treated to songs by other iconic singer songwriters going back as far as Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison, to Elvis and Marty Robbins and more. His take on the classic story song El Paso was every bit as engaging as the original, almost going so far as to make it his own.
That said, he shared his pride and preference for Elvis' cover of his own gorgeous And I Love You So, which sounded just fine in his own rich voice, which was up to full par for the two hours he stuck around, including a lengthy three song encore.
Along the way, there were many familiar songs (his hit cover of Orbison's Crying), and lesser known album cuts like Crossroads and King Of Fools - which I will have to track down now...
Of course, he is blessed or cursed with American Pie, which despite my having seen easily hundreds of amateurs and lounge acts play repeatedly over the years was nothing short of ASTOUNDING when he launched into an extended version that was heavy on sing-a-long participation. The whole night was filled with that, by request of the man himself - he often sat alone with his guitar or accompanied by piano to make the showroom an intimate space.
Vincent (Starry Starry night) during his encore brought about as enthusiastic reaction as did American Pie. Not all his output has equaled some of those monster successes, but there was not a single moment last night that felt like padding or a misfire.
That's exactly why he will continue to fill rooms wherever he chooses to play, and we're fortunate that last night was here in our town...