Don McLean, ‘Vincent’ and Being Held to Account By WIAA

ALYSON: Well, another week in lockdown here in Scotland…..

WIAA: Alyson, whoa, this is supposed to be a music blog yet you keep treating me like your personal diary, recording your thoughts, telling everyone what’s going on in your life. Where are the songs, the memories, the bits of trivia?

ALYSON: True, it has kind of gone that way of late, but good to get those thoughts down on your virtual pages. It’ll be interesting in the future to look back at this time and remind ourselves of what we went through.

WIAA: Maybe, but you’re no Anne Frank are you, so can we please just get back to the songs.

ALYSON: DD and I visited the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam the summer after she left school. We queued for a long, long time to get in, but well worth it. Many of us are feeling cooped up and isolated at the moment, but nothing compared to what those two families and the dentist went through.

WIAA: Any songs come to mind from that trip?

ALYSON: Hmm… not really. DD and I had very different musical tastes at that time so nothing really springs to mind.

WIAA: Any pictures?

ALYSON: Loads.

WIAA: Anything that might inspire a song?

ALYSON: Well, we also went to the Van Gogh museum and learnt a lot about the man and his art. A place bathed in golden light, what with all the yellow sunflowers bouncing off the walls. Here is a picture of a wax model of Vincent, holding his palette. He also appears to be still in possession of his left ear at this point, but I suppose a big, bloody bandage would have scared the kiddies. And, is it just me, but does he not look uncannily like a hipster of today?

IMG_0108 (2)

WIAA: Waiting…. . The song?

ALYSON: Isn’t it obvious? Vincent by Don McLean, and not the one who used to appear on Crackerjack.

WIAA: At last. Good choice. Let’s hear it.

Vincent by Don McLean:

ALYSON: I remember well listening to this song on my mum and dad’s old wireless (lots of wires actually) back in 1972. We already knew of Don McLean as American Pie had been a big hit the year before, but here he was coming along with something else from that album, a beautiful and soothing melody. I don’t think it probably registered with me at the time that the song was about Vincent Van Gogh the artist, as you only find out about these things as you become more worldly wise. Don had apparently been reading a biography of Van Gogh, and suddenly knew he had to write a song about the artist and his mental illness. He sat down with a print of Starry Night and wrote out the lyrics on a paper bag. Crikey, just how many great songs have started life on a napkin or paper bag?

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

WIAA: Thanks for that Alyson, another song to add to my archives. As a reward I’ll let you tell everyone about your week.

ALYSON: I now feel as if the moment has passed, and anyway I have to head off soon to visit my mum in her care home, the first visit in nearly four months so it will be very weird. I have to wear a mask, get my temperature checked and sit outside with her 2m apart, so certainly not back to normal, but how it has to be in the “new normal” I suppose.

We’re off to collect the rest of DD’s belongings tomorrow, which is bittersweet, as it was this week last year she headed off to begin her new life in the South of Scotland. Not quite back to square one however, as somehow she has managed to get herself a new job already, which is quite remarkable in the current climate (wish I had her ability to ace interviews).

It seems my holiday hideaway can now be opened up for single household guests and I have a family coming next week who want to visit, but not stay with, the grandparents who live nearby. Sadly it means DD has had to vacate for a while, but as long as I can handle the level of cleaning and sanitising now required, she is happy to do so. Only private lets this year so shouldn’t be too onerous.

Last not but least I had an exciting package arrive this morning, the latest instalment of Rol and Rob’s Department of the Peculiar comic book series. I have had a sneaky peek already but intend to leave full consumption until later in the day, when it can be properly savoured with no distractions. They really are very talented.


WIAA: Sounds as if you’re going to be busy this weekend Alyson so I’d better let you go. I think we’re back on track around here (no pun intended) but just remember, here is where we revisit the songs of your youth, so lets not get too side-tracked by all that’s going on in the world. People come here for a bit of a break from the real world and don’t want to hear your moans and groans. Are we cool with that?

ALYSON: Yes cool with that WIAA.

WIAA: Right then, time to sign off for today. What is it you usually say? Ah yes, until next time…

Vincent Lyrics
(Song by Don McLean)

Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and gray
Look out on a summer’s day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul

Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colors on the snowy linen land

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now

Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflect in Vincent’s eyes of china blue

Colors changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are soothed beneath the artist’s loving hand

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now

For they could not love you
But still your love was true
And when no hope was left in sight
On that starry, starry night

You took your life, as lovers often do
But I could’ve told you Vincent
This world was never meant for
One as beautiful as you

Starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frame-less heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can’t forget

Like the strangers that you’ve met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
The silver thorn of bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow

Now I think I know
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they’re not listening still
Perhaps they never will

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days. I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 57 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team, Bacharach and David. The opening line to that song was, "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

15 thoughts on “Don McLean, ‘Vincent’ and Being Held to Account By WIAA”

  1. Glad to hear some positive vibes coming from your part of the world. I hope you had a nice visit with your mum. I got to sit and talk to my 90 year old dad today for the first time in months. I’ve been able to talk to my mum on the phone but dad’s too deaf to hear over the phone so most of our communications have been waving through the window lately.

    Cloudy here, so no starry, starry night, but I always loved Vincent. Didn’t know it was written on a paper bag.

    Thanks for the plug. Hope the comic lives up to your expectations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The visit went quite well actually and it really didn’t feel as if it was 4 months since we’d seen each other. We were outside under a gazebo though and it was pretty cold and wet so she couldn’t quite understand why we didn’t go inside. Relatively successful I would have said and glad you’ve been able to see your parents too.

      The comic is great – Just got so much packed into it both in the writing and the artwork so you have to re-read it several times probably to make sure you’ve picked up on everything. A more edgy writing style to the one we’re used to on the blog and in your novel, so good to see just what a range you have. Now you just need to get the film rights – I can see it. Hope it’s ok to use the image? It was the one from your own blog but I’ll take it down if it breaches copyright or any other such rule.


        1. Sorry for my incredibly bland comment earlier – It’s great – I sound like Trump! Anyway, since then I’ve gone back and re-read DOTP Goes Pop #1 in conjunction with #2 and have to say you’ve both done an incredible job – Just so funny what with the play on words/names and detail in the artwork. You could read them 20 times probably and still spot something new. Forgot to mention that the CD booklet was a masterstroke too. I admit that I didn’t recognise all of them but by a process of elimination got them all in the end (didn’t know what Captain Beefheart looked like at all). Glad to see George Michael got included too although he did have a bit of a starring role in the actual comic.


  2. I hope all went well seeing your mum, Alyson. What a strange procedure to have to go through but at least you can visit again now. I was reading the other day about these plastic curtain things that allow people to hug each other safely in these situations – have you seen them? Hard to imagine them becoming the norm but what an idea.
    Also hope all goes well with the holiday let booking next week (and the cleaning afterwards!). Similarly the cottage next door to us has its first weekend guests since the lockdown at the moment and the owners are making tentative steps back to business. But you wouldn’t even know there’s anyone staying there right now – not a peep! I suspect they’ve just come to hole up for a couple of days away from the madness…
    I never knew that about the lyrics on the paper bag either. I wonder if anyone kept it?! Agreed about Vincent in the museum too (nice jacket).
    Don’t let WIAA hold you to ransom! We enjoy you both!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes the visit went quite well considering and she remembered me which was the big one. After all these months and wearing a mask I thought it might be a problem. Like me, she needs to see a hairdresser soon but it will probably still be some time before they’re allowed back in.

      All ready for the guests next week but a bit of a hassle having to kick DD out – Her dad is on his way down just now to pick up the rest of her things so I suspect our now semi-cleared loft will be full again. The great shame is that her life would no doubt have carried on as it was if not for the pandemic, but like many other young people she has lost so much because of it.

      As for WIAA, it seems he (is it a he?) just got fed up with me. Back in control!


    1. Yes it’s gone on for so long now we’ve almost forgotten what our old lives were like. No easy way back to those days either. I hope all is not too bad where you are Rick. The news reports about some states are grim.

      Liked by 1 person

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