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Don McLean Clarifies “American Pie” Origins

November 28, 2011

The booth at the Tin & Lint bar in Saratoga Srings was the alleged birthplace of McLean's classic for over 40 years. Now the legend, much like the music before it, has died.

One of America’s greatest folk songs endured a historical shake-up this week, as 66-year-old songwriter Don McLean refuted the longstanding story of the origin of his classic song “American Pie.”

The news originally broke via the Poll-Star of Glens Falls, New York this weekend. In it, McLean rejects the legend of him writing the lyrics to the infamous tune on a cocktail napkin at the Tin and Lint in Saratoga Springs during the Summer of 1970. A gold plaque adorns the booth in the local bar, signifying McLean’s original inscription of the folk song.

The song, which would go on to be a No. 1 hit shortly after its release in November of 1971, was written in Philadelphia and performed for the first time at a performance at Temple University.

Various stories sprang from local residents over the years, including bar employees who claimed to have seen and cared for the alleged napkins containing the lyrics.

“Was the song written in Saratoga Springs? The answer is no. The song was written in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,” McLean said in the report.

It’s been forty years of tales and testimonies, but McLean’s mythical song about the day the music died has in some ways, served as merely a premonition of the day its own legend would die.

Hell. Still an American classic though.

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