Every UK Number One Song: Vincent

Don McLean Vincent

What was the number one song in the UK on 17th June 1972?

“Vincent” by Don McLean was Number One on 17th June 1972 and stayed there for two weeks.

Growing up in the 1980s like I did, it was easy to assume that Don McLean was a one-hit wonder. By that time, his song American Pie was firmly planted in music history — considered by some to be one of the greatest of all time — and it still frequently boomed larger than life out of stereos and car radios. But while McLean’s epic about the day the music died may get all of the attention, the song Vincent was a stunning success lyrically, musically, and on charts worldwide.

I once read that the song Killing Me Softly (made famous by Roberta Flack and later the Fugees) was written about Don McLean after singer-songwriter Lori Lieberman saw him in concert. Watch this video of McLean performing Vincent, and you just may feel like he’s strumming your pain with his fingers, singing your life with his words:

Check out Wikipedia for more about Vincent’s chart success and how Vincent van Gogh inspired McLean to pen this tribute to him.

Wikipedia

“Vincent” is a song by Don McLean written as a tribute to Vincent van Gogh. It is also known by its opening line, “Starry Starry Night”, a reference to Van Gogh’s painting The Starry Night. The song also describes different paintings done by the artist. It was created on the 100th anniversary of the midpoint of Van Gogh’s life.

McLean wrote the lyrics in 1971 after reading a book about the life of the artist. The following year, the song became the number one hit in the UK Singles Chart and No. 12 in the US. Coincidentally, it spent 12 weeks on the HOT 100. In the US, “Vincent” also peaked at number two on the Easy Listening chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 94 song for 1972.

The song makes use of the accordion, vibraphone, strings, and guitar.

In 2000, PBS aired Don McLean: Starry, Starry Night, a concert special that was filmed in Austin, Texas.

Lyrics

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

Spotify

The Talk About Pop Music Every UK Number One is now on Spotify. Relive, enjoy and share every song featured up until the latest post!

 

Acoustic Cover

Here at Talk About Pop Music we love an acoustic cover and Danny McEvoy does them the best!

Thanks to the newest member of the team – Janet – for this article – watch this space to find out more about Janet and hear all about her love of the 80s!

Do you remember these songs? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @PopAndTalk

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