fb-pixel Skip to main content

The VIP Lounge with Don McLean

Don McLean in Palm Desert, Calif.
Don McLean in Palm Desert, Calif.

Don McLean, whose iconic song “American Pie” topped the Billboard charts in the early 1970s and is still known and loved by people around the world, said that in all his travels, he has yet to see the Egyptian pyramids — something he hopes to do one day. McLean, 73, will be performing at City Winery in Boston on April 26. “I love Boston,” he said in a recent phone interview. “It was a real breakout place for folk musicians in the 1960s . . . and I’ve always liked playing there. I’m looking forward to it.” McLean said that fans can expect to hear “American Pie,” which he said is, in part, about the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper in a plane crash on Feb. 3, 1959. “That’s how it starts, but each verse is another event and moves across time . . . I wanted to write a big song about America — but not “America the Beautiful” and not “This Land Is Your Land.” I wanted to find a whole new way of talking about the United States, and that’s what I did.” McLean, who was born and raised in New Rochelle, N.Y., before moving to nearby Larchmont when he was a teenager, lives with his girlfriend, Paris Dunn, in Palm Desert, Calif., and in Camden, Maine. He has two adult children, Wyatt and Jackie Lee, and two grandchildren, Rosa and Mya. He also has three horses — Jax, Tex, and Buddy — at his farm in Maine. We caught up with McLean to talk about all things travel.

Favorite vacation destination? The Coachella Valley in California, where I live sometimes. I am on the road so much, that I enjoy being there in the 80-degree weather . . . I am pursuing the endless summer. That is my goal.


Favorite food or drink while vacationing? My favorite food is good Italian food, and my favorite drink is Ketel One dry vodka straight up.

Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? I would like to travel to Egypt to see the pyramids. I had a chance when I was over in Israel in the ’80s when you could go over to Egypt pretty easily and I didn’t take the chance. I am still kicking myself. I would also like to see the wild horses run . . . probably in Nevada somewhere.


One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? Besides my cellphone? My cowboy boots.

Aisle or window? Aisle seat always. Got to make a getaway.

Favorite childhood travel memory? Taking a ride around the block in my father’s new 1950 blue Ford when I was 5. I remember the green radium gauges. We didn’t travel; my dad was never on a plane and never left the Tri-State area.

Guilty pleasure when traveling? A bag of Cheetos.

Best travel tip? Always take two flights or fewer. Drive the last leg if necessary. Taking off and landing are the two most dangerous times on a flight, so you want to reduce that number by two-thirds of what it would be if you took that third flight. It’s just an odds thing.