Don McLean, a former New Rochelle resident, wrote American Pie, one of the most memorable songs of all-time. Not only did he grow up in New Rochelle but American Pie is set within the context of own life experiences growing up, working and going to school in New Rochelle. American Pie's lyrics are arguably the most discussed, debated and decoded lyrics of any pop song ever written.
The opening lines of the song are about working as a newspaper boy for New Rochelle's Standard-Star. The Standard-Star building still stands today. The gym where he watched a girl kick off her shoes was at a high school dance in New Rochelle. The levee that was dry where he famously drove his Chevy, was, and still is, a bar in New Rochelle across from Iona College where Iona Prep was located at the time although the building has since been torn down.
How much imagination would it take to devise an "American Pie" experience for visitors to New Rochelle? Why is there not even a plaque to honor McLean for not just the song American Pie but a forty-year catalog of exceptional songwriting and singing?
Much of the same argument could be made about Norman Rockwell who lived in New Rochelle and included New Rochelle places and people in his illustration but even Rockwell was not raised in New Rochelle.
New Rochelle has done its best to lay claim to the legacy of Thomas Paine but Paine really had little to do with New Rochelle. He came to America from England to Philadelphia in 1774 at the age of 37. He travelled with Washington's Army and worked for the American government in Philadelphia, France and the Netherlands, eventually ending up back in England, returning to America in 1803 then dying in 1809. During the last 6 years of his life, Paine was given the property in New Rochelle but he maintained a residence in New Jersey eventually dying and being buried in New York City.
Unlike Rockwell or Paine or many others the City seeks to associate with New Rochelle, McLean is from here and wrote one of the greatest songs of all time based on growing up here. I am sure some readers have photographs and memories from that time to share. If you have pictures or can help add some insight into the song lyrics please share them here.
What do you think? Should the City of New Rochelle do more to honor Don McLean?