‘American Pie’ singer Don McLean releases ‘Ballad of George Floyd,’ claims artists are ‘afraid’ to take a side

Singer-songwriter Don McLean has written a ballad about George Floyd but claims it isn’t political.

The 78-year-old folk singer famous for his 1971 classic “American Pie” said in a wide-ranging interview that artists today are afraid to get political but insisted that the current climate is not anything like the turbulent 1960s.

In those days, “you knew where people stood,” he told The Hill.

“There was a reasonable discourse between parties — even though we had [Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Nixon] and those people that really did polarize us — they still were talking. They still had some civility and some rules,” McLean added.“Now it’s just like a big food fight.”

“If an event like George Floyd had occurred, five guys that I know would have written songs about it. But they’re afraid to — nobody wants to take a side or a stand on anything,” he said.

McLean just released “The Ballad of George Floyd” in time for the fourth anniversary of Floyd’s death in Minneapolis while he was being arrested.

(Video Credit: Don McLean)

“George Floyd wasn’t a menace/ And George Floyd wasn’t a threat/ George Floyd called for his mother/ That’s something I’ll never forget,” sings McLean in the new song. “George Floyd deserved some respect/ But he got a knee on his neck.”

The singer explained that the song’s lyrics just “came right out” of him after he watched the video of Floyd’s arrest and pleas that he couldn’t breathe.

“That guy’s not dangerous,” McLean said. “This man can’t breathe. He’s on the ground, is calling for his mom. This is sad. I have a heart; I have empathy for people.”

The ballad, part of his new album “American Boys,” is not meant to be a political message, McLean contends.

“We’re all Americans. We just need to get rid of bad criminals in the police department. We don’t need to defund the police,” he said. “We need the Army. God knows we need the police. But we don’t need bad actors.”

McLean, who attended a state dinner for Kenyan President William Ruto at the White House last week, also weighed in on the presidential race and said President Joe Biden has “got a lot of weight on his shoulders. I couldn’t imagine doing that job.”

“I don’t know what to think. I don’t know what I’m gonna do,” he said about voting this fall.

“I think that we got to keep Mr. Trump out of the White House,” he contended. “I just think this man is not qualified to be president, and that’s an understatement.”

“I often put myself in Trump’s shoes, and he must say to himself, ‘Why did I ever do this? I had New York in the palm of my hand. I had my name on every building. People were afraid of me. People worshipped me. I owned everything,’” McLean mused.

“‘And I decided to take that one step and get that trophy property called the United States,’” he continued. “‘And look what happened to me.’”

“I just can’t imagine that he doesn’t ask himself that,” the singer stated.

Frieda Powers


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