Wednesday, March 07, 2007


w/m Don McLean Don McLean BGO 1971
Starry, starry night

Five notes: five syllables. Who cannot name this extraordinary song from these few clues. And so powerful is the association with the Van Gogh painting that the song is more often known by that pseudo title.

The song, of course, is about Vincent Van Gogh -- but "about" is too weak a word. The writer has come to understand Van Gogh, to grok his art and his life, and explains in the refrain:

And now I understand what you tried to say to me how you suffered for your sanity how you tried to set them free. They would not listen they did not know how perhaps they'll listen now.

He goes on:

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;

This is poetry: language distilled to its essence. Omit one word and there is diminishment.


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