I was somewhere in my very early teens when I first heard this song.  I remember certain phrases piercing through to my soul awakening a part of me that I didn’t understand.  I only knew those words felt like me, but different.  They weren’t me from the outside.  They sat inside of me as if it was their home.  I didn’t understand anything about this song back then.  I just knew those words were me.  They must be.  They’re still at home in me.

 

Vincent – Don McLean

Starry, starry night, paint your palette blue and grey
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
How you suffered for you sanity
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

Chorus:
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 have told you, Vincent,
This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you

Starry, starry night, portraits hung in empty halls
Frameless heads on nameless walls with eyes that watch the world and can’t forget.
Like the stranger that you’ve met, the ragged man 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
How you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free
They would not listen they’re not listening still
Perhaps they never will.

 

McLean wrote “Vincent,” also known as “Starry, Starry Night,” in the fall of 1970, while he was working for the Berkshire School District. He was living in the Sedgwick House, a beautiful Federal style house in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The Sedgwick family included Edie Sedgwick, a colorful figure whom Andy Warhol had filmed in the 1960s. McLean wrote “Vincent” in his apartment full of antiques. The inspiration came to him one morning while he was sitting on the veranda looking at a book about Vincent Van Gogh. As he studied a print of Van Gogh’s painting “Starry Night,” he realized that a song could be written about the artist through the painting.

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