Vincent (Starry Starry Night) – Don McLean (1971)

Vincent is a song written by the American singer-songwriter Don McLean and released in 1971. It can be found on his album “American Pie” which is one of the earliest CDs I purchased and a true “classic” album.

This is a beautiful song telling the story of the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. The open words “Starry, Starry Night” refer to the painting shown here. (Click to view a larger size).

Don McLean accompanies himself with acoustic guitar, singing about the artist’s work and life, lack of recognition and eventual madness and suicide. All very sad isn’t it?  But it was this song that got me interested in the Van Gogh’s art. I visited the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in 1980 and this was one of the highlights of my European holiday.

Sit back, watch and listen to Don McLean.  I have provided the lyrics below the video.


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 your 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.

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 you sanity How you tried to set them free
They would not listen they’re not listening still
Perhaps they never will.


Author: charuzu

I live in Sydney and interests include music, piano playing, technology, cooking, English language, public speaking, Toastmasters, Asian culture (especially Japan and Korea), cinema, personal development, productivity and making friends with people from around the world.

2 thoughts on “Vincent (Starry Starry Night) – Don McLean (1971)”

  1. the painting was used as a background in the movie ‘midnight in paris’ again~ heard this song lots of times, quite like the singing and guitar.

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