Take Five: Five questions with Don McLean

Don McLean: Writer of perhaps the most iconic pop song ever (1971's "American Pie," in case you're wondering), Don McLean will be playing the Mahaiwe Theater in Great Barrington on Saturday night. McLean has led an interesting career working with iconic folk artists like Pete Seeger and Jim Croce. McLean talked music, Madonna and Keith Richards with BWSV's Derek Gentile for a "Take Five" session from his home in Maine.

1. Q. Are there any contemporary artists you listen to these days?

A. Well, growing up, I loved listening to some of my peers: James Taylor, Van Morrison. But artists today? Not really. They all pretty much sound the same to me. Don't get me wrong. Some of them are great musicians. And I think it's great that they want to make music. But to me, it's all Diet Coke out there right now.

2. Q. What do you think that's about?

A. I think part of it is that a lot of these newcomers don't really know a lot about music. They know a lot about the kind of music they want to make. And that's fine. But look at a guy like Keith Richards. He's a rock-and -roll guy. But he knows a lot about a lot of different kinds of music: folk, blues, country. And that helps him when he writes his stuff.

3. Q. A few years ago, Madonna covered "American Pie." I'm sure you've heard it. What did you think of it?

A. I loved it. I thought it was outstanding. I thought Madonna did a great job with it. To me, she's an artist for the 20th and the 21st century. She's magnificent.

4. Q. You've been playing on the road for over five decades. How many dates do you play in a year these days?

A. I would say 70 or 80. That usually keeps me on the road from between 160 to 180 days a year.

5. Q. And it's still fun?

A.It is very much still fun. If it wasn't fun, I wouldn't do it. It's one of the few pleasures I have left these days.

As of press time, tickets were still available for McLean's Saturday night show.