Singer-songwriter Don McLean earned an enduring No. 1 hit with the unlikeliest of tunes: a plaintive, epic-length ballad about the end of America's innocence, spelled out in highly, often impenetrably poetic lyrics. Despite this, "American Pie" became one of the great pop songs of the 20th century, as well as the defining recording of McLean's career. He emerged from the New York folk scene in the late 1960s, drawing influence from such legends as Pete Seeger and the Weavers. "American Pie" immediately elevated him from obscurity to superstardom, but McLean would find it difficult to find chart success in its wake, largely due to his own reticence to repeat the song's formula. Though his star was largely on the wane by the 1980s, both he and "American Pie" remained perennial favorites on radio and in concert, where he dutifully worked through the song for new generations of listeners raised on their parents' LPs. If McLean's greatest misfortune was that he never generated more than one truly memorable song, he still proved one of the luckiest songwriters in history by making "American Pie" that song.