Don McLean famously joked that the true meaning of 'American Pie' was that he would never have to work again if he didn't wish to. The quip took on additional weight when the original lyric sheet fetched $1.2m at auction recently - not bad for a faded scrap of paper stored in a box in the singer's garage.
That these 44-year-old jottings old could prompt a bidding frenzy testifies to the timeless power of 'American Pie' - a meditation on the downfall of the American Dream that has survived decades of over-exposure and an awful Madonna cover. It has also, of course, thoroughly overshadowed the rest of McLean's catalogue. But while some artists might resent a hit that puts other achievements in the shade, McClean (69) remains proud of 'Pie' and, at Vicar Street, did an effective job presenting it in the context of his wider repertoire (despite moments of patchy sound). He gave up recording new material in 2009, feeling the music industry was in a terminal decline. Thus the set, performed by the grizzled, silver-haired veteran and a five-piece band, was mostly a trawl through a songbook harking back to the golden era of confessional songwriters - when wearing your heart on your sleeve was not so much encouraged as mandatory.
Interestingly, the last time McLean played Dublin, then President Mary McAleese attended. Tonight, a former senior government minister watched from the balcony. Quite what it is about McLean that appeals to the political class is unclear - maybe they, like the rest of his fanbase, appreciate heartfelt songs delivered truthfully and passionately.