Grand Rapids celebrates through the words of Don McLean

June 5, 2011

According to Youtube, I am the 2,323,052nd person to watch this video clip, so I certainly cannot claim any scoop here.  But it’s great:  a 9’49” “lip sync” to Don McLean’s “American Pie” song.  It’s all one take, and wanders the streets of Grand Rapids, Michigan with various people and groups (including football teams, policemen and the fire department) all singing the song.  McLean’s words thrill as always, but there is something deeply touching about this:  the care, the technical expertise, the extraordinary pre-production that was required and the (obvious) money and organisational skills that were involved.  The background is that Grand Rapids, Michigan – a metropolitan area of some 775,000 people and the second largest city in the state (after Detroit) – suffers from severe economic problems, like the rest of Michigan.  This, of course, is due to the decline in the “big three” US automotive companies.  In January 2011, Newsweek notoriously named Grand Rapids as one of the ten “most dying cities in America”.  And here is a useful June 3rd background short article on Grand Rapids by GR-born journalist Jef Otte.