Esteemed English singer-songwriter James Blake was recently in Los Angeles recording at Conway Studios where he was captured performing a live cover of “Vincent” by folk rock legend, Don McLean. Seated with a grand piano, Blake performed an impressive acoustic rendition of the revered ’70s ballad from McLean that was said to be inspired by renowned Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh. During an interview with The Telegraph in 2010, McLean detailed exactly how the classic song came to life.
“In the autumn of 1970 I had a job singing in the school system, playing my guitar in classrooms. I was sitting on the veranda one morning, reading a biography of Van Gogh, and suddenly I knew I had to write a song arguing that he wasn’t crazy. He had an illness and so did his brother Theo. This makes it different, in my mind, to the garden variety of ‘crazy’ – because he was rejected by a woman (as was commonly thought). So I sat down with a print of Starry Night and wrote the lyrics out on a paper bag.”
McLean eventually caught wind of James Blake’s cover and was thoroughly impressed, saying his “singing and piano playing are superb” on his Twitter account. Footage comes courtesy of director Andrew Douglas; press play to watch above and also revisit Blake’s amazing cover of Frank Ocean’s “Godspeed” from earlier this year.
It’s one of the greatest songs ever written. Many of your songs have helped me understand myself and I’ve also learned a lot from you as a writer. Thankyou so much for the kind words. Merry Xmas???
— James Blake (@jamesblake) December 25, 2017