Castles In The Air

Album: Tapestry (1970)
Charted: 47 36
Play Video


  • The first song on Don McLean's first album, "Castles In The Air" is about a disillusioned city dweller who leaves his socialite girlfriend because he's tired of their superficial lifestyle, while she is incapable of knowing anything else. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Santa Barbara, CA
  • This is one of many songs McLean worked up in the '60s when he made the rounds on the folk music circuit, playing clubs and festivals on the East Coast. He spent most of his time in New York's Hudson Valley, where he often performed with Pete Seeger. In 1969, McLean was a crew member on a sloop called the Clearwater, which Seeger sailed to pressure politicians into passing clean water legislation. During this time, McLean built a small following as he honed his skills. By the time he made his first album, he had written, rewritten, refined and discarded hundreds of songs, finally settling on 10. When he shopped it to record companies, he got rejection after rejection until Alan Livingston, formerly of Capitol Records, signed McLean to his new label, Mediarts.

    In 1970, the album was finally released. Titled Tapestry, McLean beat Carole King to the name by a year. "Castles In The Air" was released as a single, but like the album, had little impact. Soon after, Mediarts ran into financial problems, putting McLean in rough waters. He kept writing songs for his next album, hoping something would work out, and they did: United Artists bought Mediarts and issued McLean's second album. That album was American Pie, catapulted McLean to the big leagues. "Castles In The Air" found a much bigger audience when his new fans dug into his catalog.
  • McLean released a new version of this song in 1981, which was his last hit, going to #36 in America and #47 in the UK.

Comments: 8

  • Dr.johnnyfever from Wkrp In CincinnatiDon McLean released a fresher update on Millennium Records around 1980-1981 and a much smoother easy-going version than the original in my opinion.
  • Jenny from Australia One of my favourite songs.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyThe original version was on the flip-side of "Vincent"; which peaked at No. 12 in 1972...
  • Barry from New York, NcFeatured on Mclean's debut album TAPESTRY, there are two versions of the song. The original song, which was recorded in 1969, featured a strings section. This was relesed the following year on Mediarts Records. In 1971, United Aritsts Records re-released the song, but overdubbed a Moog Synthesizer part. The UA version is more common as the Mediarts version is now out of print.
  • Reed from New Ulm, MnWhat a great song----rather melancholy, but great just the same.
  • Kerry G. from Detroit Rock City, MiProbly the best song I have ever heard. Another great driving tune.
  • Kevin from Reading , PaI saw Don perform this song live in concert in 2001 in 2,500 seat venue outside of Philadelphia. He was backed by a string quartet, and did a great version of the song. I also recall a memorable introduction, in which he spoke about the connection the song has to the Catskill mountains, where he was performing in the days before he made it big with "American Pie."
  • Philip from Akron, OhOn his live album _Solo_, Don McLean extends the story with the song "Three flights up." It describes the lives of the man's daughter, his wife, and his father-in-law. It is a tour-de-force.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Chris Fehn of Slipknot

Chris Fehn of SlipknotSongwriter Interviews

A drummer for one of the most successful metal bands of the last decade, Chris talks about what it's like writing and performing with Slipknot. Metal-neck is a factor.

TV Theme Songs

TV Theme SongsFact or Fiction

Was a Beatles song a TV theme? And who came up with those Fresh Prince and Sopranos songs?

Timothy B. Schmit

Timothy B. SchmitSongwriter Interviews

The longtime Eagle talks about soaring back to his solo career, and what he learned about songwriting in the group.

Little Big Town

Little Big TownSongwriter Interviews

"When seeds that you sow grow by the wicked moon/Be sure your sins will find you out/Your past will hunt you down and turn to tell on you."

Phil Hurtt ("I'll Be Around")

Phil Hurtt ("I'll Be Around")Songwriter Interviews

Phil was a songwriter, producer and voice behind many Philadelphia soul classics. When disco hit, he got an interesting project: The Village People.

Maria Muldaur

Maria MuldaurSongwriter Interviews

The "Midnight At The Oasis" singer is an Old Time gal. She talks about her jug band beginnings and shares a Dylan story.