Don McLean Calls Taylor Swift a 'Force of Nature' and Isn't Ruling Out a Cover: 'Anything Is Possible'

Don McLean is celebrating 50 years of "American Pie," a song recently dethroned by Taylor Swift as longest No. 1 hit

Don McLean; Taylor Swift
Don McLean, Taylor Swift. Photo: David Abbott; Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Don McLean has nothing but praise for Taylor Swift — even after she broke his record for longest No. 1 hit.

McLean, 76, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue that he considers the pop star a "major rock and roll force of nature," and is impressed by her career, which recently saw her 10-minute version of "All Too Well" overtake McLean's "American Pie" as the longest-in-length chart-topper.

"Taylor takes the whole new form of entertainment to the peak by making these phenomenal videos and records and doing these massive tours that are successful, and so on and so forth," he says. "It's really good for young people who want to get into this business. You can make it as a singer with a guitar if you figure out what Ed [Sheeran] did. And you can make it as a major rock and roll force of nature, which is what I call Taylor Swift, if you want to do that."

McLean previously revealed on Instagram that "class act" Swift, 32, sent him a bouquet of flowers and a special note, in which she wrote that she "will never forget that I'm standing on the shoulders of giants."

RELATED VIDEO: 'That's a Dream': Taylor Swift Reacts to Billy Joel Saying She's The Beatles of Her Generation

In a statement, the crooner said that while "nobody ever wants to lose that No. 1 spot.. if I had to lose it to somebody, I sure am glad it was another great singer/songwriter such as Taylor."

As for whether the world will ever see the two collaborate, McLean says never say never.

"Anything is possible, if it's done the right way," he says. "I'm always interested in doing anything."

The Grammy-nominated musician is currently "in training," he says, for a world tour in celebration of the 50th anniversary of his American Pie album and its seminal title track. He'll kick things off in January for 34 North American dates before heading to Europe in September for 35 more shows.

"I always felt that any kind of major career thing was sort of like golden handcuffs. It's funny, it's just my nature, I wanted freedom," he says. "And now I'm enjoying doing work these last six years to embrace this album and these albums and my career, and all the things that have happened is a sort of a final victory lap of some sort."

Don McLean
Don McLean. Keith Perry/Courtesy Don McLean

While McLean says he prefers not to dwell on the past, he can recall how his fame came on suddenly in the wake of the success of "American Pie" — and how the attention, which sometimes included fainting fans à la Beatlemania, wasn't always welcome.

"I was not comfortable with that. I don't like that much focus on me," he says. "It was something that I certainly did enjoy lots of times, but there was something strange about it."

Fifty years on, McLean accepts that the classic tune is part of his legacy — even if it has driven him into what he calls an "'American Pie' cul-de-sac."

"That's the hand I've been dealt and that's what you have to deal with," he says. "I will always be asked about this song. It was a phenomenon, it is still a phenomenon, and I accept that and I'm thankful for the fact that I have something that I did that has given people as much entertainment and happiness as that song and that album."

Looking forward, McLean says he's looking forward to the traveling that'll accompany his tour (as is girlfriend Paris Dylan, 27) and to playing for many years to come.

"My girlfriend and I love to travel, so she's really anxious to get up and get going and so am I," he says. "I want to get back to playing and living. This is my way of life. I'm like an old firehouse dog, I don't know anything else."

For more on Don McLean, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere now.

Related Articles