Don McLean is "not a happy person".
The 76-year-old singer is "fragile" and "feels things acutely" so has learned over the years the best way to protect himself is not to place too many demands on his time and to avoid pushing himself to exhaustion.
He said: "I'm not a happy person. I’m a blue person a lot of times, for a lot of reasons. When I look back at my childhood I don’t see a shining picture of love and warmth and togetherness. I see an empty house with me in it, separated from people. So I created my own world and fell in love with that...
"It’s very hard for guys like me who are poets and musicians and who feel things acutely. It’s why I’m able to write the songs I do but I am fragile. I get hurt real bad. I had a nervous breakdown in 1974. I couldn’t stop crying, I couldn’t leave the house. I was in really bad shape. After that, I changed my ways. I don’t let people over-schedule me and I don’t let myself get exhausted."
The 'American Pie' hitmaker doesn't "trust" people and feels "mentally on [his] own", and while Don shares his home with girlfriend Paris Dylan, he and the 28-year-old model give one another a lot of space.
He told the Sunday Times magazine: "In the afternoon my girlfriend and I might be in the bedroom packing for three different trips. I’m very romantic and we do a lot of fun things together. Or we might be in the office scanning documents.
"I leave her alone a lot. I don’t loom. And she gives me space too. The one thing she knows about me is not to move my stuff. That’s wrong. I have everything where I need it.
"I have a few friends, including my band, but I don’t trust people and I don’t keep in touch with people from the past too well. I’m not lonely — I have a very rich life — but we’ve gotten to the real me here; mentally I’m on my own."
The 'Vincent' singer feels agitated when he talks about his childhood home, and admitted he sold the property because it just brought back bad memories.
He said: "I sold my parents’ house in New York because every time I went there I’d cry. It was always going to be a trigger for my childhood sadness; it’s bothering me right now even talking about it."