The Oignon has learned today that singer-songwriter Don McLean has filed a civil lawsuit against General Motors as well as made a complaint about the car giant to the Lansing, Michigan local authorities under a little-known ordinance that dates back to a time prior to the town's incorporation in 1859.
McLean reportedly went ballistic when he was doing a tour of the GM facility in Lansing on behalf of the Obama Administration, promoting American companies that employ American labor. Shortly after telling the visitors he was shepherding about GM's new policy to promote the real name "Chevrolet" (named after the founder of the brand) instead of the colloquial "Chevy", McLean's ears were attacked by some HORRIFIC sounds emanating from the background music system.
It seems that GM had been making "fair use" of a clip of McLean's 1971 smash hit "American Pie", particularly the portion where the main character "drove my Chevy to the levee and the levee was dry". Well, some over-zealous marketing operative apparently had the clip altered to "drove my Chevrolet to the Levy and the Levy was Dreyfuss".
In his lawsuit, McLean is asking for damages totalling $74.69 but more importantly for a permanent injunction forbidding GM from using any altered clips of his material. However, it seems that the ordinance violation may have the more serious effect on the giant carmaker, already unpopular with the public due to the multi-billion dollar taxpayer bailout it received.
The Oignon has learned that when Lansing was formed through the merger of the villages of Lan and Sing, that Sing had a special ordinance on the books. Sing had been founded by 4 members of a church choir who wanted the freedom to sing all day and night. The founders put a rule in the village charter that would permanently silence any newcomer whose songs offended any city residents. The definition of "resident" included honorary visitors such as out-of-state politicians and so forth. The ordinance was automatically made part of the charter of Lansing after the merger in 1848. McLean is now claiming honorary visitor status and seeking relief. At worst, the carmaker will be forbidden from playing any audio on any commercials that could be heard within Lansing for up to 99 years. This includes every single radio, TV or Internet version of their advertisements, since residents could always find some way to access them from within the city limits. Thus the complaint has the very real potential to totally silence GM for a very long time. Environmentalists interviewed by The Oignon appear to be ecstatic over this possibility.
In a gesture of good-faith compromise, McLean has offered to drop both his lawsuit and his complaint if GM were to restore the previous clip to the playlist at the facility, but no one in the Marketing Department at the company appears to be willing to defy the official corporate directive to promote "Chevrolet" at all costs.
Mr. McLean's brother Ron has taken up the cause and will air the issue on the Coaches' Corner on CBC. In this final 2009-2010 episode of their award-losing program, Ron McLean and sidekick Don Cherrrolet will interview the VP marketing of GM, who is sticking to his policy no matter how much it costs him, as well as the GM of the Montreal Canadiens, Peter Goat, who will also explain why he is sticking to the policy instituted by his predecessor Bob Gainrolet never to negotiate with upcoming free agents no matter how much this costs them.
Lansing residents can catch the show on the Windsor, Ontario affiliate of the CBC, available both over the air and on cable in Lansing.