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Encyclopedia > American Pie (song)
"American Pie"
American Pie cover
Single by Don McLean
from the album American Pie
Released November, 1971
Format vinyl record
Recorded May 1971-Jun 1971
Genre Rock
Length 8:27
Label United Artists
Writer(s) Don McLean
Producer(s) Ed Freeman
Chart positions
Don McLean singles chronology

"American Pie"
(1971)
"Vincent"
(1972)

"American Pie" is an eight-and-a-half minute long classic rock song by singer-songwriter Don McLean, about "the day the music died". Image File history File links This image is the cover of an album or single. ... A collection of various CD singles In music, a single is a short record, usually featuring one or two tracks as A-side, often accompanied by several B-sides, usually remixes or other songs. ... Cover of the American Pie album. ... American Pie is the title of a 1971 music album by Don McLean, best known for its title track. ... A gramophone record, (also phonograph record - often simply record) is an analog sound recording medium: a flat disc rotating at a constant angular velocity, with inscribed spiral grooves in which a stylus or needle rides. ... A music genre is a category (or genre) of pieces of music that share a certain style or basic musical language (van der Merwe 1989, p. ... Rock and roll (also spelled rock n roll, especially in its first decade), is a genre of music that emerged as a defined musical style in the Southern United States in the 1950s, and quickly spread to the rest of the country, and the world (rhythm sample). ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... United Artists Records was a record label founded by United Artists soon after its own founding in 1919 to distribute soundtracks from its movies. ... A songwriter is someone who writes the lyrics to songs, the musical composition or melody to songs, or both. ... Cover of the American Pie album. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... A record chart, also known as a music chart, is a method of ranking music according to popularity during a given period of time. ... Cover of the American Pie album. ... Classic rock was originally conceived as a radio station programming format which evolved from the album oriented rock (AOR) format in the mid-1980s. ... The term singer-songwriter refers to performers who both write and sing their own material. ... Cover of the American Pie album. ... Monument at Crash Site, September 16, 2003. ...


Recorded in 1971 and released that year on the album of the same name, it was a number-one U.S. hit in 1972. It offers an allusive history of rock and roll, starting with the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J. P. Richardson, Jr. (The Big Bopper) in a plane crash in 1959. The importance of "American Pie" to America's musical and cultural heritage was recognized by the Songs of the Century education project, created by the Recording Industry Association of America, the National Endowment for the Arts, Scholastic Inc., and [email protected] which listed the song performed by Don McLean as the number five song of the twentieth century. American Pie is the title of a 1971 music album by Don McLean, best known for its title track. ... See also: 1971 in music, other events of 1972, 1973 in music, 1970s in music and the list of years in music // Events January 17 - Highway 51 South in Memphis, Tennessee is renamed Elvis Presley Blvd January 20 - Pink Floyd debuts Dark Side of the Moon during a performance at... Allusion is a stylistic device in which one implicitly references a related object or circumstance that has occurred or existed in an external context. ... Rock and roll (also spelled Rock n Roll, especially in its first decade), also called rock, is a form of popular music, usually featuring vocals (often with vocal harmony), electric guitars and a strong back beat; other instruments, such as the saxophone, are common in some styles. ... Death is the full cessation of vital functions in the biological life. ... Buddy Holly redirects here. ... Richard Steven Valenzuela (May 13, 1941 – February 3, 1959), better known as Ritchie Valens, was a pioneer of rock and roll and, as a Mexican-American born in Pacoima, California[1], became the first Mexican-American rock and roll star. ... Jiles Perry (J.P.) Richardson, Jr. ... The Songs of the Century list is part of an education project by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the National Endowment for the Arts, and Scholastic Inc. ... The RIAA Logo. ... The National Endowment for the Arts is a United States federally funded program that offers support and funding for projects that exhibit artistic excellence. ... Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL) is a book publishing company, known for its distribution method of selling through schools by mail order. ...


The song's lyrics remain the subject of much debate. Although McLean dedicated the American Pie album to Buddy Holly, none of the singers in the plane crash are identified by name in the song itself. Later performers are also alluded to with easily decoded identifications, leading to much discussion, encouraged by McLean's canny lifelong refusal to explain the lyrics. Asked what "American Pie" meant, McLean once replied, "It means I never have to work again". Later, he more seriously stated, "You will find many 'interpretations' of my lyrics but none of them by me [...] Sorry to leave you all on your own like this but long ago I realized that songwriters should make their statements and move on, maintaining a dignified silence."

Contents


Interpretations

During its initial popularity, guessing about the meaning of the song's lyrics was a popular pastime. Many radio stations and disc jockeys published unofficial interpretations. Over the years, assisted by the collective power of the Internet and McLean himself, something approaching a "standard interpretation" of the song has emerged. How much of it was actually in McLean's mind, consciously or unconsciously, when he wrote the lyrics, is often debated. For other meanings of DJ, see DJ (disambiguation). ...


In his "Starry, Starry Night" video recorded in 2000, McLean said:

"I'm very proud of the song. It is biographical in nature and I don't think anyone has ever picked up on that. The song starts off with my memories of the death of Buddy Holly. But it moves on to describe America as I was seeing it and how I was fantasizing it might become, so it's part reality and part fantasy but I'm always in the song as a witness or as even the subject sometimes in some of the verses. You know how when you dream something you can see something change into something else and it's illogical when you examine it in the morning but when you're dreaming it seems perfectly logical. So it's perfectly okay for me to talk about being in the gym and seeing this girl dancing with someone else and suddenly have this become this other thing that this verse becomes and moving on just like that. That's why I've never analyzed the lyrics to the song. They're beyond analysis. They're poetry." [1]

McLean's website provides a clear statement of the songwriter's purpose [2]:

"['American Pie' is] autobiographical and presents an abstract story of Don McLean's life from the mid 1950s until when he wrote the song in the late 1960s. It is almost entirely symbolised by the evolution of popular music over these years and represents a change from the lightness of the 1950s to the darkness of the late 1960s."

The primary interpretation of "American Pie" in this article is based on McLean's stated intent, his other views, particularly regarding religion, and his biography. These are used to filter alternative interpretations from the three sources in the Reference section and other well-known events in music history. Each Reference section source is in itself a compilation of the viewpoints of many more people as well as other references. Even so, "American Pie" remains somewhat of an enigma given McLean's sparse explanations. Though it is clear he intended multiple meanings for certain parts of his song, it is not clear where he intended to have them. When McLean's autobiographical theme is relaxed or ignored, the numerous allusions have been combined to create some novel impressionistic effects that have lead to interpretations he may not have intended.


Autobiographical theme

The autobiographical theme of "American Pie" provides the chronological framework for the song's verses. The first verse describes McLean's memories of the rock and roll dance music he loved as a young child and his reaction, at age thirteen, to the deaths of Holly, Valens, and Richardson. "American Pie" may represent the youthful, popular American culture of the mid- and late-1950s that involved the styles in music, dance, dress, movies, radio, television, and romance that McLean loved as a child and young teenager. The chorus marks the passing of that culture and its values with the accidental deaths of Holly, Valens, and Richardson in 1959. Rock and roll (also spelled Rock n Roll, especially in its first decade), also called rock, is a form of popular music, usually featuring vocals (often with vocal harmony), electric guitars and a strong back beat; other instruments, such as the saxophone, are common in some styles. ...


The second verse describes McLean's perception of American culture during his innocent boyhood and the beginning of the loss of innocence thereafter. McLean personified that perception as Miss American Pie, referring to her as "you" in the lyrics. By imagining that he asks her whether she wrote "the book of love" and whether she has faith in God if the Bible tells her so, McLean might have expressed his belief about how important the moral and spiritual values of the Christian faith were for America at the time. In addition, McLean may have imagined Miss American Pie dancing at a sock hop with Buddy Holly, representing America's love of 1950s rock and roll. Added to the gloom associated with the deaths of Holly, Valens, and Richardson, McLean alluded to "Lonely Teenager", a song by Dion and The Belmonts released in 1960. (Dion performed with the other three musicians the night before they perished.) McLean has mentioned that 1959 to 1963 marked his acquaintance with "the darker realities of adulthood": his father died in 1961; and in 1963, he dropped out of Villanova University to become a professional musician, and suffered as President Kennedy was assassinated. Finally, the verse includes an allusion to being stood up at a prom by referring to the song "A White Sport Coat (And A Pink Carnation)" (1957) by Marty Robbins, which likely represents McLean's final separation with Miss American Pie. The Gutenberg Bible owned by the United States Library of Congress The Bible (Hebrew: תנ״ך tanakh, Greek: η Βίβλος hē biblos, the book) (sometimes The Holy Bible, The Book, Work of God, The Word of God, The Word, The Good Book, Scripture, or The Scriptures), is the name used by Jews and Christians... A sock hop is a term coined in the 1950s in the United States, following the growth in popularity of rock and roll, to refer to informal sponsored dances at American high schools, typically held on the grounds of the high school itself in the gymnasium or cafeteria. ... Dion and the Belmonts was a musical group led by singer/songwriter Dion DiMucci. ... Villanova University is a private, Catholic university located in Radnor Township, a suburb northwest of Philadelphia on the Pennsylvania Main Line. ... John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), often referred to as John F. Kennedy, JFK or Jack Kennedy, was the 35th President of the United States. ... In the United States, a prom, short for promenade, is a formal dance held at the end of the of the high school academic year. ... Marty Robbins, (September 26, 1925, Glendale, Arizona - December 8, 1982), was an American Country & Western Hall of Fame musician. ...


The third verse focuses on the rise of Bob Dylan, and corresponds to McLean's years as a young adult, the songwriter being inspired by The Weavers to become a professional folk singer at the time Dylan emerged as a powerful and popular musical force. From 1963 to 1969, McLean performed and toured with the likes of Pete Seeger, Herbie Mann, Brownie McGee, Sonny Terry, Melanie, Steppenwolf, Arlo Guthrie, Janis Ian, Josh White, and Ten Wheel Drive. McLean's intimate knowledge of Bob Dylan's songs are reflected in multiple verses. As an observer and participant in the 1960s American music scene, McLean traced the rise and domination of American music by The Beatles (1959-1969), starting in the third verse; and highlighted the tribulations of The Byrds (1966-1967), in the fourth. Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, musician and poet whose enduring contributions to American song are often compared, in fame and influence, to those of Stephen Foster, Irving Berlin, Woody Guthrie, and Hank Williams. ... The Weavers were an immensely popular and influential folk music quartet from Greenwich Village, New York, United States. ... Seegers album Clearwater Classics. ... Herbert Jay Solomon (April 16, 1930 – July 1, 2003), better known as Herbie Mann, was an American jazz flutist and important practitioner of world music. ... Saunders Terrell, better known as Sonny Terry, was born in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1911 and died on March 11, 1986 in Mineola, New York. ... Melanie is a given name for a female. ... For the book, see Steppenwolf (novel) Steppenwolf album cover Steppenwolf is a 1960s and 1970s rock n roll band, best known for the hits Born to Be Wild and Magic Carpet Ride. They were named after the novel Steppenwolf by German author Hermann Hesse. ... A press photo of Arlo Guthrie. ... This article is about the singer Janis Ian, for the character from the movie Mean Girls see Janis Ian (Mean Girls) Janis Ian (born on April 7, 1951) is a Grammy-winning American songwriter, singer and multi-instrumental musician. ... Josh White (born Josha Daniel White in Greensboro, North Carolina, February 11, 1914 or 1915; d. ... Ten Wheel Drive were an American Jazz-Rock/Fusion-Band from 1968 to 1974. ... The Beatles were an English pop and rock music group from Liverpool, who continue to be held in the very highest regard for their artistic achievements, their huge commercial success, and their ground-breaking role in the history of popular music. ... The Byrds (formed in Los Angeles, California in 1964) was an American rock group. ...


By 1968, McLean, at age 22, was invited to become "Hudson River Troubadour" by the New York State Council for the Arts. In the song's fifth verse, McLean is at odds with the cultural and musical trends represented by Woodstock, which took place in his native New York in 1969, and conveys his disgust with The Rolling Stones (1968-1969). While McLean recorded his first album, "Tapestry", in 1969, a student riot took place just outside the Berkeley, California studio's door. By the last verse, McLean is saddened by the death of Janis Joplin (1970), and is dejected by the dissolution of music as an uplifting, spiritual, and moral force in the face of overwhelming violence at home and abroad. Woodstock may refer to: Woodstock Music and Art Festival, a 1969 U.S. rock festival which inspired a 1970 Warner Bros. ... The Rolling Stones are an English band that rose to prominence during the British Invasion of the 1960s. ... Janis Lyn Joplin (January 19, 1943 – October 4, 1970) was an American blues-influenced rock singer and occasional songwriter with a distinctive voice. ...


Overall, McLean's musical "evolution" starts with Bob Dylan's celebration of expanding liberty, freedom, and individuality in "a voice that came from you and me"; moved through the drug-influenced culture of the mid- and late 1960s of "Helter Skelter" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" by The Beatles; and ended with what seems to be the masochistic violence of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" by The Rolling Stones and the real violent mayhem at the Altamont (California) Speedway concert in December 1969.


A New interpretation of the chorus

It is more likely that this verse refers to the murder of three college students, which was the subject of the film Mississippi Burning. These students were trying to register black voters in Mississippi. They were murdered and buried by a group of bigoted group of thugs with the connivance of the police who arrested them on a trumped up traffic offence, and released them into the hands of the gang. Ray Killen, a Baptist preacher at the time was convicted of their murder and given three life sentences BBC news article. “Them good ol’ boys were”: Holly, Valens, and the Big Bopper. They were singing about their deaths on February 3rd 1959. On of the chorus lines to Holly’s hit song “That’ll be the Day” is “That’ll be the day that I die.” [3] Mississippi Burning is a 1988 film which tells a highly fictionalized version of the investigation into the real-life murders of three civil rights workers in Mississippi in 1964. ... Official language(s) English Capital Jackson Largest city Jackson Area  Ranked 32nd  - Total 48,434 sq mi (125,443 km²)  - Width 170 miles (275 km)  - Length 340 miles (545 km)  - % water 3  - Latitude 30°13N to 35°N  - Longitude 88°7W to 91°41W Population  Ranked 31st... February 3 is the 34th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1959 (MCMLIX) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


BBC news article. “Them good ol’ boys were”: Holly, Valens, and the Big Bopper. They were singing about their deaths on February 3rd 1959. On of the chorus lines to Holly’s hit song “That’ll be the Day” is “That’ll be the day that I die.” [4] February 3 is the 34th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1959 (MCMLIX) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Cultural references

The day the music died

The day the music died is the name McLean gave to February 3, 1959, the day an airplane carrying musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper crashed, killing all three. But, as he explained on his web site [5], the date has a profound meaning to McLean because it marked a major change in his life: Monument at Crash Site, September 16, 2003. ... February 3 is the 34th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1959 (MCMLIX) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Buddy Holly redirects here. ... Richard Steven Valenzuela (May 13, 1941 – February 3, 1959), better known as Ritchie Valens, was a pioneer of rock and roll and, as a Mexican-American born in Pacoima, California[1], became the first Mexican-American rock and roll star. ... Jiles Perry (J.P.) Richardson, Jr. ...

"In Don's life the transition from light (the innocence of childhood) to the darker realities of adulthood probably started with the death of Buddy Holly and culminated with the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 and the start of a more difficult time for America."

From the standpoint of about 1970, the twenty-five year old songwriter recalled the effect of six transitions on the day the music died, noted at the end of each verse of "American Pie". President Kennedy, with his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Texas Governor John Connally in the Presidential limousine shortly before the assassination. ... John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), often referred to as John F. Kennedy, JFK or Jack Kennedy, was the 35th President of the United States. ...

  • In the first verse, McLean tries to remember how he felt when the Holly, Valens, and The Big Bopper died when he was a thirteen year old boy: But February made me shiver with every paper I'd deliver; and I can't remember if I cried when I read about his widowed bride (referring to Holly's pregnant wife Maria Elena Holly). But at the end, all he can say is, But something touched me deep inside the day the music died.
  • At the end of the second verse that describes McLean's perceptions of middle class America during the mid- and late-1950s, McLean believes that events after the day the music died would portend to bad times ahead: But I knew I was out of luck the day the music died.
  • At the end of the third verse that focuses on the rise of Bob Dylan, McLean speaks for a generation of songwriters and musicians that misses Holly, Valens, and Richardson: And we sang dirges in the dark the day the music died.
  • At the end of the fourth verse where McLean witnessed the effects of drug use on rock music, he asks if there was some higher meaning related to February 3, 1959: Do you recall what was revealed the day the music died?
  • After McLean saw a murder and beatings at the Altamont Speedway concert in December 1969, in the fifth verse, he writes that Satan was happy on the day the music died: I saw Satan laughing with delight the day the music died.
  • Finally, at the end of "American Pie", McLean sees Holly, Valens, and The Big Bopper off to heaven on February 3, 1959: And the three men I admire most:/ The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost, / They caught the last train for the coast the day the music died.

Maria Elena Holly (born Maria Elena Santiago in 1935 in San Juan, Puerto Rico) was the wife of one of the founding fathers of rock and roll, Buddy Holly. ... The middle class (or middle classes) comprises a social group once defined by exception as an intermediate social class between the nobility and the peasantry. ... Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, musician and poet whose enduring contributions to American song are often compared, in fame and influence, to those of Stephen Foster, Irving Berlin, Woody Guthrie, and Hank Williams. ... This article concerns the music festival. ... Gustave Dores depiction of Satan from John Miltons Paradise Lost Satan (Standard Hebrew: , Satan Tiberian Hebrew ; Greek , Satanás; Aramaic: , ; Arabic: شيطان, Shaitan) is a Abrahamic term which is traditionally applied to an angel, demon, or minor god in many belief systems. ...

The Chevy and the levee

The chorus contains the line Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry that may have multiple meanings. The first is derived from lines in the 1956, General Motors jingle, "See the USA in Your Chevrolet", advertising that brand of vehicles: A levee, levée (from the feminine past participle of the French verb lever, to raise), floodbank or stopbank is a natural or artificial embankment or dike, usually earthen, which parallels the course of a river. ... General Motors Corporation (NYSE: GM), also known as GM, is an American automobile maker with worldwide operations and brands including Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Holden, Hummer, Opel, Pontiac, Saturn, Saab and Vauxhall. ... A jingle is a memorable slogan, set to an engaging melody, mainly broadcast on radio and sometimes on television commercials. ... Chevrolet (Shev-ro-LAY), or Chevy for short, is a brand of automobile, now a division of General Motors. ...

1959 Chevrolet Impala (modified street rod)
1959 Chevrolet Impala (modified street rod)
On a highway or road along the levee,
Performance is sweeter, nothing can beat her,
Life is completer in a Chevy.

Since traveling is a common metaphor for making one's way through life, driving a Chevy meant making it through life in a patriotic, middle class style that the owner could be proud of. A drive on a "road along the levee" beside a river or other body of water represents a scenic, fulfilling sojourn, so, the missing water along the levee implies that the trip, life, became empty. In this interpretation, the loss associated with the departure, passing, or separation from Miss American Pie befits a mournful drinking song: And them good ol' boys were drinking whisky and rye singing / This'll be the day that I die / This'll be the day that I die. That separation is similar to the one feared by the guy with his gal in the Buddy Holly and The Crickets' song "That'll Be The Day". A Classic Car Picture taken in Pacifica, CA on Sept 26, 2004 File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... A Classic Car Picture taken in Pacifica, CA on Sept 26, 2004 File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Thatll Be The Day by Buddy Holly and The Crickets is credited as being written by Allison, (this being Jerry Allison the drummer with the group), Holly, (the lead guitarist and vocalist) and Petty, (Norman Petty being the manager). ...


It is possible that "the levee" also refers to the name of the bar in New Rochelle, New York (now known as the Beechmont Tavern) where McLean imagined he and his friends mourned the death of Buddy Holly. The next chorus phrase meaning whiskey in rye rather than whiskey and rye may refer to the nearby town of Rye where McLean would often go with his friends after The Levee closed. New Rochelle City Hall New Roc City New Rochelle is a city in Westchester County in the US state of New York, 16 miles (26 km) from Grand Central Terminal in New York City. ... The Town of Rye is listed under the commonly used name Rye Town, New York The Rye, NY City Seal. ...


Miss American Pie

Some mistakenly believe that "Miss American Pie" is the name of the plane that crashed. This is an urban legend: the plane had no name, only a registration number [6]. Urban legends are a kind of folklore consisting of stories often thought to be factual by those circulating them (see rumor). ...


See the Autobiographic theme section for interpretation of the chorus and second verse.


Religion

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The Trinity is mentioned in "American Pie". Painting: "The Trinity and All the Saints", by Jean Fouquet

"American Pie" includes a number of Christian religious elements that includes an allusion to Jesus wearing his Crown of Thorns; and the mentioning of "angels born in hell", the Trinity, Satan, and titles of two songs with lyrics that allude to God. In addition, some people believe that "American Pie" alludes to the Apocalypse. The purpose of these elements probably is not to promote a Christian theme because in December 2005, McLean explained that he is not Christian: Image File history File links La_Trinité_et_tous_les_saints. ... Image File history File links La_Trinité_et_tous_les_saints. ... Jesus (8-2 BC/BCE — 29-36 AD/CE),[1] also known as Jesus of Nazareth, is the central figure of Christianity. ... In Christianity, the Crown of Thorns, one of the instruments of the Passion, was the woven chaplet of thorn branches worn by Jesus before his crucifixion. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... For other uses, see Trinity (disambiguation). ... Gustave Dores depiction of Satan from John Miltons Paradise Lost Satan (Standard Hebrew: , Satan Tiberian Hebrew ; Greek , Satanás; Aramaic: , ; Arabic: شيطان, Shaitan) is a Abrahamic term which is traditionally applied to an angel, demon, or minor god in many belief systems. ... Look up Apocalypse in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

"I am not a devoted Christian. I do believe in God. I would say I'm some sort of a pantheist. I live in the forest and I think I'm living in church; that's my god. I do not understand why people have to believe in something. You're going to find out what the truth is one way or another sooner or later and it seems to me that the requirement that you need to believe in something in this life is like trying to choose door A or door B – are you going to choose the door to Heaven or the door to Hell and to me it doesn't seem intelligent. I do understand a lot of people get a lot of comfort from it but it's not for me." [7]

One purpose of the religious elements in "American Pie" might be to remind the listener that music can provide spiritual fulfillment. McLean seemed to have expressed his belief in this power of music in the two questions asked in the second verse: Now do you believe in rock and roll[?] and can music save your mortal soul[?]. It also seems that McLean believed the antithesis is true, that music can corrupt the soul since the fifth verse describes a murder while The Rolling Stones performed music with wicked themes at the Altamont Speedway concert in December 1969. Pantheism literally means God is All and All is God. It is the view that everything is of an all-encompassing immanent God; or that the universe, or nature, and God are equivalent. ... Altamont Raceway Park is a speedway in Northern California, in Tracy near Livermore. ...


The book of love and the Bible tells you so

The second verse of "American Pie" opens with a Christian theme: Did you write the book of love. The phrase refers to the title of the 1958 song "The Book of Love" by The Monotones, that includes the lines: The Monotones were a six-member rock n roll band in the 1950s. ...

Tell me, tell me, tell me
Oh, who wrote the Book Of Love
I've got to know the answer
Was it someone from above?

The second verse also asks ... and do you have faith in God above? / If the Bible tells you so. Given McLean's characterization of 1950s American culture in the second verse, the line likely alludes to the title of the 1955 song "The Bible Tells Me So" by Don Cornell. The song includes the word "faith" in the refrain: Don Cornell (April 21, 1919 in New York City - February 23, 2004 in Aventura, Florida) was a popular singer of the 1940s and 1950s. ...

Have faith, hope and charity
That's the way to live successfully
How do I know, the Bible tells me so

The line might also or alternatively allude to the popular nineteenth century hymn "Jesus Loves Me" created by William Bradbury in 1862 with words drafted two years earlier by Anna Warner that includes the lines: A hymn is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of praise, adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a god or other religiously significant figure. ... This page is a candidate to be copied to Wikisource. ...

Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so

The King and the thorny crown

The third verse includes the line Oh and while the King was looking down, the jester stole his thorny crown. The Romans had mockingly nicknamed Jesus "the King of the Jews" in the hours before His death, forcing Jesus to wear a crown of thorns. Statues and paintings of Jesus dying on the Cross normally show Him still wearing the crown, and looking down to His mother and John. However, there is no Biblical account of the crown being stolen. (See the Bob Dylan section on the thorny crown being a symbol for suffering.) Jesus (8-2 BC/BCE — 29-36 AD/CE),[1] also known as Jesus of Nazareth, is the central figure of Christianity. ... In Christianity, the Crown of Thorns, one of the instruments of the Passion, was the woven chaplet of thorn branches worn by Jesus before his crucifixion. ...


This lyric may refer to Dylan (the Jester) inclining toward Judeo-Christian religious themes in the album John Wesley Harding (1967), his first since a motorcylce accident on July 29, 1966, in which Dylan broke his neck. This album included the song, "All Along the Watchtower", with lyrics derived from the Book of Isaiah (21:5–9).


The Trinity

The final verse of "American Pie" includes the lines:

And the three men I admire most: The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost,
They caught the last train for the coast the day the music died.

The three persons are an allusion to the Christian Trinity. The interpretation that is most consistent with events in the song is that the three persons are The Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens, and Buddy Holly, respectively. Specifically, The Father is The Big Bopper, who was the only father among the three musicians. Indeed, at the time of Richardson's death at age 28, he had been married to Adrian Joy Fryon for over six years, and the couple had a daughter, Deborah, and were expecting a son, Jay Perry. The Son is Valens, who died as a child at age seventeen. The Holy Ghost of rock and roll is Buddy Holly because of his pervasive influence on that music. Holly was an original inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their travel on "the last train for the coast" is a metaphor for death, with the coast representing heaven as their final destination. For other uses, see Trinity (disambiguation). ... Jiles Perry (J.P.) Richardson, Jr. ... Richard Steven Valenzuela (May 13, 1941 – February 3, 1959), better known as Ritchie Valens, was a pioneer of rock and roll and, as a Mexican-American born in Pacoima, California[1], became the first Mexican-American rock and roll star. ... Buddy Holly redirects here. ... The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at sunset. ...


Numerous other trios have been suggested, the most popular being the three American leaders assassinated during the 1960s: President John F. Kennedy as the Father; his younger brother Robert F. Kennedy as the Son; and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as the Holy Ghost. John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), often referred to as John F. Kennedy, JFK or Jack Kennedy, was the 35th President of the United States. ... RFK redirects here. ... Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ...


New Age Religions and The Death of God

The line in the last verse, They caught the last train for the coast the day the music died, derives the notion of the Christian Trinity's departure, withdraw or defeat, or abandonment. These may allude to the many New Age religions that took root in the west coast of the U.S. during the 1960s, what some believe is the Christian God's abandonment of the United States, or the death of God himself (see God is dead). New Age describes a broad movement characterized by alternative approaches to traditional Western culture. ... A Time Magazine cover story (April 8, 1966) on religion in America, asked Is God Dead? It would become one of Times most controversial issues. ...

An image of the Apocalypse by Albrecht Dürer: "Four horsemen of the Apocalypse"
Enlarge
An image of the Apocalypse by Albrecht Dürer: "Four horsemen of the Apocalypse"

Download high resolution version (550x759, 152 KB)Dürers Four horsemen of the Apocalypse The two-dimensional work of art depicted in this image is in the public domain in the United States and in those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years. ... Download high resolution version (550x759, 152 KB)Dürers Four horsemen of the Apocalypse The two-dimensional work of art depicted in this image is in the public domain in the United States and in those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years. ...

Apocalypse and nuclear war

Some people believe that "American Pie" includes an allusion to a battle between Satan against the Christian Trinity in the fifth and sixth verses. The impression is enhanced by the fourth verse's conflict between "players", interpreted as everyday people who want to dance, being prevented from accessing a field already occupied by a "marching band" composed of sergeants, interpreted as a military force. The desolation in the song's last lines, And in the streets the children screamed, the lovers cried, and the poets dreamed, / But not a word was spoken, the church bells all were broken, and the Trinity's subsequent departure or retreat, is interpreted as the Trinity's defeat. Because the fourth verse mentions a fallout shelter and what might seem to be a bomb dropped from "Eight miles high", some people perceive that the desolation is the aftermath of a future nuclear war that a morally-weakened America, though still represented by the Trinity, loses to the Soviet Union, represented by Satan. For some others, the crises illustrate a prophecy from the Book of Revelation that may or may not be realized as a nuclear war. Nuclear War is a card game designed by Douglas Malewicki, and originally published in 1966. ... Prophecy, in a broad sense, is the prediction of future events. ... Visions of John the Evangelist, as depicted in the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. ...


Music

In addition to the cultural references exposed above, there are several other references to events or changes in the world of music throughout "American Pie".


The decline of dance music

In contrast to the rock and roll theme in the second verse, the fourth verse seems to mark the decline of dance music where the lyrics reads: ... while the sergeants played a marching tune / We all got up to dance, oh but we never got the chance / 'Cause the players tried to take the field, the marching band refused to yield. The conflict between the sergeants and players may allude to the rivalry between intelligent, art rock (specifically represented by The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band) and fun, dance rock (such as that by The Beach Boys), in which the marching music wins, meaning McLean thought that the era of rock and roll dance music was over. Some people believe this passage contains a deeper reference to the Vietnam war (this theory is discussed later), The Beatles' last live performance (see The Beatles section), and competition between The Beatles and The Byrds (see The Byrds section). Overall, McLean may be using the imagery of a football game to address The Beatles' domination of the "field" or occupation of the center stage of popular American music as measured in the sheer volume of their record sales represented by the June 1967 release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and release of Magical Mystery Tour only five months later. Both became U.S. best selling albums for 19 weeks and 8 weeks, respectively. The line "Now the half-time air was sweet perfume while the sergeants played a marching tune," has sometimes been interpreted to refer to either marijuana smoke, or teargas. This is about the Beatles album, for the movie based around this album, see Sgt. ... The Beach Boys are a pop music group formed in Hawthorne, California in 1961 who are widely considered one of the most influential bands in rock and pop music history. ... Magical Mystery Tour is an album by British rock band The Beatles, first released in late November 1967. ...


Bob Dylan

The jester, the king, and the queen

The third and fourth verses contain references to Bob Dylan. The third verse includes the lines:

When the jester sang for the king and queen in a coat he borrowed from James Dean
And a voice that came from you and me
Oh and while the king was looking down, the jester stole his thorny crown

A strong case has been made that the jester is Bob Dylan. James Dean famously wore a red windbreaker in the movie Rebel Without a Cause, and Dylan was shown in a windbreaker on the cover of one of his albums, Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. Dylan also described himself as a clown chasing his muse in "Mr. Tambourine Man" (1965). The fact that the jester sang in a "voice that came from you and me" would refer to the populist origins of American folk music. Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, musician and poet whose enduring contributions to American song are often compared, in fame and influence, to those of Stephen Foster, Irving Berlin, Woody Guthrie, and Hank Williams. ... James Byron Dean (February 8, 1931 – September 30, 1955) was an American film actor who epitomized youthful angst. ... Natalie Wood and James Dean in a screenshot from Rebel Without a Cause. ... The Freewheelin Bob Dylan, released May 27, 1963, was folk musician Bob Dylans second LP. This release established him as a songwriter of premier importance. ... Mr. ... Folk music, in the original sense of the term, is music by and of the common people. ...


The jester is mentioned again in the fourth verse line ... with the jester on the sidelines in a cast. Assuming the jester is Dylan, this probably refers to his July 29, 1966, motorcycle crash that left him badly injured.


In music, "the king" is Elvis Presley for McLean and much of America. The thorny crown, a Christian symbol for suffering, can be taken to represent the price of fame and power — specifically, Presley's struggle to cope with celebrity. The jester stealing the king's crown probably refers to Dylan overtaking Presley in record sales by the mid-1960s and also suffering the side effects of celebrity. McLean's line, The courtroom was adjourned, no verdict was returned, may refer to America's continued regard for Presley as "The King" even though Dylan was in the limelight. Elvis redirects here. ...


Also in music, "the queen" of rock and roll in the late 1950s was Connie Francis. As with Elvis Presley, Francis' music recording successes were used to launch a successful movie career. Connie Francis MGM LP record, 1961 Connie Francis (December 12, 1938 in Newark, New Jersey) is an American singer. ...


An alternate theory suggests that the "king and queen" are Pete Seeger and Joan Baez, regarded in the early 1960e as the king and queen of folk music. Seeger, who had strong ties to Dylan's guru Woody Guthrie, was seen in the late 1950s and early '60s as the reigning figure in folk music, a title Dylan would soon steal. Dylan would also take up, both professionally and personally with Baez, the queen of folk. It has been suggested that the line "when the jester sang for the king and queen" could refer to the 1963 Newport Folk Festival, at which Baez and Seeger were in attendance, and which marked Dylan's rise to national fame. Seegers album Clearwater Classics. ... Joan Baezs 1975 bestseller Diamonds & Rust. ... Woody Guthrie with Guitar Woodrow Wilson Guthrie (July 14, 1912–October 3, 1967), known as Woody Guthrie was an influential and prolific American folk musician noted for his identification with the common man, the poor and the downtrodden, and for his abhorrence of fascism and exploitation. ... The Newport Folk Festival is an annual folk-oriented music festival founded in 1959 by George Wein, founder of the already-well-established Newport Jazz Festival, and his partner, Albert Grossman. ...


The rollin' stone

Some believe the third verse's second line and moss grows fat on a rollin' stone is a reference to The Rolling Stones (see below). However, given that Bob Dylan is the main subject of the third verse, the phrase is taken from the title of Dylan's 1965 hit about himself, "Like a Rolling Stone". The line is a play on words on the proverb that "a rolling stone gathers no moss", but McLean says the stone grew moss by 1970 — a criticism of Dylan's relative, post-1966 motorcycle crash inertness, and diminished daring, creative energy and intensity. From the vantage point of 1970, McLean notes Dylan's decline in the third line: But that's not how it used to be. The moss that grew fat around Dylan may represent all the musicians who prospered by performing Dylan's 1962-1965 songs like "Blowin' In The Wind", "Mr. Tambourine Man", "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right", "Like A Rolling Stone", and numerous others (see Bob Dylan), or the royalties Dylan earned from other performers' efforts. The Rolling Stones are an English band that rose to prominence during the British Invasion of the 1960s. ... Like a Rolling Stone is a song by Bob Dylan, from the album Highway 61 Revisited. ... The proverb a rolling stone gathers no moss is often credited to the Sententiae of Publilius Syrus, and roughly translates as The saying may not be authentic to Syrus; the Latin form usually given, Saxum volutum non obducitur musco, does not appear in the edited texts of Publilius Syrus, but... Blowin in the Wind is a song written by Bob Dylan in April 1962, and released on his 1963 album The Freewheelin Bob Dylan. ... Mr. ... Dont Think Twice, Its All Right is a song by Bob Dylan, written in 1963 and released on the album The Freewheelin Bob Dylan. ... Like a Rolling Stone is a song by Bob Dylan, from the album Highway 61 Revisited. ... Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, musician and poet whose enduring contributions to American song are often compared, in fame and influence, to those of Stephen Foster, Irving Berlin, Woody Guthrie, and Hank Williams. ...


The Beatles

Lennon and Marx

The third verse ends with the following lines:

And while Lenin read a book on Marx, the quartet practiced in the park
And we sang dirges in the dark the day the music died."
John Lennon in 1964.
John Lennon in 1964.

A historically consistent interpretation of the lyrics is that the quartet that practiced separately from the Marx-reading John Lennon on February 3, 1959, was a band of teenagers known as The Les Stewart Quartet that included George Harrison [8]. The Quartet practiced to open the Casbah Club in the summer of 1959 [9]. The Casbah Club was a Liverpool social club for teenagers, run by Mona Best, the mother of Pete Best. Harrison joined the Quartet because he was freed when his previous band, The Quarry Men that included founder, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney, broke-up in January 1959. (The Beatles are linked to Buddy Holly because, in 1958, The Quarry Men that included Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison, and two others, produced the pre-Beatles trio's first ever recording — a demo that included an arrangement of "That'll Be The Day". In addition, The Beatles name was also an imitation of The Crickets name [10].) However, The Les Stewart Quartet proved unstable, losing two members (Les Stewart and Ken Brown) who were replaced by Lennon and McCartney. The Quartet was recomposed as The Quarry Men, and its first performance was at the opening of the Casbah Club on August 29, 1959. Groucho and Me, Groucho Marx's humorous autobiography, was published in 1959. McLean may have imagined the eighteen year-old John Lennon reading the book after the break-up of his band in January. The "park" is likely the Casbah Club, as it was located at 8 Heyman's Green, West Derby, Liverpool [11]. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin ( Russian: Влади́мир Ильи́ч Ле́нин  listen?), original surname Ulyanov (Улья́нов) ( April 22 (April 10 ( O.S.)), 1870 – January 21, 1924), was a Russian revolutionary, the leader of the Bolshevik party, the first Premier of the Soviet Union, and the founder of the ideology of Leninism. ... Marx is a common German surname. ... Image File history File links PDjohn_lennon. ... Image File history File links PDjohn_lennon. ... George Harrison, MBE (February 24, 1943 – November 29, 2001) was a popular British guitarist, singer, songwriter, record producer, and film producer, best known as a member of The Beatles. ... Mona Best was born in India. ... The Beatles, early 1962: (l-r) Pete, George, Paul and John. ... The Quarry Men were a little-known skiffle group formed around Liverpool, England in March 1957 by John Lennon. ... Thatll Be The Day by Buddy Holly and The Crickets is credited as being written by Allison, (this being Jerry Allison the drummer with the group), Holly, (the lead guitarist and vocalist) and Petty, (Norman Petty being the manager). ... People who may be referred to as Ken Brown include: President of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution: Kenneth P. Brown, Jr. ... Julius Henry Marx, known as Groucho Marx (October 2, 1890 – August 19, 1977), was an American comedian, working both with his siblings, the Marx Brothers, and on his own. ...

Karl Marx
Karl Marx

As alternatives, the quartet is often believed to be The Beatles, though, this is inconsistent with the lyric because The Beatles quartet included John Lennon. The Beatles, however, did perform as a quintet consisting of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Pete Best, and Chas Newby (substituting for Stuart Sutcliffe) at the Casbah Club in December 1960, after the group (that included Sutcliffe) performed for several months in Hamburg, Germany [12]. In this case, McLean might be alluding to Germany, since Marx could mean Karl Marx, a German, and meaning that Lennon read about communism, creating a pun for the political theory Marxist-Leninism. In 1970, Lennon released the song "Working Class Hero", which included allusions to communist themes, such as the line[we're] doped on religion, sex and TV, a reference to Karl Marx' dictum that "religion is the opiate of the masses". Karl Marx This image is in the public domain in the United States and possibly other jurisdictions. ... Karl Marx This image is in the public domain in the United States and possibly other jurisdictions. ... The Beatles were an English pop and rock music group from Liverpool, who continue to be held in the very highest regard for their artistic achievements, their huge commercial success, and their ground-breaking role in the history of popular music. ... John Winston Ono Lennon, MBE (October 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980) was an iconic 20th century composer and singer of popular music with Paul McCartney as Lennon-McCartney throughout the 1960s, and was the founding member of The Beatles. ... Stuart Fergusson Victor Sutcliffe (June 23, 1940 – April 10, 1962) was an artist who, until his sudden death, worked in a style related to Abstract Expressionism. ... Karl Heinrich Marx (May 5, 1818, Trier, Germany – March 14, 1883, London) was an immensely influential German philosopher, political economist, and socialist revolutionary. ... This article is about communism as a form of society and as a political movement. ... Marxism-Leninism, strictly speaking, refers to the version of Marxist theory developed by Vladimir Lenin; see Leninism. ... Working Class Hero is a song from John McPeniss first post-Beatles solo album, 1970s John McPenis/Plastic Ono Band. ...


Practicing "in the park" could also have several possible alternative meanings. "Park" as a reference to a stadium could refer to any number Beatles' performances, including the August 15, 1965, show in Shea Stadium (originally supposed to be called Flushing Meadow Park) [13], or The Beatles' last public concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California on August 29, 1966; or to England or Europe where The Beatles "practiced" before first coming to America in 1964. Telstra Stadium in Sydney, Australia is capable of being converted from a rectangular football field to an oval for cricket games A modern stadium (plural stadiums or stadia in English) is a place, or venue, for (mostly) outdoor sports, concerts or other events, consisting of a field or stage partly... William A. Shea Municipal Stadium usually shortened to Shea Stadium, is a baseball stadium in Flushing, New York. ... Monster Park (colloquially, The Stick or Candlestick, after its original name of Candlestick Park) is an outdoor sports and entertainment stadium located in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. ...


Helter skelter
Charles Manson
Charles Manson

The fourth verse begins with Helter skelter in a summer swelter. "Helter Skelter" is a Beatles song that was released in two versions on two albums. The "summer swelter" may allude to The Beatles' efforts during the summer of 1968 to record different versions of the song: one session to record a single over 27 minutes long and an edited version appearing on the 1996 The Beatles Anthology, Volume III; and another two day long session that included eighteen takes of approximately five minutes each to create the 1968 White Album. The strain of the second session earned Ringo Starr blistered and bleeding fingers. Image File history File links Original mugshot; government owned File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links Original mugshot; government owned File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... This article is about the Beatles song. ... The Beatles Anthology is the name of a documentary series, a series of three albums and a book which focus on the history of the popular rock band The Beatles. ...


The "summer swelter" may also or alternatively refer to the August 1969 Tate/LaBianca murders. The mastermind behind the killings, Charles Manson, claimed "Helter Skelter" inspired the bloodbaths he convinced his followers to commit. Sharon Tate in Valley of the Dolls (1967) Sharon Marie Tate (January 24, 1943 – August 9, 1969) was an American film actress. ... Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary LaBianca were victims of the Charles Manson murders. ... Charles Manson. ... This article is about the Beatles song. ...


The sergeants

Some people believe the lines in the fourth verse ... while the sergeants played a marching tune / We all got up to dance, oh but we never got the chance refers to The Beatles' (the sergeants) last live concert that occurred on the last leg of their 1966 North American tour at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on August 29, because their performance lasted for only 35 minutes. The interpretation is inconsistent with The Beatles' discography because the concert pre-dates the 1967 release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Band and the album's recording sessions which started on November 24, 1966 [14]. The Beatles were an English pop and rock music group from Liverpool, who continue to be held in the very highest regard for their artistic achievements, their huge commercial success, and their ground-breaking role in the history of popular music. ...


Another interpretation of the following verse: "While sergeants played a marching tune, We all got up to dance, Oh, but we never got the chance, 'Cause the players tried to take the field, The marching band refused to yield" is that the music of the sixties was dominated by the Beatles, and for this reason other artists did not get a chance to shine.


The Byrds

The fourth verse contains the lines ... the birds flew off with a fallout shelter / Eight miles high and fallin' fast, it landed foul on the grass. "The birds" are likely the American rock group The Byrds. The fact they "flew off with a fallout shelter" refers to their huge initial success, which they owed to their arrangement of Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man". An American fallout shelter sign appears on Dylan's 1965 Bringing It All Back Home album cover containing the song. However, The Byrds popularity suffered ("falling fast") when their reputation for drug use rubbed off on their 1966 release of "Eight Miles High". Many radio stations banned the recording when some thought it was about drug consumption ("it landed foul on the grass"). The Byrds (formed in Los Angeles, California in 1964) was an American rock group. ... Mr. ... Bringing It All Back Home is an album of original songs by American musician Bob Dylan, released on March 22, 1965. ... Eight Miles High is a song by Gene Clark, Jim McGuinn, and David Crosby, first appearing as a single from 1966 by the rock band The Byrds. ...


With the fourth verse mentioning the songs "Helter Skelter" (1968) and "Eight Miles High" (1966), and 1966 as the "halftime" of the 1960s decade (1961-1970), and alluding to The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (1967), McLean addressed the period, 1966 to early 1969, since the fifth verse alludes to two music concerts that took place in the second half of 1969. The lines, The players tried for a forward pass with the jester, on the sidelines in a cast, might refer to The Byrds' less than successful bids to outdo The Beatles without Bob Dylan songs after 1966. This article is about the Beatles song. ... Eight Miles High is a song by Gene Clark, Jim McGuinn, and David Crosby, first appearing as a single from 1966 by the rock band The Byrds. ... This is about the Beatles album, for the movie based around this album, see Sgt. ...


The Woodstock generation

McLean described his own generation as being lost to drug use in the opening of the fifth verse:

Oh, and there we were all in one place, a generation lost in space
With no time left to start again.

The generation is represented by the 400,000 to 500,000 mostly young people "all in one place", the Woodstock Music and Art Fair held at White Lake, New York, August 15-19, 1969. In addition, Woodstock hosted a gamut of some of the generation's greatest music artists. Woodstock may refer to: Woodstock Music and Art Festival, a 1969 U.S. rock festival which inspired a 1970 Warner Bros. ...


"Lost in space" may have been an intentional corruption of the title of the 1967 musical "Hair" song "Walking In Space". The song vividly describes a clandestine, hallucinogenic drug experience [15]. Alternatively, the term might refer to the state of being "spaced out", i.e., dazed from the intoxicating effects of drugs. Finally, it could alternatively or also refer to the popular, campy American television science fiction series of the time, Lost in Space, about a group of space travelers, that includes a family, who lose their way and are unable find their way back home. The original poster for the show. ... Lost in Space is a science fiction TV series produced between 1965 and 1968 by television producer Irwin Allen. ...


McLean may have felt his generation permanently lost its innocence to drug use since it had "no time left to start again". The loss is represented in the verse's next lines that open a nursery rhyme to which McLean adds a perverted twist:

So, come on Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack Flash sat on a candlestick 'cause
Fire is the devil's only friend

Jack Flash, is the crazed character in the 1968 The Rolling Stones song "Jumpin' Jack Flash" [16]. McLean's adding "sat on a candlestick" to Jack Flash's list of pleasures may represent masochism. The Rolling Stones are an English band that rose to prominence during the British Invasion of the 1960s. ... Jumpin Jack Flash is a song by The Rolling Stones, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and released as a single on May 24, 1968, going to number 1 in the UK, number 3 in the US. It was recorded during the Beggars Banquet sessions, but not included on... Flogging demonstration at Folsom Street Fair 2004. ...


The Rolling Stones

Greed

The Rolling Stones are mentioned in the "American Pie", where they might be first identified in the third verse's first line: ... and moss grows, fat on a rollin' stone. This is a play on words on the traditional proverb "a rolling stone gathers no moss", and might be a criticism of the band's alleged greed, or simply a reference to the death of the band's founding member Brian Jones in 1969. Alternative interpretations counter that the rolling stone is in fact Dylan, growing fat with moss during his hiatus from touring and public appearance in the late 1960's. The Rolling Stones are an English band that rose to prominence during the British Invasion of the 1960s. ... Brian Jones (born Lewis Brian Hopkin-Jones on 28 February 1942 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England, died 3 July 1969) was a founding member, lead and rhythm guitarist and backing singer in the British rock group, The Rolling Stones. ...


The Altamont Speedway/"Gimme Shelter" concert

The fifth verse is believed to describe a December 9, 1969, free concert, organized by The Rolling Stones, at the Altamont Speedway near Livermore, California, in which The Rolling Stones, The Grateful Dead and others performed. The Stones and The Dead are identified by references to their songs, "Jumpin' Jack Flash" (1968) and "Friend of the Devil" (1970), respectively: So come on Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack Flash sat on a candlestick 'cause / Fire is the devil's only friend, though the "devil" may rather allude to The Stones' 1968 song, "Sympathy for the Devil", a more historically consistent interpretation. The concert was captured on film in the 1970 documentary named after the The Stones' 1969 song "Gimme Shelter". The "devil" is Mick Jagger, who performed "Sympathy for the Devil" that night dressed in black with a red cape before 300,000 people. "Angels born in hell" refers to members of the Hells Angels gang, who were hired to provide security. That night, gang members were beating concert goers and Marty Balin of the band Jefferson Airplane. McLean, who did not attend the concert, wrote that he was enraged: This article concerns the music festival. ... The Grateful Dead was an American psychedelia-influenced rock band formed in 1965 in San Francisco. ... Jumpin Jack Flash is a song by The Rolling Stones, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and released as a single on May 24, 1968, going to number 1 in the UK, number 3 in the US. It was recorded during the Beggars Banquet sessions, but not included on... Friend of the Devil is a song recorded by the Grateful Dead. ... This article is about a song. ... Gimme Shelter is the name of a documentary film directed by Albert and David Maysles, chronicling the Rolling Stones 1969 U.S. tour. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Marty Balin (born Martyn Jerel Buchwald on January 30, 1942, in Cincinnati, Ohio) is an American musician. ... Jefferson Airplane was an American rock band from San Francisco, a pioneer of the LSD-influenced psychedelic rock movement. ...

Oh, and as I watched him on the stage my hands were clenched in fists of rage
No angel born in hell
Could break that Satan's spell

McLean imagined the music agitating the Hells Angels into a killing frenzy that resulted in their stabbing to death the armed concert goer Meredith Hunter: And as the flames climbed high into the night to light the sacrificial rite. The murder was captured on film. Hundreds were injured in the violence. Meredith Hunter Meredith Hunter (October 24, 1951 – December 6, 1969) was stabbed to death directly in front of the stage at the Altamont Speedway rock festival during the Rolling Stones performance. ...


Janis Joplin

The final verse opens with I met a girl who sang the blues, which probably alludes to Janis Joplin, whom many consider to be the greatest white blues singer of all time. Her death through an accidental heroin overdose in October 1970, is alluded to in the third line: But she just smiled and turned away. Another possibility is jazz singer Billie Holiday who died in July 1959. Janis Lyn Joplin (January 19, 1943 – October 4, 1970) was an American blues-influenced rock singer and occasional songwriter with a distinctive voice. ... The blues is blal vaökdgohdtzkhchg cnlncgdl a vocal and instrumental form of music based on the full twelve note chromatic scale plus the microtonal intervals and a characteristic eight and twelve-bar chord progression. ... Billie Holiday photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1949 For the Canadian broadcaster, see Billie Holiday (broadcaster). ...


The Vietnam War

The draft

Some people interpret part of the fourth verse as a reference to the Vietnam War. The section reads: ... while the sergeants played a marching tune / We all got up to dance, oh but we never got the chance / 'Cause the players tried to take the field, the marching band refused to yield. The conflict could be between the U.S. government (represented by the sergeants) administering the draft and young people resisting it. The players getting up to dance (the opposite of marching) trying to take the field might represent anti-war and anti-draft protesters. The marching band refusing to yield may represent security forces such as police, troops, or national guardsmen, or America's collective refusal to withdraw from Vietnam during the 1960s. Combatants Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) United States of America South Korea Thailand Australia New Zealand the Philippines Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) National Liberation Front (Viet Cong) Strength ~1,200,000 (1968) ~420,000 (1968) Casualties South Vietnamese dead: 230,000 South Vietnamese wounded: 300,000 US dead... Conscript redirects here, but may also refer to artificial script. ...


The Kent State shootings

The concluding verse, which opens by referring to death of Janis Joplin, thus, marking 1970, the last year of the decade, contains the lines: Janis Lyn Joplin (January 19, 1943 – October 4, 1970) was an American blues-influenced rock singer and occasional songwriter with a distinctive voice. ...

And in the streets the children screamed, the lovers cried and the poets dreamed,
But not a word was spoken, the church bells all were broken.

McLean may have written these lines in response to the May 4, 1970, Ohio National Guard shootings at Kent State University that killed four and wounded nine unarmed people. One immediate aftermath of the shootings was captured by John Filo's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a fourteen-year old runaway, Mary Ann Vecchio, screaming over the body of the dead or dying student, Jeffrey Miller. The phrase "not a word was spoken" might refer to President Nixon's silence on the matter. Stanley Karnow noted in his Vietnam: A History that "The [Nixon] administration initially reacted to this event with wanton insensitivity. Nixon's press secretary, Ron Ziegler, whose statements were carefully programmed, referred to the deaths as a reminder that 'when dissent turns to violence, it invited tragedy.'" (Ziegler's reference to violence included the burning of the Kent State University ROTC Building by protesters on May 2.) While demonstrations against the shootings broke out in hundreds of college campuses across the United States, McLean may have felt that the students were on their own without leadership, as the "church bells" of the time, possibly the Chicago Seven, involved in leading the anti-war protests during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, were silenced. On February 20, 1970, five of the Chicago Seven were sentenced to five-year prison terms and fined $5000. (The judgments were reversed on appeal in November 1972.) The broken church bells may also refer to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy who were opponents of the War. Both were assassinated in 1968. Mary Ann Vecchio kneels over the body of Jeffrey Miller The Kent State shootings occurred at Kent State University, Ohio, and involved the shooting of students by the National Guard on May 4, 1970. ... Kent State University (also known as Kent State or KSU) is an institution of higher learning located in Kent, Ohio, which is about 40 miles southeast of Cleveland, 12 miles east of Akron, and 30 miles west of Youngstown. ... Mary Ann Vecchio kneels over the body of Jeffrey Miller John Paul Filo (Natrona Heights, PA) photographed the 1971 Pulitzer Prize winning photo of a 14-year-old runaway girl (Mary Ann Vecchio), crying while kneeling over the body of 20-year-old Jeffrey Miller, one of the victims of... Filos Photograph Mary Ann Vecchio (now Gillum) was the subject of a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph by photojournalism-student John Filo in the aftermath of the Kent State shootings on May 4, 1970. ... Mary Ann Vecchio kneels over the body of Jeffrey Miller in this famous photo by John Filo Jeffrey Glenn Miller was a student at Kent State University, Ohio, when he was shot and killed by Ohio National Guardsmen in the Kent State shootings on May 4, 1970, while protesting the... Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913 – April 22, 1994) was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. ... Stanley Karnow is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who covered Asia from 1959 as chief correspondent for Time and Life. ... The Chicago Seven were seven (originally eight, at which point they were known as the Chicago Eight) defendants charged with conspiracy, inciting to riot, and other charges related to violent protests that took place in Chicago, Illinois on the occasion of the 1968 Democratic National Convention. ... Martin Luther King Jr. ... RFK redirects here. ...

Preceded by:
"Brand New Key" by Melanie
Billboard Hot 100 number one single (Don McLean version)
February 12, 1972
Succeeded by:
"Let's Stay Together" by Al Green

Melanie (1977) Melanie Ann Safka-Schekeryk (usually known professionally simply as Melanie) is an American singer-songwriter. ... The Billboard Hot 100 is the United States music industry standard singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. ... This is a list of number-one hits in the United States by year from the Billboard Hot 100. ... February 12 is the 43rd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1972 (MCMLXXII) was a leap year starting on Saturday. ... ... Al Green may refer to: Al Green (musician) Al Green (politician) This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ...

Covers and parodies

"American Pie"
American Pie cover
Single by Madonna
from the album The Next Best Thing Soundtrack
Released February 2000
Format CD single, CD maxi single, Cassette single, 7" single, 12" maxi single
Genre Pop
Length 4:32
Label Maverick, Warner Brothers
Producer(s) Madonna, William Orbit
Chart positions
Madonna singles chronology
"Beautiful Stranger"
(1999)
"American Pie"
(2000)
"Music"
(2000)

The epic length and deeply personal nature of the song has made it largely resistant to cover versions; a few attempts have been made, however, first and most bizarrely by The Brady Bunch in 1972. Ska band Catch 22 made a reggae version of the song a staple of their live show and released several recordings of it; alternative rock band Killdozer recorded a thrashing, ironic version of the song in 1989. Additionally, several disco versions have appeared over the years. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (720x720, 138 KB)American Pie is the single by singer Madonna from The Next Best Thing Soundtrack, released in 2000. ... A collection of various CD singles In music, a single is a short record, usually featuring one or two tracks as A-side, often accompanied by several B-sides, usually remixes or other songs. ... Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone (born August 16, 1958) is an American pop singer, dancer and actress. ... The Next Best Thing is a 2000 comedy/drama film starring Rupert Everett, Madonna and Benjamin Bratt. ... A CD single is a music single in the form of a compact disc. ... A CD Single is a music single in the form of a compact disc. ... Insert from the Winter cassette single by Tori Amos The cassette single was a music recording format that debuted in the 80s. ... In music, a single is a short record, usually featuring one or two tracks as A-side, often accompanied by several B-sides, usually remixes or other songs. ... In music, a single is a short (usually ten minutes or less) record, usually featuring one or two tracks as A-side, often accompanied by several B-sides, usually remixes or other songs. ... A music genre is a category (or genre) of pieces of music that share a certain style or basic musical language (van der Merwe 1989, p. ... For Popular music (music that is popular, rather than of a specific genre or style), see Popular music. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Maverick Records is a record label owned by the Warner Music Group and distributed through Warner Brothers Records. ... Warner Brothers Records is a record label which was launched on March 19, 1958 by Warner Bros. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone (born August 16, 1958) is an American pop singer, dancer and actress. ... William Orbit 1999 William Orbit (sometimes written as William Ørbit, born on 30 July 1956, as William Wainwright) is a British musician and record producer, best known to the public for producing Madonnas album Ray of Light, which received two Grammy-awards. ... A record chart, also known as a music chart, is a method of ranking music according to popularity during a given period of time. ... Motto: (traditional) In God We Trust (official, 1956–present) Anthem: The Star-Spangled Banner Capital Washington, D.C. Largest city New York City Official language(s) None at the federal level; English de facto Government Federal Republic  - President George W. Bush (R)  - Vice President Dick Cheney (R) Independence - Declared - Recognized... Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone (born August 16, 1958) is an American pop singer, dancer and actress. ... Beautiful Stranger is a song by American singer Madonna from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me Soundtrack. ... Music is a song by American singer Madonna from her 2000 album Music. ... In popular music a cover version is a new rendition (performance or recording) of a previously recorded song. ... The Brady Bunch is an American television situation comedy, based around a large blended family. ... Ska is a form of Jamaican music which began as early as the 1930s. ... Catch 22 is a third-wave ska band from East Brunswick, New Jersey. ... The terms alternative rock and alternative music[1] were coined in the 1980s to describe punk rock-inspired bands which didnt fit into the mainstream genres of the time. ... Killdozer was the name of a band formed in 1984, with members Bill Hobson, Dan Hobson and Michael Gerald. ... Disco is a genre of music that originated in discothèques. ...


In 1999, parodist "Weird Al" Yankovic did a Star Wars-inspired lyrical adaptation of "American Pie" entitled "The Saga Begins" in which the lyrics recount the whole plot of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace through the eyes of Obi-Wan Kenobi. While McLean gave permission for the parody, he did not make a cameo appearance in its video, despite popular rumour. However, he has stated that at live shows he almost starts singing Yankovic's lyrics, due to his grandchildren playing the song so often. Alfred Matthew Weird Al Yankovic (born October 23, 1959) is an American musician best known for his parodies of contemporary radio hits throughout the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. ... The cover of the 2004 DVD widescreen release of the modified original Star Wars Trilogy. ... The Saga Begins is a parody by Weird Al Yankovic, released from the 1999 album Running With Scissors. ... Film poster for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is a 1999 film by George Lucas starring Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, and Jake Lloyd. ... Obi-Wan Ben Kenobi (57 – 0 BBY) is a fictional character in the Star Wars universe. ...


Recently, on the Harry Potter website, Mugglenet, featured a parody of American Pie. It was released in their editorial "The U-Bend" and was a summary of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince entitled Half-Blood Pie. A fan recorded their lyrics and it was put on the site and can be heard here. Cover of the first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone Harry Potter is a popular, commercially successful series of fantasy novels by British writer J. K. Rowling. ... This article is about the book. ...


Madonna

"American Pie" was covered by American singer Madonna for the soundtrack to the film The Next Best Thing. The cover was co-produced by Madonna and William Orbit, after Rupert Everett (Madonna's co-star in The Next Best Thing) had convinced her to cover the song for the film's soundtrack. Her version of the song is shorter than the original, and contains influences of dance music. Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone (born August 16, 1958) is an American pop singer, dancer and actress. ... The Next Best Thing is a 2000 comedy/drama film starring Rupert Everett, Madonna and Benjamin Bratt. ... William Orbit 1999 William Orbit (sometimes written as William Ørbit, born on 30 July 1956, as William Wainwright) is a British musician and record producer, best known to the public for producing Madonnas album Ray of Light, which received two Grammy-awards. ... Rupert James Hector Everett (born May 29, 1959) is an English actor. ... Dance music is music composed, played, or both, specifically to accompany social dancing. ...


It was released as the soundtrack's first and only single in February 2000 (see 2000 in music) and was a number-one hit in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, Italy and Finland. The single was not released commercially in the United States, but it reached number twenty-nine on the Billboard Hot 100 due to strong radio airplay. "American Pie" was included as a bonus track on all non-U.S. editions of Madonna's album Music, released later in 2000. According to Madonna, she was talked into adding the song to the album by an executive at Warner Brothers Records. A collection of various CD singles In music, a single is a short record, usually featuring one or two tracks as A-side, often accompanied by several B-sides, usually remixes or other songs. ... // Events John Tavener is knighted in the New Years Honours List. ... The Billboard Hot 100 is the United States music industry standard singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. ... One of the four special edition album covers. ... Warner Brothers Records is a record label which was launched on March 19, 1958 by Warner Bros. ...


Remixes of the song were produced by Richard "Humpty" Vission and Victor Calderone. The single's video, directed by Philip Stolzl, features Madonna dancing in front of a large American flag. Shots of interracial families standing together for a family portrait, lesbians embracing, and a gay male couple kissing are shown in between shots of Madonna. Rupert Everett makes a cameo appearance in the video, with Madonna sitting on his lap. Richard Humpty Vission is a prolific house music producer, remixer and DJ born May 24, 1973 in Toronto, Canada. ... Victor Calderone, born in Brooklyn New York, is a house music producer who is one of the best-known and most in-demand remixers and nightclub DJs in dance music today. ... A music video (also promo) is a short film or video that accompanies a complete piece of music, most commonly a song. ...

Madonna
Discography | Albums | Singles | Videography | Tours | Filmography | Achievements/awards | Bibliography | Trivia | Unreleased songs | Controversies

Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone (born August 16, 1958) is an American pop singer, dancer and actress. ... This page includes the discography of Madonna. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... This page includes the singles chart performance of Madonna. ... This page includes the videography of Madonna. ... 1985 The Virgin Tour 1987 Whos That Girl Tour 1990 Blond Ambition Tour 1993 The Girlie Show Tour 2001 Drowned World Tour 2004 The Re-Invention Tour ... This is a chronologically-ordered list of films in which Madonna has appeared. ... This page includes the achievements and awards of pop artist, Madonna. ... // Madonna: The Author The English Roses cover In recent years, Madonna has become a very successful author. ... // Trivia Her birthname is Madonna Louise Ciccone. ... Songs recorded by Madonna but were chosen not to be used on her Warner Bros. ... Pop Singer Madonna has proven to have numerous controversies during her career, from the performance at the first MTV Video Music Awards to her hanging on a cross during her Confessions Tour. ...

References

For other meanings of DJ, see DJ (disambiguation). ... Dinah Shore (born Frances Rose Shore, February 29, 1916 – February 24, 1994) was an American singer, actress and talk show host. ... Mick Jagger, 1995 Sir Michael Philip Mick Jagger (born 26 July 1943) is an English rock musician, actor, songwriter, record and film producer and businessman. ... This article concerns the music festival. ... Hells Angels logo (Smithsonian Institution) The Hells Angels (without an apostrophe), was formed in 1948 in Fontana, California (where the local chapter remains active), taking the name of the movie Hells Angels based on the Royal Flying Corps directed by Howard Hughes. ... Stanley Karnow is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who covered Asia from 1959 as chief correspondent for Time and Life. ...

External links

  • Lyrics at Lyriki
  • The Straight Dope author Cecil Adams published an interpretation of the lyrics based on a supposed interview of McLean by DJ Casey Kasem in his May 14 column of 1993. McLean later confirmed the Buddy Holly reference in a letter to Adams but denied ever speaking to Kasem. [17]
  • Rareexception.com- Another interpretation of "American Pie".

  Results from FactBites:
 
Understanding American Pie - Interpretation of Don Mclean's epic song to the passing of an era. (491 words)
But this was no ordinary song, either: boldly original and thematically ambitious, what set American Pie apart had a lot to do with the way we weren't entirely sure what the song was about, provoking endless debates over its epic cast of characters.
But however open to interpretation the lyrics may have been, the song's emotional resonance was unmistakable: McLean was clearly relating a defining moment in the American experience—something had been lost, and we knew it.
It is across this decade that the American cultural landscape changed radically, passing from the relative optimism and conformity of the 1950s and early 1960s to the rejection of these values by the various political and social movements of the mid and late 1960s.
American Pie (song) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (6438 words)
In the song's fifth verse, McLean is at odds with the cultural and musical trends represented by Woodstock, which took place in his native New York in 1969, and conveys his disgust with The Rolling Stones (1968-1969).
"American Pie" includes a number of Christian religious elements that includes an allusion to Jesus wearing his Crown of Thorns; and the mentioning of "angels born in hell", the Trinity, Satan, and titles of two songs with lyrics that allude to God.
The desolation in the song's last lines, And in the streets the children screamed, the lovers cried, and the poets dreamed, / But not a word was spoken, the church bells all were broken, and the Trinity's subsequent departure or retreat, is interpreted as the Trinity's defeat.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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