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American Pie
Song

American Pie

Don Mclean
Album:
American Pie

Meaning of the song American Pie by Don Mclean


"American Pie," a timeless masterpiece by singer-songwriter Don McLean, stands as an iconic and enigmatic anthem that has resonated with audiences since its release in 1971. With its poetic lyrics, catchy melodies, and profound cultural commentary, the song has become a symbol of the turbulent era it emerged from and has maintained its relevance across generations.


At the heart of "American Pie" lies the tragic event known as "The Day the Music Died." This phrase refers to the plane crash on February 3, 1959, which claimed the lives of rock 'n' roll pioneers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson. McLean uses this event as a starting point for his narrative, weaving a tapestry of nostalgia, reflection, and mourning.


The song is rich with symbolism and vivid imagery, creating a musical canvas that paints a picture of an America in transition. McLean uses allegorical elements to capture the essence of the 1960s, exploring themes of loss, disillusionment, and the shifting cultural landscape. The lyrics are open to interpretation, allowing listeners to connect with the song on a personal level while contemplating its broader societal implications.


"American Pie" is distinguished by its unforgettable chorus, featuring the famous line, "Bye, bye Miss American Pie, drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry." The catchy melody and sing-along nature of the chorus have contributed to the song's enduring popularity, making it a staple at gatherings and a favorite on classic rock radio stations.


In addition to topping the charts in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, the record was the top hit in the United States for four weeks in 1972. When the song was first released in 1971, it peaked at number two in the UK and remained there for three weeks. On the RIAA project Songs of the Century, the song was ranked as the fifth-highest tune.


Lyrics of the song American Pie by Don Mclean


A long, long time ago

I can still remember how that music used to make me smile

And I knew if I had my chance

That I could make those people dance

And maybe they'd be happy for a while

 

But February made me shiver

With every paper I'd deliver

Bad news on the doorstep

I couldn't take one more step

 

I can't remember if I cried

When I read about his widowed bride

But something touched me deep inside

The day the music died

 

So bye, bye, Miss American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry

And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey 'n rye

Singin' this'll be the day that I die

This'll be the day that I die

 

Did you write the book of love

And do you have faith in God above

If the Bible tells you so?

Now do you believe in rock and roll?

Can music save your mortal soul?

And can you teach me how to dance real slow?

 

Well, I know that you're in love with him

'Cause I saw you dancin' in the gym

You both kicked off your shoes

Man, I dig those rhythm and blues

 

I was a lonely teenage broncin' buck

With a pink carnation and a pickup truck

But I knew I was out of luck

The day the music died

 

I started singing bye, bye, Miss American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry

Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey 'n rye

Singin' this'll be the day that I die

This'll be the day that I die

 

Now for ten years we've been on our own

And moss grows fat on a rollin' stone

But that's not how it used to be

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

The courtroom was adjourned

No verdict was returned

 

And while Lennin read a book on Marx

The quartet practiced in the park

And we sang dirges in the dark

The day the music died

 

We were singing bye, bye, Miss American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry

Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey 'n rye

Singin' this'll be the day that I die

This'll be the day that I die

 

Helter skelter in a summer swelter

The birds flew off with a fallout shelter

Eight miles high and falling fast

It landed foul on the grass

The players tried for a forward pass

With the jester on the sidelines in a cast

 

Now the halftime air was sweet perfume

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

Do you recall what was revealed

The day the music died?

 

We started singing bye, bye, Miss American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry

Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey 'n rye

And singin' this'll be the day that I die

This'll be the day that I die

 

Oh, and there we were all in one place

A generation lost in space

With no time left to start again

So come on, Jack be nimble, Jack be quick

Jack Flash sat on a candlestick

'Cause fire is the devil's only friend

 

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

 

And as the flames climbed high into the night

To light the sacrificial rite

I saw Satan laughing with delight

The day the music died

 

He was singing bye, bye, Miss American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry

Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey 'n rye

And singin' this'll be the day that I die

This'll be the day that I die

 

I met a girl who sang the blues

And I asked her for some happy news

But she just smiled and turned away

I went down to the sacred store

Where I'd heard the music years before

But the man there said the music wouldn't play

 

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 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

 

And they were singing bye, bye, Miss American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry

And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey 'n rye

Singin' this'll be the day that I die

This'll be the day that I die

 

They were singing bye, bye, Miss American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry

Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey 'n rye

And singin' this'll be the day that I die

Release Date

1971

Songwriter/s

Don Mclean

Producer/s

Ed Freeman

Label/s

United Artists

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