Join Listal here 
Existing members 
Login here 
Join Listal to create lists, share images, get recommendations and much more
Added by Happy Vader

on 10 Dec 2011 06:33

1573 Views 4 Comments

American Pie - Don McLean

Choose file... or enter url:
Sort by: Showing 7 items

The First Verse

People who added this item 39  Average listal rating (29 ratings) 8.2  IMDB Rating
1. American Pie - 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
The plane crash was on Feb. 3 1959

With every paper I’d deliver.
Bad news on the doorstep;
I couldn’t take one more step.

Don McLean used to work as a paperboy and he got to know about the crash while delivering papers

I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride,

Referring to Buddy Holly's wife, Maria Elena Holly

But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died.
Giving the incident a name
Happy Vader's rating:

The Chorus

People who added this item 3  Average listal rating (2 ratings) 9  IMDB Rating
2. American Pie - Don Mclean
So bye-bye, miss American pie.
Don McLean dated a Miss America candidate during the pageant - CuriosityKitty

Drove my Chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
And them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’, this’ll be the day that I die.

This’ll be the day that I die.
Could be a reference to Buddy Holly's song "That'll be the day" which also includes lyrics "that'll be the day when I die

The Second Verse

People who added this item 3  Average listal rating (2 ratings) 9  IMDB Rating
3. Don McLean - Don McLean
Did you write the book of love,
And do you have faith in God above,

A reference to the song (Who wrote) the Book of Love by The Monotones

If the Bible tells you so?
And do you believe in rock ’n 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.
A reference to the beloved sock hop - CuriosityKitty

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.

The Third Verse

People who added this item 2  Average listal rating (1 ratings) 5  IMDB Rating
4. Legendary Songs of Don Mclean - Don Mclean
Now for ten years we’ve been on our own
The end of the 60's. From 1959 to 1969
And moss grows fat on a rollin’ stone,
But that’s not how it used to be.

From the old proverb "A rolling stone gathers no moss"
When the jester sang for the king and queen,
Jester = Bob Dylan and King = Elvis Presley
Thanks to the Giraffe!
Mine: The Queen could be Joan Baez, as she was the inspiration for many of Bob Dylan's songs and was a close friend!

In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
The Rebel Without A Cause actor
And a voice that came from you and me,
Oh, and while the king was looking down,
The jester stole his thorny crown.

Bob Dylan's taking of Elvis' place!
The courtroom was adjourned;
No verdict was returned.

The JFK assassination and the trial of Lee Harvey Oswald - The Giraffe
And while Lennon read a book of Marx,
1. John Lennon-The Marx Brothers
2. Popular mondegreen is Lenin so it could be a reference to Marxism-Leninism

The quartet practiced in the park,
A reference to The Beatles.
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died.

The Fourth Verse

People who added this item 3  Average listal rating (1 ratings) 7  IMDB Rating
5. Best of Don McLean - Don Mclean
Helter skelter in a summer swelter.
Could be a reference to the Beatles song of the same name or since swelter means heat, could he be talking about the Summer of '69? or maybe the Charles Manson killings

The birds flew off with a fallout shelter,
Eight miles high and falling fast.

Could be a reference to The Byrds (the band) and Eight Miles High could be a reference to one of their most best-known songs

It landed foul on the grass.
The players tried for a forward pass,
With the jester on the sidelines in a cast.
Bob Dylan... Referring to his motorcycle incident. Thanks to The Giraffe!

Now the half-time air was sweet perfume
While the sergeants played a marching tune.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band?

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?

The Fifth Verse

Oh, and there we were all in one place,
A generation lost in space

He might be talking about Woodstock or maybe the aftermath of the assassination of JFK
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.

Reference to the Rolling Stones song Jumpin' Jack Flash
Oh, and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage.

Possibly referring to Meredith Hunter
No angel born in hell
Referring to the Hell's Angels (a biker gang) - The Giraffe
Could break that Satan’s spell.
Mick Jagger of Stones - he was singing Sympathy Of The Devil
And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite,

Could be talking about drugs
I saw Satan laughing with delight
Again, Mick Jagger and his gleeful smile
The day the music died

The Sixth Verse

People who added this item 6  Average listal rating (4 ratings) 8.8  IMDB Rating
7. American Pie [CD 1] - Madonna
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,
Many believe it that McLean is referring to the 3 who died but, being a Buddy Holly fan, many also believe he is referring to the surviving 3 members of the Crickets (Buddy Holly's band) but this is what I think:

1. The father as in The Big Bopper
2. The son as in Ritchie Valens and
3. The Holy ghost as in Buddy Holly (Holy, Holly, geddit?)

They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died.

So, that was it! I couldn't come up with much. Feedback and suggestions are welcome!


Don McLean's critically acclaimed and cryptic song, American Pie, is considered a rock classic and his magnum opus.

American Pie, off the album of the same name (1971), is about the crash of 1959 which robbed the lives of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens and Roger Peterson, the pilot. Considered by many as the single most devastating rock tragedy in history.

This song has been covered numerous times, most notably by Madonna, but none has come this close to the original. American Pie is also known for inserting the line "The Day The Music Died" into popular culture and, yes, before you ask, the dreadful American Pie movie series took their name from this song!

Now, for the reason for making this list: This song has several references to many musicians, songs and the overall atmosphere of the 60's (McLean's generation) and even to this day many people cannot come up with the actual meaning behind this song and due to this, many controversies and assumptions and even TV shows have emerged.

I'm not copy-pasting it from another site... Just pointing out the references I understand or think I understand. This is a free list and you can join in too! Don't worry about making mistakes...

Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Added to

Related lists

The "American Pie" Series
8 item list by The Cinephile
5 votes 1 comment
American Pie Film Series
8 item list by p4pz
2 votes
American Pie Worst to Best
8 item list by BAMF
1 votes
American Pie: The best and worst of
6 item list by Agent Bert Macklin
2 votes
Films in December
51 item list by Kris
4 votes 2 comments
Don't Look Back
166 item list by Onion Jack
57 votes 6 comments
Nicola McLean
17 item list by Bubs
2 votes
British Model Nicola McLean
14 item list by Root of Jesse
5 votes
Nicola McLean's Incredible Bust
30 item list by irishblue
6 votes
celebrities with pie in the face
9 item list by arom
9 votes 2 comments

View more top voted lists

People who voted for this also voted for

2010 Top Movies-GypsyDylan
Best Films of 1988
Vistos em 2011
Survivors of the 3D domination
Independence Day-Re Cast
Best remakes.
Take This Job (And Shove It!)
Evolution Of Leonardo DiCaprio
My Favorite Movie Posters-GypsyDylan
Night Films
Day Films
WHats On The I-Pod *7/26/11

More lists from Happy Vader

30 Day Movie/Game Series Meme!
Directors who tackled Stephen King - Hits & Misses
World Famous Lists!
Movies i saw in cinemas!
Horror personalities - Directors / Producers!
150 Greatest Cinema Heroes Of All Time!


Posted: 3 years, 8 months ago at Dec 11 4:40
Nicely done! Just a few things I saw...

The "jester" in the 3rd & 4th verses is Bob Dylan.

In the 3rd verse "the king" would be Elvis Presley, I believe, though the last part could refer to the Kennedy assassination.

"Helter skelter in a summer swelter" I always thought referred to the Charles Manson Family's murders, but given the focus on The Beatles their song makes sense for here too.

"And while Lennon read a book on Marx" - Marx here would be Karl Marx, and Lennon works for both John & V.I. Lenin.

The 5th verse refers to the Rolling Stones at Altamont..."no angels born in hell" = Hell's Angels. And I believe "Satan" = Mick Jagger/"Sympathy for the Devil" reference
Posted: 3 years, 8 months ago at Dec 13 0:17
One of my favorite songs. I just listen and love this song since I'm really young. Never get enough
Posted: 3 years, 8 months ago at Dec 14 1:17
Well-thought analysis, this! I should think by this point there'd be whole volumes written on the song's meaning(s), but this is pretty good too.
Posted: 3 years, 8 months ago at Jan 2 2:26
I took "History of Rock Music" in college and this was one of the songs we dissected.

"But something touched me deep inside, The day the music died."
The same plane crash that killed Buddy Holly also took the lives of Richie Valens (La Bamba) and The Big Bopper (Chantilly Lace). Since all three were so prominent at the time, February 3, 1959 became known as The Day The Music Died

"Bye bye Miss American Pie,"
Don McLean dated a Miss America candidate during the pageant

Verse 2:
"You both kicked off your shoes"
A reference to the beloved sock hop

"And moss grows fat on a rolling stone"
Dylan's 'Like a Rolling Stone' (1965) was his first major hit, and since he was busy writing songs (he didn't tour from '66 to '74) and raking in the royalties

Queen = Connie Francis or could possible be Little Richard

"The courtroom was adjourned,
No verdict was returned."
The trial of the Chicago Seven OR JFK's assassination

"The quartet practised in the park"
Believed to be a reference to the Weavers, who were blacklisted during the McCarthy era. McLean had become friends with Lee Hays of the Weavers in the early 60's while performing in coffee-houses and clubs in upstate New York and New York City

"Helter skelter in a summer swelter"
Charles Manson murders (inspired by the Beatles song on the White Album)

“Now the half-time air was sweet perfume"
1968 Democratic National Convention, the sweet perfume is tear gas

"While sergeants played a marching tune"
COULD BE: the sergeants would be the Chicago Police and the Illinois National Guard, who marched protesters out of the Convention and to jail

“We all got up to dance Oh, but we never got the chance”
The Beatles' 1966 Candlestick Park concert only lasted 35 minutes

“'Cause the players tried to take the field, The marching band refused to yield”
Kent State (I believe it’s this) OR The Monkees who weren’t a true band only a fabrication attempting to replicate The Beatles

“And there we were all in one place”

“A generation lost in space”
A reference to hippies

“So come on Jack be nimble Jack be quick”
A reference to Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones; 'Jumpin' Jack Flash' was released in May 1968

“Jack Flash sat on a candlestick”
The Stones' Candlestick park concert

“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”
While playing a concert at the Altamonte Speedway in 1969, the Stones appointed members of the Hell's Angels to work security. In the darkness near the front of the stage, a young man named Meredith Hunter was beaten and stabbed to death -- by the Angels. Public outcry that the song 'Sympathy for the Devil' had somehow incited the violence caused the Stones to drop the song from their show for the next six years

“And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite”
About Altamonte, and in particular Mick Jagger's prancing and posing while it was happening. The sacrifice is Meredith Hunter, and the bonfires around the area provide the flames

“I saw Satan laughing with delight”
Satan would be Jagger

"I met a girl who sang the blues"
Janis Joplin

"And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away"
Janis died of an accidental heroin overdose on October 4, 1970

"I went down to the sacred store
Where I'd heard the music years before"
The sacred store was Bill Graham's Fillmore West, one of the great rock and roll venues of all time

"But the man there said the music wouldn't play"
Nobody is interested in hearing the old music any longer

"And in the streets the children screamed"
Flower children being beaten by police and National Guard troops; in particular, perhaps, the People's Park riots in Berkeley in 1969 and 1970

"The lovers cried and the poets dreamed"
The trend towards psychedelic music in the 60's

"But not a word was spoken,
The church bells all were broken"
The broken bells are the dead musicians: neither can produce any more music

Login or Signup to post a comment