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The First Verse
American Pie - Don McLean
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:
American Pie - Don Mclean
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
Don McLean - Don McLean
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
Legendary Songs of Don Mclean - Don Mclean
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
Best of Don McLean - Don Mclean
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
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
American Pie [CD 1] - Madonna
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!
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!
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