American Pie – Don McLean

June 20, 2022

If you’re looking for an example of classic American music, look no further than the song “American Pie” by Don McLean. This track is not just a testament to the power of rock and roll; it’s also a fantastic history lesson. Specifically, this song covers the period from 1959 up until 1970, describing some of America’s greatest tragedies and triumphs throughout that time frame.

It is a perfect summary of what was going on in America as she grew into her own identity as an independent nation.

Fun Facts About American Pie

  • “American Pie” was primarily inspired by the death of the singer Buddy Holly–McLean loved his music. Therefore, the song itself is a tribute to Buddy Holly.
  • “American Pie” has been covered dozens of times, including by the likes of Madonna, Nick Ingman, and “Weird Al” Yankovic.
  • McLean wasn’t sure whether this song would be a success when he first wrote it; he was surprised that it became as successful as it did.
  • “American Pie” was the number-one US hit for 4 weeks, starting on January 15, 1972.
  • “American Pie” held the record for about 50 years for being Billboard’s longest hit (eight-and-a-half-minute) to reach number one. This record was broken by Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” in 2021.
  • Don McLean wrote “American Pie” while Ed Freeman produced the hit.

Lyrics

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

Them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye

Singing, “This’ll be the day that I die”

This will 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

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 dancing in the gym

You both kicked off your shoes

Then 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 old boys were drinking whiskey and rye

Singing, “This’ll be the day that I die”

This will be the day that I die

Now for ten years we’ve been on our own

And moss grows fat on a rolling 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 Lenin read a book of 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 old boys were drinking whiskey and rye

Singing, “This’ll be the day that I die”

This will be the day that I die

Helter skelter in the 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 old boys were drinking whiskey and rye

And singing, “This’ll be the day that I die”

This will 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 old boys were drinking whiskey and rye

And singing, “This’ll be the day that I die”

This will 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 old boys were drinking whiskey and rye

Singing, “This’ll be the day that I die”

This will 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 old boys were drinking whiskey and rye

Singing, “This’ll be the day that I die”

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