testing, ignore *********** REPLY SEPARATOR *********** On 4/18/2002 at 9:45 PM Ron Allen wrote: >Testing. Please ignore. > >***** >Don McLean's "American Pie", a Line-By-Line Analysis > >Drawn from "The Annotated American Pie", a compilation of Usenet posts on >the subject since 1983, posted by Rich Kulawiec. None of the material here >is original to me, and I make no claim to it. This is being passed on >mainly because I like the song and find this analysis fascinating. > >The format of this posting is in the form of the lyrics to the song >beginning with a bracket ([) followed by blocks of text decribing what the >lyrics may be (in many cases almost certainly are) referring to. It should >be noted that Don McLean refuses to confirm or deny any of the speculation >about the meaning of specific lyrics of "American Pie". > >The entire song is a tribute to Buddy Holly and a commentary on how Rock >and Roll changed in the years since his death. It seems to be a lament >about the move away from "danceable" music in Rock and Roll and attributes >that move to the absence of Holly's influence. > >---- begin analysis ---- > > [A long, long time ago > >American Pie reached #1 in the US in 1972. Buddy Holly died in 1959. > > [I can still remember how > [That music used to make me smile > [And I knew that if I had my chance > [That I could make those people dance > [And maybe they'd be happy for awhile > >One of Rock and Roll's early functions was to provide dance music for >various social events. McLean recalls his desire to become a musician >playing that kind of music. > > [But February made me shiver > >Buddy Holly died on February 3, 1959, in a plane crash in Iowa during a >snow storm. > > [With every paper I'd deliver > >Don McLean's only job other than professional singer-songwriter was being a >paperboy. > > [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 > >Holly's recent bride was pregnant when the crash took place, and she had a >miscarriage shortly thereafter. > > [But something touched me deep inside > [The day the music died > >The same plane crash that killed Buddy Holly also killed 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". > > [So bye bye Miss American Pie > >The plane that crashed was named "American Pie". > > [Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry > [Them good ol' boys were drinkin whiskey and rye > [Singing "This'll be the day that I die, > [This'll be the day that I die" > >One of Holly's hits was "That'll be the Day", the chorus of which contains >the line "That'll be the day <pause> that I die". > > [Did you write the book of love > >"The Book of Love", a hit by the Monotones in 1958 > > [And do you have faith in God above > [If the Bible tells you so > >"The Bible Tells Me So", song by Don Cornell, 1955 Could also be a >reference to the Sunday School song which goes, "Jesus loves me this I >know, for the Bible tells me so". However... > >Don McLean is a deeply religious person, this much is acknowledged fact. >Throughout this song there are religious references, as wells as references >to music, Rock and Roll in particular, being something of a God-figure or >symbol. > > [Now do you believe in Rock and Roll? > >The Lovin' Spoonful had a hit in 1965 with John Sebastian's "Do You Believe >in Magic". The song has the line, "Do you believe in magic/it's like trying >to tell a stranger about Rock and Roll". > > [Can music save your mortal soul > [And can you teach me how to dance real slow? > >Dancing slow was an important part of early Rock and Roll dance events, but >declined in importance throughout the 60's as things such as psychedelia >and the ten-minute guitar solo gained prominence. > > [Well I know that you're in love with him > ['Cause I saw you dancing in the gym > >In the early days of Rock and Roll, dancing was an expression of love and >carried a connotation of committment. Dance partners were not as readily >exchanged as they would be later. > > [You both kicked off your shoes > >A reference to the "sock hop", typically a school dance event held in the >gymnasium. Sneakers were not the fashion staple they are today, and the >street shoes of the day would mar and damage the gymnasium floor. Dancers >had to take off their shoes and dance in their socks to prevent such >damage. > > [Man I dig those Rhythm 'n Blues > >A little history: before the popularity of Rock and Roll, music, like most >everything in the US, was highly segregated. The popular music of black >performers for largely black audiences was called, first, "race music" >which was later softened to Rhythm and Blues. In the early 50's, as they >were exposed to it through radio personalities such as Allan Freed, white >teenagers began listening too. Starting about 1954, a number of songs from >the Rythm and Blues charts began appearing on the overall popular charts as >well, usually in cover versions by established white artists (Examples: >"Shake rattle and Roll", Joe Turner covered by Bill Haley; "Sh-Boom", The >Chords covered by The Crew-Cuts; "Sincerely", The Moonglows covered by The >McGuire Sisters; "Tweedle Dee", LaVerne Baker covered by Georgia Gibbs). By >1955, some of the Rythm and Blues artists, like Fats Domino and Little >Richard, were able to get records on the overall pop charts. In 1956, Sun >Records added elements of Country and Western to produce the kind of Rock >and Roll that produced Buddy Holly. > > [I was a lonely teenaged broncin' buck > [With a pink carnation and a pickup truck > >"A White Sport Coat (and a Pink Carnation)", Marty Robbins, 1957 > > [But I knew that I was out of luck > [The day the music died > [I started singin' > [(refrain) > > [Now for ten years we've been on our own > >McLean was writing "American Pie" in the late 60's, 10 years after the >plane crash. > > [And moss grows fat on a rolling stone > >It's unclear who the "rolling stone" is. It is most likely a reference to >Bob Dylan. "Like a Rolling Stone" in 1965 was Dylan's first major hit. > >This could also refer to the stagnation of Rock and Roll in general, or >possibly to the changes in the music business in general and in Rock and >Rollers, especially with regards to the huge amounts of money some of them >were beginning to make at the time. > > [But that's not how it used to be > [When the jester sang for the King and Queen > >The jester is Bob Dylan, as becomes more clear later on. This is most >likely a reference to the Kennedys, the King and Queen of "Camelot", who >were present at a civil rights rally in Washington DC with Martin Luther >King. Bob Dylan performed at this rally. > >It's been suggested that the King is Elvis, which seems obvious, but then >who is the Queen? Speculation has been made that it could be Connie Francis >or Little Richard. However, the Kennedy explanation makes much more sense. > > [In a coat he borrowed from James Dean > >In the movie "Rebel Without a Cause", James Dean has a red windbreaker that >holds symbolic meaning throughout the film. On the cover of "The >Freewheelin' Bob Dylan", Dylan is wearing just such a red windbreaker and >is posed in a street scene similar to one seen in a well-known picture of >James Dean. > > [And a voice that came from you and me > >Bob Dylan's roots are in American Folk music. Folk music is, by definition, >the music of the masses... hence coming "from you and me". > > [Oh and while the King was looking down > [The jester stole his thorny crown > >Now the King seems to refer to Elvis, whose career was in decline while >Dylan's was ascending. The thorny crown could be the price of fame. Dylan >had said that he wanted to be as famous as Elvis, one of his early idols. > > [The courtroom was adjourned > [No verdict was returned > >The trial of the Chicago Seven (?) > > [And while Lennon read a book on Marx > >Literally, John Lennon reading about Karl Marx. Figuratively, the >introduction of radical politics into the music of The Beatles. > > [The quartet practiced in the park > >The Beatles 1964 Candlestick Park concert lasted only 35 minutes, hence >they were only practicing. > > [And we sang dirges in the dark > >A dirge is a funeral or mourning song, so this likely directly lamenting >the death of Holly's style of Rock and Roll. > > [The day the music died > [We were singing... > [(refrain) > > [Helter Skelter in summer swelter > >"Helter Skelter" is a Beatles song that appears on the "white" album, made >infamous by Charles Manson who claimed that God and/or the devil was >speaking to him through that song, causing him to lead his followers in the >Tate-LoBianco murders. > >"Summer swelter" likely is a reference to "the long hot summer" of Watts. > > [The birds flew off to the fallout shelter > [Eight miles high and falling fast > >The Byrds "Eight Miles High" was on their late 1966 release "Fifth >Dimension". It was one of the first records to be widely banned because of >supposedly drug-oriented lyrics. > > [It landed foul on the grass > >One of the Byrds was busted for possession of marijuana. > > [The players tried for a forward pass > >A football metaphor, obviously, but about what? Could refer to The Rolling >Stones trying for an opening that didn't really happen until The Beatles >broke up. > > [With the jester on the sidelines in a cast > >On July 29, 1966, Bob Dylan crashed his Triumph 55 motorcycle while riding >near his home in Woodstock, NY. He spent nine months in seclusion while >recuperating from the accident. > > [Now the halftime air was sweet perfume > >Drugs, man. > > [While sergeants played a marching tune > >The Beatles again, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". The sergeants >are, of course, The Beatles, and their music called a marching tune since >it's not music for dancing. > > [We all got up to dance > [But we never got the chance > >Again, there was no music to dance to. > > ['Cause the players tried to take the field > [The marching band refused to yield > >This refers to the dominance of The Beatles on the Rock and Roll scene. For >example, The Beach Boys released "Pet Sounds" in 1966, an album which >featured some of the same sort of studio and electronic experimentation as >"Sgt. Peppers", but the album sold poorly because the Beatles release got >most of the press. The dominance of The Beatles in the Rock world led to >more "pop art" music and a dearth of traditional Rock and Roll. > > [Do you recall what was revealed > [The day the music died > [We started singing > [(refrain) > > [And there we were all in one place > >Woodstock. > > [A generation lost in space > >The "hippies" were also frequently called "the lost generation". A common >term for being under the influence of drugs was "spaced out". > > [With no time left to start again > >"The lost generation's" preference for psychedelia had pushed Rock and Roll >so far from Holly's music that it couldn't be retrieved. > > [So come on Jack be nimble Jack be quick > [Jack Flash sat on a candlestick > ['Cause fire is the devils only friend > >It's possible that "Jack" is Jack Kennedy. The previous four lines could >refer to the Cuban missile crisis, with the "candlestick" representing >ICBMs and nuclear war. > >However, it's also possible that "Jack" is Mick Jagger of The Rolling >Stones. The Stones released "Jumpin' Jack Flash" in May, 1968, and did hold >a concert at Candlestick Park. This would also make sense as a prelude to >the next four lines. > > [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 Altamont Speedway in 1968, the Stones appointed >members of the Hell's Angels to work security (on the advice of The >Grateful Dead). 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 that song from their show for the >next six years. > >The last seven lines could, as a whole, be commenting on how The Rolling >Stones put the final spadeful of dirt on the grave of Holly's Rock and >Roll. > > [And as the flames climbed high into the night > [To light the sacrificial rite > >This could be referring to Jimi Hendrix burning his Stratocaster at the >Monterey Pop Festival. Hendrix' drug-related death could be the >"sacrificial rite", i.e. that drugs were the rite of passage for "the lost >generation" and they sacrificed not only Holly's kind of music in the >process but also, frequently, their lives. > > [I saw Satan laughing with delight > [The day the music died > [He was singing... > [(refrain) > > [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 > >Joplin died of a drug overdose on October 4, 1970. This follows logically >from the previous verse. > > [I went down to the sacred store > [Where I'd heard the music years before > >The sacred store likely means the record store. Early in the song, McLean >asks "Can music save your mortal soul?", thus record stores would be sacred >places. In Holly's time, it was standard practice for record stores to >allow customers to preview records in the store. > > [But the man there said the music wouldn't play > >Two meanings: First, that no one was listening to Holly's music anymore and >that kind of Rock and Roll was unavailable at the record stores. Second, by >the time "American Pie" was being written, record stores had discontinued >the practice of previewing records in the store (music previews in the >store has since resurfaced). > > [And in the streets the children screamed > >The many protests of the 60's and the "flower children" being beaten by the >police and National Guard troops. > > [The lovers cried and the poets dreamed > >The trend towards psychedelia and away from Holly's style of music. > > [But not a word was spoken > [The church bells were all broken > >This refers to the dead musicians; like broken bells, they can't produce >any more music. > > [And the three men I admire most > [The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost > >Holly, The Big Bopper, and Valens. > > [They caught the last train for the coast > [The day the music died > >Obviously, this means that on "the day the music died", Holly/Bopper/Valens >left the scene. > > [And they were singing... > [(refrain x2) > >---- end analysis ---- > >Some further notes: > >"Killing Me Softly With His Song", Roberta Flack's Grammy Award-winning >single of 1973, was written by Charles Gimble and Norman Fox about McLean. > >The Big Bopper's real name was J.P. Richardson. He was a DJ for a Texas >radio station who had one very big novelty hit, "Chantilly Lace". There was >a fourth person who was going to ride the plane. The fourth person lost -- >or perhaps won would be more appropriate -- a coin toss with Richardson to >see who would get to fly to the next destination and who would have to use >other transportation. That fourth person was Waylon Jennings, and to this >day he refuses to talk about the crash. > >About "the coat he borrowed from James Dean": James Dean's red windbreaker >is important throughout the film "Rebel Without A Cause", not just at the >end. When he put it on, it meant that it was time to face the world, time >to do what he thought had to be done, and other melodramatic but thoroughly >enjoyable stuff like that. Dean's impact on American youth culture at the >time was similar to Dylon's. Both were a symbol for the youth of their >time, a reminder that they had something to say and that they demanded to >be listened to. > > >- Users can unsubscribe from this list by sending email to >24hoursupport-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'unsubscribe' in the >Subject field OR by logging into the Web interface. *********** REPLY SEPARATOR *********** - Users can unsubscribe from this list by sending email to 24hoursupport-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'unsubscribe' in the Subject field OR by logging into the Web interface.