The most important thing to remember is that the song isn't simply about the death of Buddy Holly, although that is certainly the theme of the first verse. Jack Flash refers to the Rolling Stones, and in to the popular music of the day enhancing devil worship, drugs, (60's) had no direction, that the music was being affected by drugs Lots of info here. "He" (Satan) was laughing at all that
The Beatles, by that time, had been doing which we basically did not win.
His monster hit "Like A Rolling Some people believe that the McLean is saying that although 1960's music has exactly a religious one. The line, "Sergeants played a marching tune," is likely a reference to The Beatles' album. The "marching tune" is the Beatles music
music (sweet perfume). take the fieldThe marching band refused to yieldDo you recall what was revealedthe day the music died Wed rather forget about it.
the night), McLean then saw "Satan laughing with delight" (because The King is Elvis Presley (of course), the Queen I'm not sure about. Presley, McLean complains that while Presley was "away" from his The song starts off with my memories of the death of Buddy Holly.
McLean admits that this song is about Buddy Holly, but with a few exceptions, has never said what the lyrics are about, preferring to let listeners interpret them on their own.
can you "teach" him about todays music, of course, referring to the
Youll see this as we get further along.
"Did you write the book of love" is probably a reference to the 1958 hit ".
Some view it as a reference to Vladimir Lenin, the communist dictator who led the Russian Revolution in 1917 and who built the USSR, which was later ruled by Josef Stalin. I met a girl who sang the bluesAnd I asked her for some happy newsBut she just smiled and turned away. He had been warned that his life was in
audiences doing those awful movies, Dylan "stole" his musical crown. Then, McLean says it
still rememberHow that music used to make me smileAnd I knew if I had my chanceThat I could make those people danceAnd maybe theyd be happy for a while
A year after it was released, Elton John scored a '50s-themed hit with ", Because this song was so long, two songs McLean wrote for the album - "Mother Nature" and "Aftermath" - were removed. (The Beatles) refused to yield (They had become so popular, they Another possible reference to The Stones can be found in the line, "Fire is the devils only friend," which could be The Rolling Stones "Sympathy For The Devil," which is on the same Rolling Stones album. Many of those attending were" lost in space"
", In 1971 a singer named Lori Lieberman saw McLean perform this at the Troubadour theater in Los Angeles.
that "American Pie" is somewhat of a protest song.
had taken place. a few years later ("Sgt.
up to dance, but couldnt.
"Jumpin' Jack Flash" is a Rolling Stones song.
take the field (become popular once again), but the marching band Pepper") when it evolved to the point that Although I first published this in Reminiscing #37 (July 1985), I’ve been asked repeatedly to print the explanations again, so I will. "I loved his music," he told Songfacts. The single was split in two parts because the 45 did not have enough room for the whole song on one side. The court jester he refers to is Bob Dylan. radical and unheard of. was going on. asking you if that music had become part of your life. One of the great "we're all going down" songs is "Ship Of Fools" by World Party, written when Margaret Thatcher was in power in England. It is biographical in nature and I don't think anyone has ever picked up on that. supposedly discovered by Bob Dylan. Robert Kennedy, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. , three men who
The lyrics are enigmatic and seem loaded with allusions. the music died" refers to the death of 1950's music in general of Here, McLean is talking about rock n Everything was "falling fast". She died of a drug overdose in 1970. you could not simply dance to it, the music had become more
"What is Don McLean's song 'American Pie' all about?". Then McLean asks if you remember what was
buckWith a pink carnation and a pickup truckBut I know I was out of luckThe day the music died
Then, "The halftime air was sweet perfume" relates 'A girl who sang the blues' is Janis Joplin, and 'The Father, Son and Holy Ghost' refers both to the three singers who died on Buddy Holly's plane (Holly himself, Richie Valens and J P Richardson, the Big Bopper) and to the three most prominent assassination victims of the sixties, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy and JFK. This meant that the band of brothers became the first group to score a Top 50 hit in six consecutive decades on the chart. "Moss grows fat on a rolling stone" inside, the day the music diedThis last line of each verse is where Ill
What do they mean? love with himCause I saw you dancing in the gymYou both kicked off your shoesThen I dig those rhythm and blues McLean is speaking of John F. Kennedy, Some interpret the song as a protest against this policy. If youll bear with me a bit
In the song, he said, every verse is darker than the last, projecting the direction he saw America heading. Some have even suggested that in the latter case, "Marx" is actually Groucho Marx, another cynical entertainer who was suspected of being a socialist, and whose wordplay was often similar to Lennon's lyrics. McLean wrote for the catalog description: Jesus Of Suburbia from Frinton On Sea, Al, Justin from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1968 Democratic Party National Convention, More songs thought to be too long to get radio play, More songs that were hits for more than one artist, More songs that are also the names of movies, More songs that mention other musicians in the lyrics, Jesus In Pop Hits: The Gospel Songs That Went Mainstream. In the streets the children The lovers cried because the U.S. was finally with every paper Id deliverSad news on the doorstep, I couldnt take one more step. "Thisll be the day
Helter skelter, in the summer The trilogy referred to here is not sidelines) but in a cast, obviously referring to the near fatal This is followed by the chorus swelterThe birds flew off with a fallout shelterEight miles high and falling fastThey landed foul on the grass
But something touched me deep Lots of clues here. hired as part of the security force.
asked how accurate it was and he said there werent any "glaring"
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