♫ American Pie ♫

Yesterday, 03 February, I played the finale to Beatles Week, but had I recalled this very important date, I might have delayed the last song of the Beatles Week until today.  Sadly, neither my memory nor my calendar are very reliable.  I played this song last June, but in honour of some great musicians, I am playing it again.

“The Day The Music Died” is February 3, 1959, when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper were killed in a plane crash after a concert.  Don McLean was a 13-year-old paperboy in New Rochelle, New York when Holly died. He learned about the plane crash when he cut into his stack of papers and saw the lead story.

According to McLean …

“For some reason I wanted to write a big song about America and about politics, but I wanted to do it in a different way. As I was fiddling around, I started singing this thing about the Buddy Holly crash, the thing that came out (singing), ‘Long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile.’

I thought, Whoa, what’s that? And then the day the music died, it just came out. And I said, Oh, that is such a great idea. And so that’s all I had. And then I thought, I can’t have another slow song on this record. I’ve got to speed this up. I came up with this chorus, crazy chorus. And then one time about a month later I just woke up and wrote the other five verses. Because I realized what it was, I knew what I had. And basically, all I had to do was speed up the slow verse with the chorus and then slow down the last verse so it was like the first verse, and then tell the story, which was a dream. It is from all these fantasies, all these memories that I made personal. Buddy Holly’s death to me was a personal tragedy. As a child, a 15-year-old, I had no idea that nobody else felt that way much. I mean, I went to school and mentioned it and they said, ‘So what?’ So I carried this yearning and longing, if you will, this weird sadness that would overtake me when I would look at this album, The Buddy Holly Story, because that was my last Buddy record before he passed away.”

Our friend Ellen added to my knowledge last night …

“This commemorates the untimely deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “Big Bopper” Richardson in a plane crash in 1959. Their tour bus was scrapped and replaced with an airplane which crashed not far from the airport. Valens and Richardson were not supposed to be on that plane, but Tommy Allsup lost to Valens in a coin toss and Waylon Jennings gave his seat to an ill Richardson.”

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
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
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
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll 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 and 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
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
I started singin’

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll 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 Lennon read a book on Marx
The quartet practiced in the park
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died
We were singin’

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
And singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

Helter skelter in a 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 half-time air was sweet perfume
While 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 singin’

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
And singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll 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 singin’

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll 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 ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll 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 ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die

Songwriters: Don McLean
American Pie lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

30 thoughts on “♫ American Pie ♫

  1. Pingback: ♫ Alone Again (Naturally) ♫ | Filosofa's Word

  2. First, let me be crystal clear by saying that I love this song! Eldest Daughter, as I may have mentioned in the past, is a Country Music fan and amongst her favorites is Waylon Jennings. You may be asking, justifiably so, why I tell you this on a Don McLean music post that I brought to your attention yesterday.That is until, if you will bear with me as I unleash that poorly controlled Propensity for Loquacity, I recount a discussion that took place very late last night. She and I were talking about not only my “Doggy Date Night” but also the commemoration of “The Day The Music Died”. We talked about a book by Jennings that both of us had read in early 1997 : “Waylon : An Autobiography” in which he recounts the plane crash and how it affected his whole life artistically and personally. He tells how when Buddy Holly found that he and Allsup had given up their seats on the plane, some teasing banter took place between them. Holly jokingly said : “Well, I hope your ol’ bus freezes up.” Jennings writes that he jokingly replied : “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes.” When the plane did crash and Jennings found out, he was filled with remorse and guilt. Add to that; Holly’s pregnant wife, Maria, miscarried shortly after his death attributing it to the trauma. Thankfully Richardson’s wife, who was also pregnant at the time of his death, gave birth to a healthy son, who later became the Big Bopper Jr. Jennings was haunted all of his life and it most likely led to a decades long cocaine addiction. This with his excessive smoking, he said 6 packs/day, contributed to the serious health issue of diabetes. Following numerous failed attempts he quit cocaine in 1984 and cigarettes several years later. After having his left foot amputated in Dec. 2001, he died on Feb. 13, 2002 from complications of the diabetes. Daughter reminded me that Jennings released an album in 1978 “I’ve Always Been Crazy” on which he has a 4 song medley of Holly hits and another song called “A Long Time Ago” about the event. She also told me of an old single of Jennings called “The Stage (Stars in Heaven)” which was a tribute to Holly, Richardson, Valens and Eddie Cochran. That song is now found on a box set “The Journey : Destiny’s Child”. The point in sharing all of this, and there indeed is one, is that whilst McLean’s featured song is definitely worth a redux every now and again, I may have led you astray by the omission of these other tribute songs! Mea culpa, I should have consulted with her earlier! Thank-you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • My friend … your P for L and your encyclopedic knowledge never cease to amaze me! I knew none of that, and thoroughly enjoyed reading this comment! Obviously, Auntie H has inherited her mother’s talents! A throwaway remark — “I hope your plane crashes” — and a lifetime of pain, guilt and angst. In some ways, I’d say Buddy Holly was the luckier of the two. I’m not a particular fan of most country music, though I have a soft spot for Willie Nelson, but Donnie (the late-ex) always loved Waylon. Now, stop worrying about not mentioning all those other songs a day sooner, for I likely still would have played American Pie! Two reasons … it best suited the occasion, and … since I had played it before, the set up and info was already done for me, so I only had to write a new intro. It was nearly 3:00 a.m. and I was exhausted, so it was a welcome relief. Thank you, dear Ellen, for adding some extra colour to the story!

      Like

  3. There were a number of songs written and recorded in the spring of 1959. I can no longer remember the names or artists, but I remember the line from one, something like “There are three new stars in the heavens” (Orion’s Belt) and I would look up at them every night when they were visible, wondering which was which. I was all of nine years old, and very naive. I didn’t know they had been there for millions of years. I believed they were new.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This song has special meaning to me for two reasons. The first was because I was In high school when Buddy died. I collected all of Buddy Holly’s records and the last album. Like Don, I felt a personal connection and loss. Second, when I retired the first time, (out of three) I took up radio broadcasting and worked at a 50,000 watt station. My time on the air was from midnight to six a.m. There was no one other than myself in the studio so when American Pie came up on the playlist with a running time of over eight minutes I could get coffee and hit the restroom. The song had the nickname, “jocks friend.” Thanks, Jill. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was only 8 when he died, so I can’t relate in the same way, but I can understand. You retired 3 times? Wow … once was all it took for me! Though, in truth, that first year I did a lot of consulting work, so I guess it was a transition period. I do love your story about being a DJ ! You actually gave me an out-loud chuckle! Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Out loud chuckle is a good thing. Yeah, that first time I was 50 years old. Couldn’t stay there. I did consult for about five years and then was hired by one of my clients and spent the next 15 with them. Didn’t really stop until I was 70. Even then, there was a 12 month consulting engagement. Thank heavens now there is only writing. Thanks for letting me know about the chuckle. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

    • Heh heh … people aren’t satisfied with what is right before their eyes, but always have to search for deeper, hidden meanings. I’m the opposite … I can’t even see the deeper meanings when they ARE there! I’m glad you liked this one!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s