American Pie (song)

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American Pie is a song by Don McLean that was released on the 1971 album American Pie . The song reached first place in the US singles chart in 1972 and number 2 in Great Britain . In eight and a half minutes it tells the story of rock 'n' roll from 1959 to 1969 and is peppered with allusions to the stars and songs of that decade. Don McLean was inspired by the deaths of Buddy Holly , Ritchie Valens and JP Richardson, Jr. ("The Big Bopper"), who died in a plane crash in Iowa on February 3, 1959 (" The Day the Music Died ").


The song became famous above all because of its allusive text, which has kept interest in enlightenment alive for years and is still the subject of speculative interpretations today. The album American Pie is explicitly dedicated to Buddy Holly, but none of the musicians who died with him in an airplane accident are named in the song. Don McLean barely commented on the text. When asked what the title American Pie meant, he jokingly replied, “It means I never have to go back to work.” Later, he was more serious and said, “There are many interpretations of my text, but none was mine [ …] I'm sorry if I can't help you there, but I realized a long time ago that songwriters should make their statements, but then turn to other things and keep a dignified silence about what has happened. "

McLean has always refused to answer questions about individual details in his song: “You defy interpretation. They are poetry. ”An exception is his comment on the line“ February made me shiver / with every paper I'd deliver ”: He admitted that he was in the process of folding the newspapers for his tour as a newsboy when he learned of Buddy Holly's death over the radio on the morning of February 3, 1959.

Over the years, many radio hosts and DJs have released unofficial renditions, and something of a "standard rendition" has emerged, with the help of the Internet . The breakdown of the main allusions is based on the interpretations of Bob Dearborn and Jim Fann. This includes the following interpretations:

At the April 2015 auction of the original manuscript, McLean revealed the meaning of his song. In an interview published in the auction records, he explains that "things are going the wrong way in American Pie." While he does not explain every single line, the records confirm the references to Elvis as the "King," Bob Dylan as "Jester" and the Charles Manson murders as "Helter skelter".

In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 , the radio station Clear Channel Communications published a list of 166 songs with the recommendation that they should not be broadcast for the time being. American pie was among them.

Cover versions

American Pie has been covered several times . The best-known versions include Madonna's (which reached number 1 in the charts in several countries with its abridged version of American Pie in 2000 ), Catch 22 , Pearl Jam and Weird Al Yankovic . Garth Brooks sang the piece on the occasion of the inauguration of Barack Obama in January 2009.

From American Pie there is also a German-language version. This was in the 1970s by Hans Hass jr. , the son of Hans Hass , sung with text based on the original version.


In the Songs of the Century -Choice of Recording Industry Association of America 2001 on the most important American songs of the 20th century American Pie chosen to place fifth In 2017 the song was entered into the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Howard, Dr. Alan: The Don McLean Story: 1970-1976 . In: . Archived from the original on July 11, 2007. Retrieved June 3, 2007.
  2. What is Don McLean's song "American" Pie all about? . In: The Straight Dope . May 14, 1993. Retrieved June 3, 2007.
  3. American Pie. Don
  4. Don McLean - American Pie Lyrics. Retrieved December 14, 2018 .
  5. ^ Bob Dearborn: Bob Dearborn's Original Analysis of Don McLean's 1971 Classic "American Pie" . August 10, 2002. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
  6. Jim Fann: Understanding American Pie . Archived from the original on September 6, 2003. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
  7. Don McLean reveals secrets behind American Pie. In: The Telegraph. April 7, 2015, accessed August 5, 2019 .