Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ (Leaping Ahead #72)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #72: 160312

[A song to sing along to]

Released originally in 1971, critics have been arguing over the meaning of the lyrics for years. But in 2015 Don McLean announced he would reveal their true meaning when the original manuscript was auctioned in New York City in April 2015. The lyrics and notes were auctioned on April 7, and sold for $1.2m. In the sale catalogue notes, as promised, McLean said…

Basically in American Pie things are heading in the wrong direction. … It [life] is becoming less idyllic. I don’t know whether you consider that wrong or right but it is a morality song in a sense.

The catalogue did confirm some of the better known references in the song’s lyrics, including mentions of Elvis Presley (referred to in the lyrics as “the king,”), Bob Dylan (the jester), and the death of Meredith Hunter at the Altamont Free Concert (most of the fifth verse).

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