Don Mcleans "American Pie"

lyrical analysis

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"American Pie" Background

Don Mclean wrote the song "American Pie" in 1971 about the deaths of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens.

Analyzing Verse 2

Each verse had a different meaning, although it always circled back to "the day the music died." Mclean mentioned many different artist poetically and symbolically.
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1st Historical reference

Mclean sings, "Now for ten years we've been on our own."


This verse has been interpreted as 10 years they went without Buddy Holly and co. since he passed in 1959 and Mclean wrote this song in 1971

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2nd Historical Reference

"...And moss grows on a rolling stone."


This verse has been thought to mean either two things. First was the mention of the band "The rolling stones." The second was Bob Dylans "Like a rolling stone." Since without Buddy, these bands/artist had started to become popular.

3rd Historical Reference

"But thats not how it used to be, when the jester sang for the king and queen."


The jester is thought to had meant Dylan. The King was thought of to mean Elvis or either JFK and Jackie Kennedy when Dylan sung for them.

4th Historical Reference

"In a coat he borrowed from James Dean"


Dylan performed in front of the President in "not such appropriate clothing."

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5th Historical Reference

"And a voice that came from you and me."


Folk music was thought of as music from the people. Dylan and Mclean both sung folk.

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6th Historical reference

"Oh and while the king was looking down, the jester stole his thorny crown."


This was thought to had meant Dylan stealing Elvis' "crown," as he went up and Elvis' popularity descended.

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7th Historical Reference

"The courtroom was adjourned, no verdict was returned."


No relation to the previous verse, this verse was thought to had meant either the trial of Chicago seven or the assassination of JFK since the assassin was killed.

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8th Historical Reference

"And while Lennon read a book on Marx."


Lennon started to get into politics and used it in his and the Beatles music.

9th Historical Reference

"The quartet practiced in the park."


This was thought to had referred to the band the "Weavers"

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10 Historical Reference

"And we sang in the dirges. The day the music died."


Dirges mean funeral songs. This could mean Mclean and others sang songs in mourning of the death of Holly, Valens and Bopper.

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