McLean's "American Pie"

The Sociological Critique by Kaitlynn Mikulski

Chorus Criticism

" . . . singin' this'll be the day that I die . . . "

McLean is referring to the song by Buddy Holly, That'll Be The Day, the artist that inspired McLean. Buddy Holly died in a plane crash in 1959, and that day was the referred to the "day the music died" by many. Buddy Holly was a huge idol for rock 'n' roll lovers during his time, and McLean is trying to say that many were singing along to That'll Be The Day in his memory.

" . . . bye, bye, Miss American Pie . . . "

The rumor goes to say that Buddy Holly's plane was named American Pie, but there's no proof stating the rumor to be true. However, during this time period, there was a saying that went "as American as apple pie." Also, this was a time where "Miss America" was a huge idol in the United States. McLean could have been referring to one or both of these icons. He's stating that the feeling of pride in the country is fading, and people aren't as happy as they used to be.

Verse 5 Criticism

" . . . a generation lost in space . . . "

The meaning behind this line is referring to the fact that during this time period, it was common to be using some sort of drugs. It means that they don't know where they are, they're too high to remember. It could also mean that since Buddy Holly, rock 'n' roll music, and the feelings America once experienced is dead, they don't know what to do with themselves. Everything has changed and no one knows what's going on anymore.

" . . . to light a sacrificial rite . . . "

McLean is talking about the sacrifice of the man who was stabbed after approaching the stage with a gun at a Rolling Stones concert. Everyone was angry with the Rolling Stones, accusing them of posing in the rock 'n' roll culture. True rock 'n' roll fans didn't believe that the Rolling Stones were making any good music, so they protested them at the concert. McLean is showing that the innocence of America is now gone.


During the work I did in this project, I learned that America changed the day Buddy Holly died. I feel as though the death of the rock 'n' roll idol and his companions was the cause of the downfall America's fun and innocence had. Before, things were great. Everyone was having fun, optimistic of the future, and jammin' to some great tunes. Then the music died out and everything went dark. Things were no longer fun for anyone anymore, and it makes me wonder how different our country would be if rock 'n' roll were still the same. What I enjoyed most about the project, however, was learning about the outrage people had at the Rolling Stones. All around me, I've only ever seen positive vibes toward the Rolling Stones, and to hear the story of their concert at Woodstock surprised me a lot.