Stacks of 45’s – American Pie

The day the music died

When I was young, before I had cassettes, the only good way of making a playlist of songs was to stack 45s on the turntable. I would arrange them to play my favorite songs in my favorite order. These posts are about records I had in my stacks.

American Pie was released October 24, 1971 by Don McLean. It ran 8 minutes and 42 seconds so it was split on side a at 4:11 and side b at 4:31. Since I always wanted to hear the entire song, this required it be at the top of my stack so it would be last to play. When side one completed I would flip the stack and play the other sides and, now being on the bottom, it would play first and complete the song for me. This United Artists record was recorded May 26, 1971 and featured Don McLean (vocals, acoustic guitar), Paul Griffin (piano), David Spinozza (electric guitar), Bob Rothstein (bass, backing vocals), Roy Markowitz (drums, tambourine) and the West Forty Fourth Street Rhythm and Noise Choir.

Helter skelter in a summer swelter
The birds flew off with a fallout shelter
Eight miles high and falling fast

Don McLean (American Pie – complete Lyrics below)

It entered the US Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 69 and 8 weeks later reached number 1, January 15, 1972 and remained there for 4 weeks. In the UK it made it to number 2 and topped the charts in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. Musicoholics said “one of the most successful and debated songs of the 20th century”.

You will find many interpretations of my lyrics but none of them by me … Sorry to leave you all on your own like this but long ago I realized that songwriters should make their statements and move on, maintaining a dignified silence.

Don McLean

The song American Pie is set against the 1959 plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper, “American Pie” was an 8-and-a-half minute consideration of the decade that followed. Don McLean will not reveal the meaning of the lyrics they are left to you to interpret the way you wish.

American Pie’ just made perfect sense to me as a song and that’s what impressed me the most. I could say to people this is how to write songs. When you’ve written at least three songs that can be considered classic that is a very high batting average and if one of those songs happens to be something that a great many people think is one of the greatest songs ever written you’ve not only hit the top of the mountain but you’ve stayed high on the mountain for a long time.

Mike Mills (R.E.M.)

Musicoholics also said that the the sense of disillusion and loss that the song transmits isn’t just about deaths in the world of music, but also about a generation that could no longer believe in the utopian dreams of the 1950s … According to McLean, the song represents a shift from the naïve and innocent ‘50s to the darker decade of the ‘60s

Lyrics from Lyrics.com

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?
Now, 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
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

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 the 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

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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