"American Pie" Intrepretation | Teen Ink

"American Pie" Intrepretation

October 23, 2008
By Anonymous

American Pie Interpretation
In the song "American Pie" there are many stanzas that are fairly confusing. Writer Mclean depicts the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens, who are all famous rock and roll stars. There are many interpretations of the actual meaning of the song, yet no one is quite sure of the real answers. Some have been thought to believe that the plane that crashed was named "American Pie." This would explain many unanswered questions. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that this is true, but only that the plane was unnamed with only a serial number. Without a plane name to go off of, one must interpret the song on there own.
To me, “American Pie” is everything that America stands for. “American Pie”, as for the title, “is as American as apple pie.” I believe that Mclean titled the song, "American Pie" for the effect of the thoughts that are associated with it, such as Chevy trucks and rock and roll, seen in the lyrics, “drove my Chevy to the levee” and “do you believe in rock and roll, can music save your mortal sole.” American Pie may stand for the American dream of success and living one's life to the fullest potential. Rock and roll stars such as Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper were American idols, who were able to live the American dream of success and fame. They were living their own "American Pie," and taking a bite out of it for them self.
One central topic of interpretation would be the words "the day the music died." The rock and roll stars that died in the plane crash were the music of the time. They were what made up the era of rock. The day that the plane crashed with these famous men was the day that their music died. McLean associates the music created by Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Richie Valens to school dances, football games, and the good times in the past. I think that he is trying to bring back the memories of his childhood, before the "music died." These men were famous,and the day that their plane was brought down brought down the music that was so loved and looked up to by all. Mclean depicts typical high school scenes where the music of these rock and rollers played, bringing back thoughts of his oh' so' loved teenage life. Mclean refers to the years past, when life was good. One can see Mcleans' view on the past and present, by his lines, “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.” Understanding the meaning of “the day the music died” is a key factor to comprehending the meaning of this song. These lines help one pick up on Mcleans personal views to understand his feelings toward the world as a whole.
Buddy Holly and the other rockers were the music that was played at the school events, and I think that Mclean was allowing all ages and people to relate to the music and lyrics. I believe that Don Mclean was probably one of the many Americans who loved the music that was created by these men. The Big Bopper, Buddy Holly, and Ritchie Vallens were the music, and the day that they died changed the history of rock forever. Mclean may think that rock did not live to its full potential, just as the men did not get to live to their own potential. In the song, Mclean looks back on the days where he heard the music that he so loved, but like he said, “[he'd] heard the music years before, but the man there said the music wouldn't play,” showing how the “good” music passed away. I think that these men directly relate to the music that they played and lived. If it hadn't been for the plane crash, rock may have been able to develop to a whole different stage. Just as the Big Bopper, Buddy Holly and Ritchie Vallens died, the best of Rock and roll died as well.
Lastly, I come to the lines that talk about the "paper I'd deliver" and "widowed bride." Don Mclean was a delivery boy. The crash was all over the newspapers, and this is when Mclean found out about the crash. The lyrics say that he could not "take one more step." I think that this plane crash drastically affected Mclean, and the way that he thought (since he became a great song writer and performer).In this same stanza, Mclean talks about a widowed bride, and how he “can't remember if he cried when [he] read about his widowed bride.” Mclean is directly referring to the loved ones of the three rock and roll stars. Not only was it "the day the music died" but most importantly the day that people died. I think that Mclean is bringing in the saddest part of the crash, which is the loss of life. Through the song, Mclean associates with the feelings that their loved ones must have felt, the day that so many innocent lives were cut short.
As seen in the song, Mclean musically revels his feelings on the crash of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Vallens. I have seen the drastic affects of the crash, and how it not only changed music, but also the simple way of life that Americans lived. Mclean was living his innocent life, delivering papers and going to high school, when his world was turned upside down. The era of his life and so many others was lost in that plane crash. We all must begin to see the whole picture of life and learn to cherish the life that we live today, never knowing when our lives too can change.

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