Talk:American Pie (song)/Archive 1

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Archive 1 Archive 2


The article seems to lean very heavily on Beatle's lore, which may or may not have been a big influence on Don McLean. For instance, the section on the Vietnam conflict is very small for 1) a song that has to do almost exclusively with Americana and 2) A topic that was gripping the nation at the time. It seems almost absurd that McLean would not make reference to the war.

For instance, the lines:

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?/

Might this not be referencing the LBJ public relations campaign just before the Tet Offensive in 1968, where press and government officials made it look constantly like America was winning the conflict(sergeants playing a marching tune/We all got up to dance)? However, when the Tet Offensive occurred (players(Vietcong) tried to take the field/the marching band refused to yield), Americans got the shock that things were not going so well after all, and that we might not be winning the war (do you recall what was revealed?)

Marching tunes in America are almost synonymous with victory and patriotism.

Anon. 00:06, 9 December 2006 (UTC)

Note: Sorry, forgot my login credentials last time.

Dgabrech 19:33, 9 December 2006 (UTC)

Parochial interpretation

The interpretation seems very constricted. It's clear the song traces MacLean's path from youth to adulthood, anyone who is an adult knows we should compare our memories of youth with our adult experiences with a big caveat in mind. This song wouldn't have such popular and universal significance if the meanings were mainly parochial sectarian in nature. Huangdi 20:23, 20 October 2006 (UTC)

Earlier discussion

I really appreciate all the effort this weekend to straighten out the references to the deaths of the three stars, but I don't see the purpose of the "the day the music died" link. It is just a short version of the American Pie entry.

This expression was invented by Don MacLean and put in the public ear by his song American Pie. I would be very surprised if anyone ever referred to that date as "the day the music died" before American Pie was released. Ortolan88 high school class of '58. Besides, the music didn't die.

Didn't Madonna cover this? -- Sam

Very very badly. With Rupert Everett. (is that a tortology) -- User:GWO
I'm only eighteen, but my dad introduced me to the original when I was... 12? Something like that! I liked the original. But we should mention Madonna. Unless no one wants to... -- Sam

Wow, was I really here two years ago? I'm now 20 and I think the Madonna cover should probably be mentioned in the first paragraph since it has introduced the song to a new generation. Something like "It was famously covered by Madonna in the year 2000." as a second sentence would do it, I think. --Sam 14:36, 18 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Dude, Madonna's remake of this is the worst remake ever. American Pie is a classic that cannot be remade. /Timneu22 00:15, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

I'm a little thrown by this: "Other critics have claimed the "widowed bride" is Joan Rivers." What critics have claimed this, and on what basis, if the song was recorded in 1971 and Joan's husband Edgar Rosenberg committed suicide in 1987? -- Someone else 02:59 Nov 16, 2002 (UTC)

I know (is that the "brittle Jewess" (not me being racist, but the onion archives) that does those "best and worst dressed" specials on VH1 and E all the time?) it seems crazy. But that's what this claims. It's essentially an amateur effort, but it was also one of the first results of google and is linked to on virtually every other site about the song. If you delete, I won't revert. Tokerboy 03:06 Nov 16, 2002 (UTC)
She's the only Joan Rivers I know. I think that you can't include every suggestion anyone has ever made about this song here, and that the article would be stronger if they are left out when they are patently nonsensical...unless you wanted to add something about the unreasonableness of anonymous posters on USENET<G>. I think it would better be left out, but I leave it to you to decide. Someone else 03:22 Nov 16, 2002 (UTC)
Don Maclean would want every weird suggestion ever made to be included. Artistically, that's the whole point of the song, to make people talk about it. I think it's Eva Braun, myself. Ortolan88
What a thing to say about Jackie Kennedy! I'm shocked, shocked I tell you! Someone else 04:39 Nov 16, 2002 (UTC)

Surely the line "a generation lost in space" must at least in part refer to the Apollo missions that were going on at the time - perhaps McLean felt these were a distraction from what was really important, (hence lost). The whole space age thing was also an influence on the hippy era, giving many a new perspective on mankind's position in the universe. I'm sure McLean is alluding to all of this, not just to being "spaced out" on drugs or whatever. GRAHAMUK 02:41, 12 Sep 2003 (UTC)

We should at least reconsider reinstating the "his fears were proven groundless" removal although I don't know what would count as evidence for that (Can we prove that McLean would like disco?)

My problem with that line isn't that it's not provable but it has nothing to do with the subject of the article; it's pure non-sequitur. The earliest of the styles mentioned didn't arise until decades after the plane crash and several years after the song. In fact, I'm not sure why "dance music" is specified in the first place -- Buddy Holly was not making dance music particularly. McLean himself put out many more albums; it's abundantly clear the music didn't "die" permanently. Perhaps there is a way to integrate it better, I can't see it. Jgm 18:53, 24 Oct 2003 (UTC)
Hmmm. I see your point. Paullusmagnus 17:27, 25 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Also, why the reference to a synagouge? We can be pretty sure that McLean is Christian from the last verse, no? (It also seems more likely that he would be refering to sacred music in general, rather than a specific location...) Paullusmagnus 16:53, 24 Oct 2003 (UTC)

You are right, there's Christian imagery throughout the song, but I'm fairly sure Don McLean is/was Jewish, though I can't say how formally; at least several other of his songs ("Zion", "Dreidel") have Jewish themes. The stanza
 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
seems to me to be to a specific place; at least one analysis I've seen claims this stanza means McLean took tried to take solace in religion to no avail, and it rings true to me. Jgm 18:53, 24 Oct 2003 (UTC)
Seems more likely that he is a Christian. "By the Babylonian River" is used as a Christian hymn, but "The three men I admire most/The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost" doesn't sound very Jewish. Also, apparently, he attended a Catholic school [1]. I've wondered about "Dreidel"... why not just any top? The lyrics to "Jerusalem" [2] seem to imply that he is really concerned with religious tollerance, so that might have something to do with it... Anyways, I doubt that he'd be refering to any specific place of worship anyways -- it's too specific an explanation. Paullusmagnus 17:27, 25 Oct 2003 (UTC)

I have always believed the “Scared Store” was a literal place: A record store. Think of it this way: he’s going to the record store, the place where he first heard the music of his youth-The Buddy Holly Era. Since Holly has passed away the place acquires an even greater reverence, “I went down to the sacred store, Where I’d heard the music years before…” But by now it’s the early seventies and the music has changed by so many degrees. The store stocks what is contemporary and new; it’s selling these markets. The old guard of rock is no longer commercial. “But the man there said the music wouldn’t play.” It keeps in line with the lost world feeling in this part of the song. ( 20:06, 11 February 2007 (UTC))

Should Don McLean's web page be added to the "External Links" section:

Donald McLean

Done. Although I used "" - which is a different address for the same site - because that's the address written in large letters on the site itself. —Paul A 01:35, 9 Jan 2004 (UTC)


This is a fascinating article, though I found it tedious to go back and forth between this article and another window with the song lyrics in it so I could remember what the song itself said. Does anyone see a problem with putting the song lyrics into this article, and interspersing them with the explanation of what each line means? I think this would definitely fall under fair use - I don't see how including the song lyrics here could possibly infringe on the copyright holder's ability to make money from the song - but I thought maybe there's a reason why the lyrics haven't been included here yet? - Brian Kendig 15:01, 28 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I've added the song lyrics to the article. (Not the complete lyrics; I've omitted the chorus refrains.) I don't think this is a copyright violation because the lyrics can easily be found on many unofficial web sites out there, and I feel this article makes a whole lot more sense if we quote the actual lyrics it's talking about. - Brian Kendig 17:12, 9 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Note that whether or not the lyrics are widely disseminated elsewhere has no bearing at all on whether a reproduction is a copyright violation (i.e. 10,000 people on the WWW can be wrong), so please don't use that argument again. I will readily agree that the lyrics here are used in a clear fair use or fair dealing context (using them for research and study, or rather, as Wikipedia is not original research, incorporating research sources). That said, IANAL. 17:17, 9 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Sorry, I misspoke; I meant this isn't likely to be a legal liability for Wikipedia. A Google search on "bye bye miss american pie" lyrics returns 886 hits, which suggests to me that the owner of the copyright on the song isn't putting much effort into defending his copyright, and that there's not likely to be any challenge to the use of the lyrics here. - Brian Kendig 22:31, 9 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Legal liability or not, we're generally better off not relying on such gut estimations of where the owner might draw the line. But again, I don't see a copyright problem here, so I don't think it's much of an issue. 22:09, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Reprinting this much of the song's lyrics infringes on the copyright of the publishing company and songwriters, who are to be paid whenever their song is performed or reprinted. --FuriousFreddy 07:40, 26 August 2005 (UTC)
Are you a lawyer, specializing in copyright issues? We're clearly analyzing the lyrics here, and this is usually considered to fall under "fair use". If it were me, I'd put them back.
Atlant 12:53, 26 August 2005 (UTC)
You can analyze them, but you cannot reprint them in their entiriety without permission. The article reads fine without hte lyrics pasted here. You can only quote a small section of the lyrics and claim "fair use", not the entire song. Publishing/songwriters' copyright and recording copyright entirely seperate matters, and, again, a full lyric reprint violates those rights. As such, I'm listing the article at Wikipedia:Copyright problems. The article can either be edited ot disinclude the entire lyrics to the song, or someone can call or write the Universal Music Publishing Group and request reprint permission for its use here. --FuriousFreddy 14:14, 26 August 2005 (UTC)
Are you a lawyer, specializing in copyright issues?
Atlant 14:42, 26 August 2005 (UTC)
No, and if you are, you should be made aware that full lyric reprints do not fall under "fair use". The words to a song are copyrighted by the songwriter, and, just like a copyrighted poem, cannot be rerprinted in their entirety without official permission. A lyric reprint does nto violate the copyright of the recording itself, but it does violate that of the songwriters and publishing company; a song's recording and a song's composition are copyrighted seperately and handled seperately. Again, if the full lyrics are to be included here, you need notorized permission from Universal Music. --FuriousFreddy 14:49, 26 August 2005 (UTC)
We could at least include a link to the lyrics as other articles do. And FuriousFreddy, seriously, are you a copyright attorney. There are many hits online for these lyrics, and if a copyright problem ever arose all that would have to be done would be to remove the lyrics. On Google there is over 2,300,000 hits for American Pie lyrics. The great kawa 02:19, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

The Copyright laws in this country MUST be readdressed. They are derived from legal issues faced by 18th century print media and maintain their adherence to these archaic principles. If copyright is to be fair then it should make sense, but it does not make sense because copyright law only makes sense to the lawyers who outline eight hundred page regulations the rest of the populace is expected to easily digest. But these laws cannot be easily digested, and they cannot account for the march of technology. Look at what happened to the Audio Home Recording Act! ( 20:13, 11 February 2007 (UTC))

We have already provided enough examples of lyrics used in this song to give away the entire song!

Should we mention the "Bye Bye Mr CIO guy" parody that Pat Helland did? --Grobertson 19:46, 30 Dec 2004 (UTC)

"bathroom break"

I started to totally remove the statment that the song is "a standard choice for disk jockeys working alone who need a break" since, in this day of highly automated, centrally-programmed radio, DJs (when they still exist) seldom either make these "choices" or need to wait for a single long song to take a break. I chAnged my mind but put it in past perfect tense; I also removed the list of other long songs which is off-topic and becoming contentious. Jgm 21:10, 24 August 2005 (UTC)


From the article: A strong case has been made that the jester is Bob Dylan. Indeed, James Dean famously wore a red windbreaker in "Rebel Without a Cause", and Dylan was shown in a distinctly similar windbreaker on the cover of one of his albums, "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan".

The windbreaker Dylan wears on the cover of "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" is not red. I don't see any obvious similarities between it and the wind breaker worn by Dean other than the fact that both are windbreakers.--Heathcliff 04:23, 10 September 2005 (UTC)
Exactly. And the clown who wrote that awful Usenet FAQ, who I think has spent too much time sniffing paint, makes the same mistake. Did anyone who wrote this junk ever just LOOK at the Dylan album cover?
Also, I'm fairly sure Dylan never gave a command performance for the queen. Actually, I'm absolutely certain of it.
On the cover of Highway 61 revisited Dylan wears a windbreaker, it isn't red, but he sits looking very much like James Dean.
Bob Dylan isn't even wearing a windbreaker on the cover of Highway 61 Revisited. He's wearing an unbuttoned blue and pink shirt over a t-shirt. You can see it on the wikipedia page for the album's article.Heathcliff 00:07, 7 January 2007 (UTC)


I have read that the original lyrics had "Lennon" (as in lennon read a book on marx) spelled as "Lenin". If I am not totally wrong about this (which Im not ruling out) it could be a major contradiction. Should this be addressed? --Gpyoung talk 00:40, 23 September 2005 (UTC)

Evidently not. ;) Kafziel 14:20, 22 December 2005 (UTC)
I don't know if the lyrics should be interpreted as Lennon or Lenin, but the I'm sure ambiguity was intended.

The "marching band"

Here's the relevant section of the lyrics I'd like to discuss:

Now the half-time air was sweet perfume
--Gregoe86 22:42, 16 November 2005 (UTC) While 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

Taking the lyrics literally, the image portrayed is that of halftime at an (American) football game. "Sergeant" is a title sometimes given to marching band leaders. The marching band is on the field, performing, and we (in the crowd) are interrupted in our enjoyment of the music because halftime is over and the football players want to resume the game, but the marching band wants to keep playing and won't yield the football field to the football players. The conflict is clearly between the "players" and the "marching band" with the crowd on the side of the band, NOT the (football) players! I don't know what each side represents, but it seems that any interpretation that puts the crowd at odds with the marching band is probably wrong. - CronoDAS 20:27, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

Why not take them completely literally? The marching band refused to yield to the players because music meant more to them than any football game. The next lines are "do you recall what was revealed / the day the music died?" On the day the music died, it was revealed that the music meant more than anything else possibly could. Ari 07:17, 13 October 2005 (UTC)

I've read an analysis that mentioned a concert by The Beatles (Sgt. Pepper, et al) that was extremely short... has anyone else heard this theory? Also, is there any validity to the "sweet perfume" reference being drug-related? --Gregoe86 22:42, 16 November 2005 (UTC)

Now the half-time air was sweet perfume (marijuana smoke)

While sergeants played a marching tune (waging war in Vietnam)

We all got up to dance (people back home got up to protest the war)

Oh, but we never got the chance (riot police and/or the draft prevented them)

'Cause the players tried to take the field (raids on the Vietnam grassy knolls, jungle)

The marching band refused to yield (The soldiers refused to capitulate)

-G —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:12, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

Skepticism and Original Research

In this diff, Ritchy removes this snippet:

"American Pie" has also been the last song played at every dance at the Center for Talented Youth, an academic summer program for secondary school students run by Johns Hopkins University, for roughly 20 years.

Saying "rv - anyone got a source for that? 'cause it sounds like joke vandalism to me...". Now, I don't have a source, but I have gone to two CTY programs, and I can vouch for the veracity of that statement. Cross-reference with Center for Talented Youth, which talks about it... but... that article has a {{cleanup-verify}}. I don't have a source though. Original research, eh? I'm sure we can turn up something on google though, but it'll be a few somewhat unprofessional CTY fansites and blogrings. I haven't reverted the edit as it's somewhat "trivia"-ish, but it's true. — Ambush Commander(Talk) 22:21, 29 December 2005 (UTC)

The latest issue of The CTYer, the official CTY alumni newsletter, discusses American Pie's use at CTY dances and includes an interview with Don McLean about said use. It can be found right now at CTY and American Pie, though I don't know how long that site will stay up. There is a print edition, so this has some permanence to it, and it's a legitimate official source. Ferret-aaron 06:20, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

I think that should be kept in. It's a huge part of the program and has spread all over the world. --LakeHMM 20:31, 5 August 2006 (UTC)

References in this article

Including citations in this article is tricky but we need to overcome the challenge. McLean must be a primary source. He hasn't been mum about "American Pie". To the contrary, he insists, "In fact, Don McLean has spent 30 years doing little else but talk about American Pie!" [3]. Careful readers of McLean's website will find that Bob Dearborn's interpretation is specifically mentioned. Even more careful readers will find an archive of articles, some of which may have previously appeared as features on the website. In particular, the "American Pie" archive article [4] was originally drafted by one Alan Howard, who is identified as McLean's "Official Biographer". Howard's archived article points to two additional interpretations (to be used as secondary sources) that I now feel should be used to draft this Wikipedia article -- they are Jim Fann's interpretation (already included) and Saul Levitt's interpretation (not currently included) on [5]. However, these references carry a warning -- Howard says, "Any evaluation of the accuracy of these theories should be put into the context of the detailed remarks that Don McLean has made about the song over the past 30 years." I agree. We should include interpretations that are consistent with or correlate very closely with known facts about: (1) McLean's life because McLean says "American Pie" is autobiographical; and (2) American popular music history because McLean says the song is about the evolution of music during the 1960s. Additional material should be included that are consistent with other known additional themes in the song -- namely, drug culture, the anti-war movement, and religion. I've started citing the article extensively and could use some help. --Dkwong323 07:34, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

The sections "Vietnam War" and "The Kent State shootings" seems to be pure speculation and OR. Is anything in them worth keeping? I think both need to go. Pax:Vobiscum 22:28, 12 January 2007 (UTC)


Is there a reason we've grouped this article by subject matter instead of by verse or line? Would it be too long to add the song lyrics (followed by applicable interpretations) as well as its current form? Daemon8666 20:16, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

For sure, writing down the entire lyrics and their interpretation line by line would be a good way to present this article. Unfortunately, the lyrics are copyrighted, so we can't do that. For more detail, check the "Lyrics?" discussion just above. -- Ritchy 15:23, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
Listing by subject seems more encyclopedic. Some subjects overlap, so if it were listed by verse it would look more like a messy list than an article -- Astrokey44|talk 00:20, 12 January 2006 (UTC)


Much of the lyrical interpretation seems to be (at best) a bit sketchy. It all reads as POV at the moment (no sources whatsoever) and surely qualifies as original research. There are some fairly clear POV comments (e.g. Vietnam, especially). Needs rewriting, referencing, and NPOV'ing. Badgerpatrol 02:45, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

  • Amen to this comment. I think this page has beome largely a collection of anyone's favorite assertion of cultural reference, meaning, etc. Even any widely held interpretations of meaning, that the comment regarding "a rolling stone" is intended to refer to the Rolling Stones to pick a random, specific example, should be cited somewhere to be included. Otherwise it is just opinion and speculation. Phil 07:50, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
  • Inclusion or ommission of a particular view is more complicated than simply citing a source. The article's interpretation portion is constructed on McLean's autobiographical material and commentary -- these are very high quality sources that are used to filter alternative views. See the Good article nomination has failed section for a more detailed explanation. --Dkwong323 02:45, 27 April 2006 (UTC)
  • Also see the note on "References in this article" in the "Skepticism and original research" section of the discussion. --Dkwong323 07:38, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

Length of song

On a CD of the album American Pie, the song American Pie on it was 8:32. The article says otherwise

My copy of the song seems to say 8:32. — Ambush Commander(Talk) 22:20, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
According to allmusic, it's 8:38. -- Ritchy 23:31, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
It all probably depends on how long it fades out at the end. Also, with LP's, play length might have varied a little bit, depending on the power load, the quality of record player, etc.
"American Pie" doesn't really fade at the end. The more likely explanation: Before the advent of CDs, timings on the labels of 45s, LPs, etc. were educated guesses more often than not. Only with digital readouts of the times of songs do we realize just how inaccurate record labels could be with this information. Cheemo 07:47, 8 May 2007 (UTC)
It doesn't fade out in the usual sense. It ends on a guitar chord just after he repeats the final chorus. The only "fade out" is the natural diminution of the reverberating chord's sound, which is just a few seconds. Wahkeenah


I cleaned up and tried to NPOV the comment in the Apocalypse interpretation section a bit. I don't think it should be in there at all really, I question where the line between including every random interpretation written of the song, no matter how fringe and keeping the article focused on the song itself should be. Including anything more than a citation of any random group that chooses to come up with an interpretation of this song seems a bit like turning this into fodder for soapboxing and advertising. Just my opinion though, thought I should mention it. Perhaps if any interpretation is valid a seperate page for interpetations of the song would be appropriate. Phil 07:39, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

Given McLean's statements about the American Pie, I felt that the "misguided" charcterization (being inconsistent with McLean's statements) was NPOV and noteworthy. I deleted it because of its great inconsistency with McLean, not due its origin from the fringe. History has shown that fringes should be taken seriously. --Dkwong323 09:36, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

Eight miles high

Wasn't there a song by the Byrds, could that be relevant to the phrase?

Supposedly 1966...

The birds flew off to a fallout shelter, Eight miles high and falling fast.

Yes, there are references to The Byrds' "Eight Miles High" in two sections of "The American Pie (song)" article: one is in the section on The Byrds; the other is the section on Apocalyse and nuclear war. The song has an interesting history that you can read in the Wikipedia article "Eight Miles High". Roger McGuinn, the master guitarist who helped write the song, talks about its meaning and also performs it in a XM radio interview now available in mp3 format. If you're an subscriber you can download and listen to it. --Dkwong323 02:36, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

Cover of song needs merging

We have an article currently at American Pie (Madonna song). I suggest that whatever is actually verifiable from that article could fit in a paragraph in this location. Jkelly 01:50, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

It's a good idea to merge the American Pie (Madonna song) article with the American Pie (song) article. There doesn't seem to be a good rationale to have separate articles, though it would be nice to display both the McLean and Madonna album covers. --Dkwong323 09:52, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

I think it would be better if the Madonna section was made into an own article like American Pie (Madonna single). Someone who's looking for information regarding Madonna's version will have a hard time finding it in this article. Since this article also has become too big, a split wouldn't exactly hurt. Objections? Pax:Vobiscum 12:09, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

We try to make sure to keep to a "one article per song" rule of thumb. If the article is really too long, and I am not sure that it is, we can help the reader find the Madonna cover information by linking to the section from the lead. Jkelly 17:56, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

Copyright-infringing images

Hi. Please see Wikipedia:Fair use. Every copyright-infringing image needs a fair use rationale explaining why it might be considered fair use for each article that image might appear in. "Fair use" can be complicated and confusing, and I recommed reviewing Wikipedia:Fair use closely in order to understand how Wikipedia handles copyright-infringing images used under the fair use doctrine. Images used in one article in one fashion may fall under "fair use" but be indefensible in another. It is important to always keep copyright infringements to an absolute minimum. Thanks for understanding. Jkelly 18:19, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

What is wrong with just citing the images? -flashstar-
These images are copyrighted. You can't just take copyrighted content. --Rory096 16:14, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Jkelly is correct that the images that were in this article on March 11 did not have valid fair use assertions, as they were copyrighted by people other than those being described. --Rory096 16:14, 15 June 2006 (UTC)


Am I going bonkers? When the hell did John Lennon come into the equation? "Lennon read a book on Marx?" It's Lenin read a book on Marx! Lion King 22:24, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

Think of the timeline. During the period captured in the song, Lenin is long dead, but Lennon is going strong. You might also want to refer to the Firesign Theatre's album How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All which may have also factored into the writing of this line. Here's a link to the relevant cover-art for that album:
Atlant 23:50, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
I have the original sheet music, it says "While Lenin read a book on Marx", and you only have to listen to hear that it's plainly, Lenin not Lennon. Cheers Lion King 09:25, 28 March 2006 (UTC) P.S. I don't know what Madge Ritchie sings, prob. is Lennon, or more likely Lemon! Lion King[6]
The version of "American Pie" Lion King links to is not original sheet music -- it's not even copyrighted; and it's erroneous. Of the three sites (all using "Lennon") in the article's Reference section, Jim Fann's site [7] displays a version copyrighted by Don McLean in 2000. In addition, on Don McLean's own website [8] you'll find a composite of copyrighted versions dated 1971 and 1972 printed for guitar cords with lyrics that display "Lennon" and not "Lenin".
Scores of very independent-minded people have contributed to the referenced sites for years and years, but none of them use "Lenin" in the lyrics. In particular, Bob Dearborn, the Chicago WCFL disk jockey, has been updating his interpretation with contributions from his audience since 1972. Kulawiec's interpretation spans from 1992 to 1997.
Finally, Don McLean has said many times that "American Pie" is autobiographical. Vladimir Lenin (b. 1870 - d. 1924) reading a book on Karl Marx while a quartet played doesn't fit into this theme at all, since Lenin predates Don McLean (born in 1945) by at least 21 years. This is a pun, because when sung, it may be heard as Lenin read a book on [Karl] Marx. I'm speculating, but McLean may have actually intended to express a communist image into the song, since "American Pie" was released while Cold War tensions were high. So, Lion King may have something there. However, McLean's lyrics are what they are -- they say "Lennon" not "Lenin".
--Dkwong323 05:22, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for your detailed answer!
Atlant 13:52, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Let me also thank you for going to so much trouble. Quite frankly, I am amazed to see "Lennon" copyrighted in 1971. My sheet music says Lenin, do you think I can lay hands on it? No! I have however, listened to "American Pie" ten times and I think we are dealing with the "Tangled Up In Blue" syndrome, in other words auto-suggestion. If one is expecting to hear "Split up on the docks that night" instead of "Split up on a dark sad night" you will hear it - same with Lennon and Lenin. The courtroom is adjourned, no verdict is returned! Best Wishes Lion King 14:30, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Wait a minute! If Don McLean's lyrics are what they say, how do you explain, "and while Lennon read a book of Marx, the court kept practice in the park?" Where's the quartet that's supposed to be The Beatles? Lion King 18:39, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
"You both kicked off your shoes man I dig those RYTHMNY blues?" This, is the original 1971 copyrighted song? I don't think so. Lion King

Yes, there appear to be very unfortunate transcrition errors. I'd use Jim Fann's website that displays the more recent copyrighted version. --Dkwong323 09:57, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
You can read it either way. It's both a reference to the Marxist Lenin, and to the left-leaning Lennon. In other words, it's a brilliant pun on both their names.: -- Unimaginative Username 19:13, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

Good Article nomination has failed

The Good article nomination for American Pie (song)/Archive 1 has failed for the following reason:

Wikipedia:No original research Jkelly 17:33, 15 April 2006 (UTC)

Terse comments are not helpful to contributors to this article. Please keep the spirit of wiki alive by identifing which portions of the article you feel are not consistent with the original research policy. Please pause to consider while I do my part...

Note that the article's framework originates for the most authoritative source possible, Don McLean himself. For better or for worse, McLean is using the Internet to document his views. The material is indispensible, though it is, in part, a fan site. This may be frustrating, but we shouldn't be surpised -- he's a pop star after all.
The article's emphasis on inpretation is significant because it has been nearly thirty-five years since "American Pie" was first performed. After years and years of interpretative hits and misses, many of them very bizarre (and almost certainly observed by McLean himself), it is a fairly recent development that McLean is giving the public more information about his intentions for the song and his personal beliefs. This is just wise because he probably wants the song to continue to be relevant (and sell) to people who didn't live through the 1960s. McLean's release of information and the collective interpretations in the references combine as secondary sources for the article. Considerable analysis (mostly filtering) is required given the diversity of views in interpretations that were mostly created before McLean's relatively recent relevations about the autobiographical nature of the song and of his being religious but not Christian. However, the core ideas underlying the interpretation is all from McLean: (1) the song is autobiographical; (2) the song is a music history that starts off with memories of the Buddy Holly's death; (3) the song contains fantasies; (4) the songwriter is religious but not Christian though the song is replete with Christian imagery; and (5) finally, the song is a source in itself, given everything else, it says what it says.
Feel free to remove POV elements that you feel make the article like a "fan site". Contributors seem to have restrained themselves from fawning over McLean and the song quite well, though the Madonna material that you suggested for inclusion in this article is a bit distracting (due to its prominence), but even that doesn't appear to be out of bounds for an article on popular culture.
Finally, it was nice that someone nominated the article for featured article status -- the nomination was premature, but such status might be unattainable. Constructive comments appropriately noted that the article should address additional topics, and these should be drafted. However, unless McLean submits to publication of a biography or autobiography, we'll have to make due with Internet sources, videos, radio interviews, and yes, stuff that he posts on his own web site. Suggestions on how the article should deal with these concerns are, of course, welcomed. Everybody, let's wiki.
--Dkwong323 09:01, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

I would like to point out that the analysis in the article on American Pie (song) is very accurate considering what many other articles on the internet are like (including those on Mclean's own website). Also, speculation on songs like this should be allowed because that is what the authors of these songs intended for listeners to do. I believe as well that this song should be nominated not because of what we know for sure, but for what we guess. -flashstar-

Also see the note on "References in this article" in the "Skepticism and original research" section of the discussion. --Dkwong323 07:41, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

Jester and King reference

And while the king was looking down,
The jester stole his thorny crown

I remember reading somewhere that the King here is 'Elvis Presley'. The lines and while the king was looking down, the jester stole his thorny crown refers to Dylan usurping Elvis from the no 1 position at that time. Does anyone else agree with this viewpoint? Amath 21:00, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

I've seen both theories: that the "king and queen" were Elvis and Queen Elizabeth (not Connie Francis), and that they were Pete Seeger and Joan Baez. The latter frankly makes more sense, as the "jester sang for the king and queen", likely refers to the 1963 Newport Folk Festival. Joan Baez and Pete Seeger, then the darlings of the up-and-coming folk scene were headlining, and Dylan, a featured performer, effectively stole the show, and went on to become "the voice of his generation" (among the many other monikers thrust upon him). He, Dylan, later noted that it became as much a burden as a blessing, as he was soon expected to weigh in on almost any political issue that came up...hence the "thorny crown", which he stole from Seeger.

Since McLean himself has never, to my knowledge, clarified any of this, it is all based on conjecture on the part of music critics, fans and others, so it would seem to make sense to me to leave both theories in, since they both seem valid and likely. --Markt3 17:43, 20 July 2006 (UTC)

I am curious as to what the like "Oh and while the King was looking down" actually means. Could it be reference to the way in which Elvis died (falling off a toilet)? It would then explain the thorny crown reference as being the price of fame and fortuen because it ultimately lead to his death. The jester steaing it once again eventually lead to Bob Dylans death by the same means. Enigmatical 00:35, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

Elvis Presley died in 1977, years after "American Pie" was recorded, so his death is ruled out. Saul Levitt in [9] says Bob Dylan was known as a comic singer during his early singing career, providing him the rationale for McLean referring Dylan as "the jester". (Levitt cites a reference but the cite is incomplete. Maybe someone can help find me find it!) McLean's use of "king" may be at least dual. The Presley reference seems clear, but Levitt notes that on December 23, 1962, Dylan performed at the King & Queen pub as part of a UK tour that included a performance on a BBC TV program. --Dkwong323 06:49, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

Regarding the line: 'the jester stole his thorny crown' ... I think I may have found another connection that points to Dylan: All Along the Watchtower. The two main characters at the start of the song are the Joker and the Thief, and the line in American Pie could be referencing both, i.e. jester=joker, stole=thief. ChrTh 19:22, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

Why not mention Little Richard as possibly being "The Queen"?

From Wiki article on Little Richard (Penniman): "Many of his fans have proclaimed Richard as The Real King of Rock 'n' Roll (in reference to the deceased Elvis Presley, who's known by the moniker "The King of Rock 'n' Roll")... Little Richard explains in his own words his experiences with homosexuality, Charles White's authorized biography."

IIRC, Little Richard at times performed wearing what was regarded as feminine-appearing makeup, such as eye shadow. I've heard him mentioned as the "Queen" in "American Pie", as both a reference to his status as the leader ("King") of R&B/Soul and as a pun on his sexuality and appearance. Under this interpretation, folk/protest music (Dylan) stole the "crown" (of popular music) from Rock 'n Roll (Elvis) and from Soul (Little Richard). -- Unimaginative Username 19:00, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

Y2K parody

I only remember a few lines from this, such as "Bye, bye to the last digit of pi, ran my PC on some DC but the DC was dry, and good old boys were sending email replies saying this will be the day I retire" and "And while Bill Gates was looking pleased, Time took all his monopolies, The courtroom was adjourned, no verdict was returned." I saw it in 1999 in an email. Very good.

Actually that's quite horrible. People who can't write shouldn't pretend they can. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:01, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

Shold we talk about this song in popular culture?

For instance, in an episode in Futurama, They ask if they should sing AMERICAN PIE, when trapped in a space shuttle. -The Bird66.154.192.129 15:22, 19 September 2006 (UTC)

I think that we should probably insert a section for references to popular culture. It will expand the reaches of this article. I will try to get around to doing that. -Flashstar-

This song is everywhere. There should be a section.

rolling stone

"a rolling stone don't gather no moss" is also a line from Buddy Holly's "Early in the Morning."

  • An interesting coincidence. Hard to tell if McLean had that fact in mind as well as the obvious reference to the Stones group. That expression, of course, has been around for many generations, usually given a little more grammatically: "A rolling stone gathers no moss." Don't rule out the possibility that the Stones themselves might have heard that song, as they were Holly admirers. Wahkeenah 01:06, 15 November 2006 (UTC)


The Wikimedians who worked on this did a great job! I might as well call it, "The American Pie Code." I mean, there's no definite meaning to the lyrics, right? I think that they really did do a great job, expressing opinion without being opinionistic.

  • In a peculiar sort of way, this song compares with America the Beautiful, and here's why: There has to be a distinction between what "inspired" a set of lyrics vs. what they "mean". This article focuses mostly on the specific events that inspired them. However, McLean won't address those items. A true work of art says more than that. It speaks to a larger truth, in this case the loss of innocence, which most can relate to and hear in this song, even if they don't know the specific inspirations. When Katherine Bates wrote about the "purple mountain majesties" and the "alabaster city's gleam", she was inspired by Pike's Peak and by the Columbian Exposition, but again she was using them as metaphors; the song still works, even for those who know nothing of the 1893 fair, because it sings about American idealism as much as about those specific things. Wahkeenah 08:31, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

True, however I think that American Pie is actually a recount of the horrible things that happened to music and politics in general. However, it also depicts the power of the human spirit. I'm not sure why everyone thinks that everything is a loss of innocence, but American Pie certainly isn't based around this fact. It does contain an optimism similar to America the Beautiful.--Flashstar 03:21, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Cover versions - Pearl Jam cover

Did Pearl Jam do a cover of it? If so, why isn't it mentioned in the cover versions?

In the article listing covers performed by Pearl Jam, it's listed as that they did a cover of it. Check out.

Anyone can confirm this? I've recently seen an acoustic version of "Daughter" by "Pearl Jam" labeled as "American Pie" on some p2p (on Gnutella network). Perhaps this could be the reason. Anyone can clarify this? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 12:07, 9 January 2007 (UTC).