American Pie

Don Maclean

A long, long time ago
I remember how the 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 awhile
But February made me shiver
with every paper I’d deliver
bad news on the doorstep
I couldn’t take one more step
And I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died

So Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie,
Drove My chevy to the levy, but the levee was dry.
Them good ole boys are drinking whiskey and rye,
singing This’ll be the day that I die

Did you write the book of love,
and do you have faith in God above,
Because the Bible tells you so?
And do you believe in Rock and Roll,
can music save your mortal soul?
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?
And I know that you’re in love with him,
’cause I saw you dancing in the gym,
you both kicked off you shoes
and I dig those rhythm and blues.
I was a lonely teenaged broncin’ buck
with a pink carnation and a pick-up truck
but I knew that I was out of luck
the day the music died

I started singing, Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie,
Drove My chevy to the levy, but the levee was dry.
Them good ole boys are drinking whiskey and rye,
singing This’ll be the day that I die.

For 10 years we were on our own
and moss grows fat on a rolling stone
but that’s not how it used to be
The jester danced for the king and queen
in a coat he borrowed from James Dean
and a voice that came from you and me
And as the king was looking down
the jester stole his thorny crown
the court room was adjourned
no verdict was returned
as Lenin(*) read a book on Marx
the quartet practiced in the park
and we sang dirges in the dark
the day the music died

And we were singing, Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie,
Drove My chevy to the levy, but the levee was dry.
Them good ole boys are drinking whiskey and rye,
singing This’ll be the day that I die.

Helter skelter in the summer swelter
Birds flew off with the fallout shelter
8 miles high and falling fast
and it fell on the grass
the players tried for a forward pass
with the Jester on the sidelines in a cast
the half-time air was sweet perfume
the sergeants played a marching tune
and we all got up to dance
but we never got the chance
The players tried to take the field
the marching band refused to yield
do you recall what was revealed
the day the music died?

And we were all in one place
a generation lost in space
with no time left to start again
Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Jack Flash sat on a candle stick
Cause the fire is the devil’s only friend
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

I met a girl who sang the blues
and I asked her for some happy news
she just smiled and turned away
I went down to the sacred store
where I 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 we were singing, Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie,
Drove My chevy to the levy, but the levee was dry.
Them good ole boys are drinking whiskey and rye,
singing This’ll be the day that I die.

*According to Don MacLean’s site, that lyric should be "Lenin read a book on Marx" although numerous people have e-mailed me to tell me it’s "Lennon read a book on Marx." For an interesting interpretation of the lyrics, which Don refuses to explain, see The Straight Dope. Personally I believe it’s supposed to be “Lennon read a book on Marx”, since the song is supposedly set at the time of the death of Buddy Holly, which would have been in the early days of the Beatles, while Lennon was indeed experimenting with a lot of ideas, including socialism. I’m sure Lenin must have read Marx as well, but probably much earlier.

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2 comments on “American Pie
  1. Jessica says:

    i think that maybe the words are perposely impossible to diciper becuse it refers to both of them

  2. rebecca browne says:

    The Chevy to the Levy is about a bar in New Rochelle, NY

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