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Don McLean - American Pie - Lyrics Meaning

This epic 1971 folk rock song by Don McLean reached #1 on the charts for four weeks in 1972. With a length of over eight minutes and veiled references in almost every line, it's a song whose meaning has been - and will continue to be - debated at great length for many years.

Bye-bye, Miss American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levee

But the levee was dry

McLean calls the song an autobiographical abstract of his life that was initially inspired by the death of rock and roll pioneer Buddy Holly, who died in an airplane crash along with fellow musicians Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson.

"American Pie" begins with what McLean recalls of the death of Buddy Holly, then progresses from there into describing America as he saw it back then and his fantasies of what it might become. On his website, he reiterates his view that the song was written as an attempt at an epic America song, using imagery of music and politics to accomplish that.

One common myth that McLean disputes repeatedly is a rumor that "American Pie" was the name of the airplane that Holly and the others were flying in. "Untrue," he says. "I created the term."

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