American Pie
Don McLean Lyrics


Jump to: Overall Meaning ↴  Line by Line Meaning ↴

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
But 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 ol' boys were drinkin' 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 'n' 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 ol' boys were drinkin' 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 rollin' 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 ol' boys were drinkin' 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 fallin' 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 halftime 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 ol' boys were drinkin' 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 ol' boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
And 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 singin', bye-bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ol' boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
Singin', "This'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die"

They were singin', bye-bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry




Them good ol' boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
Singin', "This'll be the day that I die"

Overall Meaning

American Pie is a song by Don McLean that was released in 1971. It is a tribute to the history of American rock and roll, exploring the impact it had on society and how it felt to lose some of its biggest players. The song reveals the personal experiences of the artist and how he viewed the world after losing three rock and roll legends who passed away in a plane crash on February 3, 1959. The song begins with “A long long time ago, I can still remember how, that music used to make me smile.” This implies that the piece is a nostalgic retrospective of the time gone by when music was an integral part of life.


The first verse of the song sets the tone for what is to follow, and the second verse explains why the singer is feeling the pain. These verses refer to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, which occurred while the singer was still in high school. The verse “But February made me shiver, with every paper I'd deliver. Bad news on the doorstep, I couldn't take one more step” refers to the death of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper, who all died in a plane crash on February 3, 1959. The lyrics also refer to music's ability to bring people together and make them happy, “And maybe they'd be happy for a while.”


The remainder of the song alludes to the political and cultural changes that occurred starting from the early 1960s. Don McLean references the Beatles and Bob Dylan and their impact on American culture. The song also takes a darker turn, referencing the Altamont Free Concert, where a concertgoer was killed by the Hell's Angels, and the rise of Charles Manson, whose influence Don McLean calls the "Satan's spell." The song concludes with "The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost, they caught the last train for the coast, the day the music died," suggesting that music will never be the same again. Overall, American Pie is an intricate, nostalgic ode to a period of time that created a significant impact on society and culture, both good and bad.


Line by Line Meaning

A long long time ago
The songwriter is reflecting on a distant past.


I can still remember how That music used to make me smile
The songwriter recalls how much he enjoyed music in his younger days.


And I knew if I had my chance That I could make those people dance And maybe they'd be happy for a while
The songwriter believes that music has the power to bring joy and happiness to people's lives.


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
The songwriter is referring to the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper on February 3, 1959, which he sees as the day that the innocence and joy of early rock and roll was lost.


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
The songwriter is bidding farewell to the ideal of American culture that he associated with early rock and roll, represented here by the metaphor of 'Miss American Pie,' and acknowledging that this event has marked the end of an era.


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?
The songwriter is posing a series of questions about the role of music and religion in people's lives, and suggesting that music has the power to be a spiritual force that can bring salvation to the soul.


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
The songwriter is reminiscing about a past love affair and the power of rock and roll to bring people together and create a sense of joy and community.


I was a lonely teenage broncin' buck With a pink carnation and a pickup truck But I knew I was out of luck I started singin'
The songwriter is describing his own youth and sense of isolation, and suggesting that music was a form of self-expression and rebellion against the constraints of society.


Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye And singin' this'll be the day that I die
The songwriter is referring back to the earlier refrain, suggesting that the sense of cultural loss and disillusionment he feels is widely shared.


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 We were singin'
The songwriter is painting a picture of a historical moment in which music and culture played a more powerful role in society than they do now, and suggesting that this sense of community and shared purpose has been lost in the years that have passed since then.


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
The songwriter is using a series of surreal and disjointed images to suggest the chaos and instability of contemporary society.


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?
The songwriter is describing a chaotic scene in which cultural forces are clashing and no progress is being made, a reflection of the broader sense of social unrest that characterized the late 1960s and early 1970s.


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 He was singin'
The songwriter is referencing the cultural turmoil of the 1960s and 1970s, giving voice to the sense of anger and disillusionment that many young people felt towards the establishment and mainstream culture.


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
The songwriter is describing the breakdown in communication and cultural values that he sees as symptomatic of contemporary society, suggesting that many people are feeling lost and disillusioned.


And the three men I admire most The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost They caught the last train for the coast And they were singing
The songwriter is referencing the Christian Holy Trinity, but reinterpreting it in light of the cultural and social upheavals of modern times.


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
The song returns to its earlier refrain, emphasizing the sense of disillusionment and cultural loss that many people are feeling.




Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
Written by: Don McLean

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
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Most interesting comments from YouTube:

@Tanaka_Kou

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
But 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 old boys were drinkin' whiskey in 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?
Do you believe in rock 'n' 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 dancing in the gym
You both kicked off your shoes
Then 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 old boys were drinkin' whiskey in Rye
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 rollin' 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 old boys were drinkin' whiskey in Rye
Singin', "This'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die"
Helter Skelter in the summer swelter
The birds flew off with a fallout shelter
Eight miles high and fallin' 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 old boys were drinkin' whiskey in 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 old boys were drinkin' whiskey in Rye
And 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 singin', "Bye-bye, Miss American Pie"
Drove my Chevy to The Levee, but The Levee was dry
And Them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey in Rye
Singin', "This'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die"
They were singin', "Bye-bye, Miss American Pie"
Drove my Chevy to The Levee, but The Levee was dry
Them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey in Rye
Singin', "This'll be the day that I die



@calhawksworth2579

Lyrics:

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
But 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 old boys were drinkin' whiskey in 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?
Do you believe in rock 'n' 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 dancing in the gym
You both kicked off your shoes
Then 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 old boys were drinkin' whiskey in Rye
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 rollin' 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 old boys were drinkin' whiskey in Rye
Singin', "This'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die"
Helter Skelter in the summer swelter
The birds flew off with a fallout shelter
Eight miles high and fallin' 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 old boys were drinkin' whiskey in 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 old boys were drinkin' whiskey in Rye
And 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 singin', "Bye-bye, Miss American Pie"
Drove my Chevy to The Levee, but The Levee was dry
And Them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey in Rye
Singin', "This'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die"
They were singin', "Bye-bye, Miss American Pie"
Drove my Chevy to The Levee, but The Levee was dry
Them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey in Rye
Singin', "This'll be the day that I die"



@orangeasphalt741

When I was a little kid, my Dad would play this for me countless times because he knew how much I loved this song.
So when he passed away, after a three year battle of A.L.S.😢
I wrote a parody of this song as a tribute to my late father.

VERSE 1


Long long time ago,
I can still remember how his music used to make us smile.
A 1959 born man,
thought he had a long lifespan,
and we could all be together for a while.
But 2016 made us shiver, for his right leg began to quiver,
it got worse with each step, he couldn’t take one more step.
He wrote software he could upload, used computers, and advanced codes,
and now sun’s set on his road, we call it his ORANGE ASPHALT.

Oh my my Stephen was a smart guy,
he has been here, for 60 years, now he says his good-byes,
he’s in Heaven, that’s where today he resides,
saying one day you’ll be by my side, one day you’ll be by my side.


VERSE 2


Did you know he met a girl,
at university where his life unfurled, for she you see was his future love.
Their relationship began as friends of course,
despite flaws love’s a greater force,
and yes they were both blessed by the lord above.
Oh
he purposed and became engaged, and their requested marriage was arranged,
they were the best of husbands and wives, it was the best day of their lives.
They had 3 great kids who they both adore, and one married a man of Canadian lore,
but sadly the great wedding wasn’t before our man Stephen’s ORANGE ASPHALT.

I started singing
My my Stephen was smart guy,
he has been here, for 60 years, now he says his good-byes,
he’s in Heaven, that’s where today he resides’
saying one day you’ll be by my side, one day you’ll be by my side.


VERSE 3


Now for decades music was a loved thing, he cherished with his beloved siblings, and wow what a very merry group they were.
Yes
their loving parents were so filled with joy, they were deeply proud of their girls and their boys, it was an extraordinary concert yes sir.
Well
he passed his great love for the art, to his 3 kids he loved with all his heart, he entertained them with his gift, and their spirits he did lift.
Yeah
on his great guitar he was indeed a bliss, and he truly was a musical artist,
his musical hands will sorely be missed, oh yes after his ORANGE ASPHALT.

We started singing
My my Stephen was a smart guy,
he has been here for 60 years, now he says his good-byes,
he’s in Heaven, that’s where today he resides’
saying one day you’ll be by my side, one day you’ll be by my side.


VERSE 4


Destination visitation anticipation for vacation, he loved one spot in this whole nation.
Yes up in York Maine was a sensation, at his vast family’s cabin’s location, his thing was nature hiking exploration.
Oh
Bar Harbor, and Jordon Pond, and Mount Cadillac, Black woods and beyond, on the island he loved it all, Mount Desert Island it is called.
Yes
Steve loved the state of Maine the very best, yes his favorite in the hemisphere of the west,
Maine mourns the loss of one of it’s guests, oh yes after Steve’s ORANGE ASPHALT

Maine started singing
My my Stephen was a smart guy,
he has been here for 60 years, now he says his good-byes,
he’s in Heaven, that’s where today he resides,
saying one day you’ll be by my side, one day you’ll be by my side.


VERSE 5


Oh this song’s title I’ll explain what that is, it’s long story but it goes something like this, it all started with a video game.
It has a
total of 30 levels it’s true, and we advanced to the level 22, and yes orange asphalt is that level’s given name.
Because
you control a motorcycle, on a sunset lit road for a while, Stephen took that level to heart, I guess that was his favorite part.
Because
ever since then he asked from morning to 9, may I name this after, favorite level of mine,
we will treasure late Steve’s famous line, “Can I call this ORANGE ASPHALT?”.

He’s probably singing
My my Stephen was a smart guy,
he has been here for 60 years, now he says his good-byes,
he’s in Heaven, that’s where today he resides,
saying one day you’ll be by my side, one day you’ll be by my side.


VERSE 6


We already missed Stephen yes, when he had been cursed with A.L.S., we miss the man he used to be.
We took the task to help our man, in any possible way we can, the bad illness proceeded unfortunately.
On July 10 2019, his fate we feared had been seen, and zero words were spoken, the hearts of us were broken.
And the level Steve admired best, I took to my heart cross my chest,
I named the song you know the rest, Steve may call it ORANGE ASPHALT.

And I was singing….
My my Stephen was a smart guy,
he has been here for 60 years, now he says his good-byes,
he’s in Heaven, that’s where today he resides,
saying one day you’ll be by my side, one day you’ll be by my side.



FINALE

We were singing….
My my Stephen was a smart guy,
he has been here for 60 years, now he says his good-byes,
he’s in Heaven, that’s where today he resides,
saying one you’ll be by my side.



All comments from YouTube:

@timothyjackson4006

On February 3rd 2024 it has been 65 years since that tragic day we LOST BUDDY HOLLY, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. Yet their music still Rocks to this very DAY! Thank You Don McLean for this awesome Tribute to the entire Rock & Roll Industry. Rock On!

@Rajib317

May the music never die. May we all sing together in harmony.

@aharonwsmith

amen and amen!

@noobfailgaming5703

YES! My grandads favourites. Can't believe half my music taste Is game music and the other half my grandads playlist lmao. This song is a banger >:)

@cabbey31

@@noobfailgaming5703 dirges in the dark!

@michaelseiber1794

Dude the point of the song is that the music is dead. The culture of the United States is nearly gone.

@noobfailgaming5703

@@michaelseiber1794 why did you ruin the nostalgia for me 😭😭😭 I knew it had a sad outlining but you didn't need to ruin my childhood

21 More Replies...

@Jim4979

I met Buddy Holly in 1958. He was a fun person to hang out with for a while. Buddy enjoyed every minute of life. Today, I'm 75 and a writer. Thanks Buddy for inspiration you can do anything life! R.I.P. . . .😇

@wyattterrence8544

Wow, you were present for such an iconic slice of time. If you ever decide to write a memoir, count me as one of your readers 😁🙌

@Law-Enduring-Citizen

Great story

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