Friday 28 October 2016

Did the music live again? Don McLean reveals secrets behind American Pie

Published 07/04/2015 | 12:03

Don McLean
Don McLean

Musician Don McLean has finally revealed the meaning behind his 1971 hit American Pie, one of the most enigmatic songs in pop history.

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The original manuscript of his iconic 'American Pie' song is expected to fetch up to $1.5m (€1.38m) at auction in New York later today.

The manuscript includes a lost ending, describing how “the music was reborn”, and 18 pages of notes that accompany it describe the decline of the USA and its loss of innocence.

McLean has always avoided answering questions about the meaning behind the song, other than to joke: “It means I don't ever have to work again if I don't want to.”

But in an interview published in the auction's catalogue, McLean (69) said the lyrics reflected the way the world had declined in the years since it was written.

“Basically in American Pie things are heading in the wrong direction,” he revealed.

“It is becoming less idyllic. I don't know whether you consider that wrong or right but it is a morality song in a sense.”

He initially said he was selling the manuscript on a whim, but in the catalogue added that he wanted to inspire young songwriters to think about every word in a song.

“I was around in 1970 and now I am around in 2015... there is no poetry and very little romance in anything anymore, so it is really like the last phase of American Pie,” he said.

The final verse of the recorded version describes a bleak America: the music has gone and even the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are heading for the coast.

Don McLean
Don McLean

But his notes offer the tantalising prospect of a lost redemptive verse. It describes falling to his knees to his pray: “And I promised to give all I have to give, If only he would make the music live again.”

His prayers are answered, “and the music lived again" or "was reborn” - depending on which version you are reading.

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