serving up a generous slice.......in retrospect
I wanted to take a moment on this journey to take one step back into my collection......viewing something that I own, yet I now listen to with a more careful ear. It probably doesn't make sense as to why on my own path I would manage to reflect back onto a piece of work that I already own, yet let me explain.
While I was finishing up writing about Dylan last night, I kept thinking back to a moment during Matt's solo gig last night. As per usual, at any bar, you will have the local patrons who come to partake in tasty libations and want nothing more than to listen to some of their favorite classics performed live. This crowd definitely didn't disappoint. As Matt started to play the opening strains to Don McLean's "American Pie," this man who could've been my father walks up to him and poses the following question: What is the theory behind this song?
A simple question, yet it caught my interest just as quickly as it was asked. What was the true meaning behind this song? I knew that it referenced "the day the music died," when Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and The Big Bopper died in that tragic plane crash on February 3, 1959. Yet what about the rest of the song? There was this epic 8 minute song that made more references to music than most people realize. I couldn't wait to get home to place the words in front of me, pull up Don McLean on my iTunes, and really analyze the song for its true artistic value.
And Don McLean is a pure genius for it! In so many words, he managed to capture the essence of the 60s in eight minutes. The allusions to Elvis (the king) and Dylan (the Jester), as well as Helter Skelter (Charles Manson) and The Beatles (the marching band & sergeants), just to name a few.......all mentioned within stanzas of one another. Or at least, this is the idea that many have created through listening to the song and discussing it through the years.
But it's more than just the people.....it's the moments captured. McLean recalling the moment he opened the paper and discovered that Buddy Holly had been killed in that plane crash. The summer of Charles Manson and Helter Skelter. The Great Space Race and the violent undertakings at Altamont. All prolific moments within the course of the 1960's that changed the face of the culture drastically.
Yet I can't help but wonder, what is the significance of "American Pie"? And why is she of such importance that she has the song named after her? Or maybe, just maybe, with all the musical reference and the sad moments captured, that "Miss American Pie" is not a person. Just maybe, it's a metaphor for the American Dream. For what many during this time had sought in their pursuit of life and liberty. Their slice of the pie, so to speak. While there is no real concrete understanding of what the song is truly about, since McLean refuses to explain the significance of the song to this day, taking one step back reminded me of yet another important lesson: listening to the words.
For so many people, we tend to just like a song for its catchy melody or the way it makes us feel. We bop along to it in the car, never paying any mind to what the song could be about. Yet sometimes, we all need to give a closer listen. There's more to be said for really listening to a song, but I think for now, I could use a slice of American Pie before I get to my next musical destination.