Don McLean's "American Pie"

I have been trying to convince my boss that the reference in “American Pie’s”, the father, son, and the holy ghost… is JFK, RLK, and MLK…am I correct or what??? If I’m not, then “Trivial Pursuit, The Genius Edition” is wrong…please let me know…

The Master speaks.

No one knows for sure except Don McLean, and he ain’t tellin.

NO, it was about a plane crash that killed The Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens, and Buddy Holly. That plane crash made that day, the third of February in 1959 the “day that music died”.

No, it was about a plane crash that killed The Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens, and Buddy Holly. That plane crash made that day, the third of February in 1959 the “day that music died”.

tosses rocks at Alan

Bah. I woulda got it first any other day!


Sorry about the double post.

More info about this subject can be found here

Expect a move to Cafe Society or General Questions, and welcome to the board.

This site (and this one) posits it’s Holly, Valens, and Big Bopper.

This one (and similarly this) is a mishmash of maybe the above three, maybe your three, maybe the Crickets, and maybe a literal nod to spirituality. What a mess.

In other words, there’s probably not a definitive answer (even from Don himself). My money’s on Holly, Valens, and Big Bopper, since they are the underlying inspiration for the entire song. But the JFK, MLK, RLK guess is pretty reasonable too.

On preview, I took too long to answer, and Alan gave us Uncle Cecil’s take on it.

From The AFU and Urban Legends Archive:

I don’t see how there can be much doubt about the main theme of the song. “The Day The Music Died” has got to be February 3rd, 1959 when the crash killed Holly, Valens and Jape Richardson (aka Big Bopper).

Whether other lines of the tune refer to Dylan, JFK, Elvis etc. is known only to McLean, and he ain’t sayin’.

By the way, it’s the Genus Edition, not the “Genius Edition”, genius. :wink:

Some years ago Don McLean was interviewed (I think on a British talk show). He was asked staight up what American Pie meant. He replied that it meant that he never had to work again if he didn’t want to. :cool:

Just to be contrary, I once deconstructed American Pie as if it completely discussed politics rather than music. In my interpretation, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost fit in nicely with JFK, RFK and MLK. Just for gravy, the last train for the Coast was the funeral train that brought RFK back from California, and the Chevy on the levee was, of course, Ted Kennedy at Chappaquidick (I know, he was driving an Oldsmobile, but try to scan that in a lyric)

However, I should point out that I am not Don McLean and I did the whole thing basically to show that someone could.

Bye bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Olds off the roads
Told the lady ‘Goodbye’…

Thank you! takes a bow

I still want to know why the singer is disappointed when he finds the levee to be dry. Aren’t they supposed to be that way? (even taking into account the whole Mississippi Burning malarky).

Will you be here all week?

Depends on the location. I spend some of my teenaged years a few houses from the Mississippi levee near New Orleans. That portion of the levee was always bone dry but I could walk a ways upriver to a spot where once could usually fish from the levee.

From what I understand, DM is pretty serious about his religion, and not ready to compare any mere mortals to God. The most likely explaination, therefore, is that he is literally referencing the Holy Trinity.

That is what I had thought…that it was a comment regarding a crisis of faith, that the Holy Trio let the plane crash, act of God and all that, and McLean is lamenting the moral/philosophical implication of such an act.

And therefore it should be “the Father, Son and Holy Ghost”.