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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Meaning of Don McLean's American Pie

Best of Today: The Meaning of Don McLean's American Pie (7/4/15)

Alexis Petridis (head rock and pop critic at the Guardian): I think the whole song, what it's saying, it's about a very, sort of specific moment in American popular culture.

The song comes out in 1971, at which point the sort of 60s dream, the late 60s kind of utopian flower power whatever you want to call it, dream, has curdled very dramatically, as a result of the Altamont festival, which is 1969 where people got murdered while the Rolling Stones were played by Hell's Angels.

And what it strikes me that American Pie is doing is looking back at the 60s and going, well all these things happened. It mentions John Lennon, it mentions Bob Dylan, it mentions The Birds, all these people.

But, for all these sort of advances that took place in music and popular culture, what happened to the original sort of innocence of rock and roll? Y'know? That seems to be the question that it's posing...

Host: We all think that music was at its greatest when we were, well when we're in our teens, I suppose.

AP: Absolutely, and that's why the song, I think, rings down through the ages.

Y'know, it's a long time since the sort of moment that I'm talking about, in the early 70s when this would've hit home... music is always most exciting when you're 15 years old. And everybody, everybody thinks that.
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