Monday, June 22, 2009

ROCK Orgy: "American Pie"



ROCK Sex posts are about how everybody has a part to offer to the whole.

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Sometimes a song is a bit of an orgy of pop celebration. Meaning that it celebrates and refers to many other songs and artists in One Big Shout-Out!

Folk singer Don McLean's "American Pie" is a classic example. It's an emotional narrative spanning Rock'n'Roll from 1955 to 1970. Though the song was a full 8 minutes+, it was a huge hit because it chronicled the arc of the counterculture generation. It was also a lyrical mystery that pop fans loved to decipher.

The song's chronological narrative refers in symbolist terms to many great songs and events in the formation and arc of Rock'n'Roll:
  • Buddy Holly's "That'll Be the Day" and his sad death
  • TEX RITTER's "Rye Whiskey"
  • THE MONOTONES' "The Book of Love"
  • MARTY ROBBINS' "A White Sports Coat and a Pink Carnation"
  • BOB DYLAN (the Jester) and his later motorcycle crash
  • ELVIS (the King)
  • THE BEATLES' "Helter Skelter"
  • THE BYRDS' "Eight Miles High"
  • "SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND"
  • Woodstock
  • THE ROLLING STONES' "Jumpin' Jack Flash"
  • the stabbing death by the Hell's Angels at Altamont
  • JANIS JOPLIN
  • and the Jesus Freaks (hippie Christians).

Being a broad narrative it's open to interpretation. McLean seems to be contrasting innocent beginnings with hedonistic endings, more partial to early Rock'n'Roll and Folk, but less so to Psychedelia and lifestyle excesses. Conservatives can fold it into that shopworn narrative of dismissing the '60s generation using Altamont as an arbitrary capstone. Progressives can revel in the anarchic currents that ebb and flow amongst its creative players. Music fans can dig it for its metatext, its melody, and its sheer celebration.

Slice your own interpretation...

DON McLEAN -"American Pie" (1971)



© Tym Stevens



See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

-Revolution 1950s: The Big Damn Bang of Rock'n'Roll! -Buddy Holly


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