We thought we knew the meaning of this famous song, did you? 12



View Profile

American Pie by Don McLean is an iconic song of the 70s, with its emotional lyrics and catchy chorus. But did you know the meaning behind the song? We thought we did but it turns out we were wrong!

According to the man himself, who has just sold the original manuscript to the song for $1.2 million at auction, the release of the lyrics was so that fan could understand the true meaning of the song.

“It was an indescribable photograph of America that I tried to capture in words and music,” he told Christie’s.

“I would say to young songwriters who are starting out to immerse yourself in beautiful music and beautiful lyrics, and think about every word you say in a song”.

Most people thought that the lyric ‘the day the music died’ was in reference to the 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and JP “Big Bopper” Richardson. But Don McLean revealed that the lyrics were actually about morality.

“Basically, in American Pie things are heading in the wrong direction. It is becoming less ideal, less idyllic. I don’t know whether you consider that wrong or right, but it is a morality song in a sense,” he said.

“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’.”

Don also said that he was inspired to write the iconic words “bye, bye Miss American Pie” when he was in a pharmacy in New York and drove as fast as he could back home.

He also told Christie’s the song “had to be about America, nature and loss, and love, and a whole bunch of things, and other things wouldn’t fit”.


Have a listen to American Pie below and tell us, do you love this song? What do you think the lyrics mean?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I grew up in the sixties & I knew them meaning of the lyrics & so did all my friends, I actually thought everyone did.

  2. i always associate it with the announcer/ disc jockey taking a toilet break after hearing one confess to that years ago. They also use Bohemian Rhapsody as it plays for a long time too.

  3. one of my all time favourite songs..

  4. Think he is STILL making it up as he goes, this time for more money. It is my all time most loathed song, on & on for far too long about nothing, I turn it off each time it comes on. Truly torture!

  5. Who cares? It’s a great song whatever it is about. Trying to figure out the references was always part of the fun and about as successful as explaining what Bobbie Gentry’s Ode To Billy Joe was all about.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *