Allegory of American Pie by Don McLean

A Piece of the "Pie"

Ask anyone what was the defining moment in the rock history of the 1960s was and all you will get is a one word answer: Woodstock. The three day rock festival that defined an era was only one of many music festivals of the ‘60s. But Woodstock has come to symbolize, "an era of peaceful, free- loving, drug- taking hippie youth, carefree before harsher realities hit..." (Layman 40). The Woodstock festival ended a century filled with many metamorphoses of rock’n’roll, from the era of pop music to the rebirth of folk music to the invention of acid rock. But some cynics say that rock’n’roll died with the death of Buddy Holly before the 60s even began. One such person is Don McLean. The poet behind the haunting epic song about the death of ‘danceable’ music, McLean wrote the ever popular song, "American Pie" (appendix 1). The most important song in rock’n’roll history, "American Pie", is the song about the demise of rock’n’roll after Buddy Holly’s death and the heathenism of rock that resulted. Although McLean himself won’t reveal any symbolism in his songs, "American Pie" is one of the most analyzed pieces of literature in modern society. Although not all of its secrets have been revealed, many "scholars" of the sixties will agree that the mystery of this song is one of the reasons it has become so successful- everyone wants to know the meanings of its allegories.

Proof of "American Pie’s" truth lies in the allegory of the song. Many People enjoy the song but have no idea what it means- Who is the Jester? What is the levee? When the deeper story is found, the importance of the song is unearthed. "American Pie" is not only a song, it is an epic poem about the course of rock’n’roll in the sixties. The song is centered around the epic’s hero, Buddy Holly. Holly was a 50s rock and roller who experimented greatly with chords and beats. Many people say that if Holly hadn’t died, no one would have needed the Beatles, who in their time also revolutionized rock. But in any sense Holly was a rock pioneer. He wrote his own songs and popularized the use of the two guitar, bass and drums line-up (Jordan). Holly directly influenced most of the most prominent folk and rock musicians of the 60s including Bob Dylan, the Beatles and many others. The Beatles name actually originated from Holly’s band, the Crickets (Jordan).

In February of 1959 tragedy struck. Holly was on tour with a collection of performers, and he wanted to fly to the next stop instead of taking the bus. He chartered a plane and a pilot to fly him and two others to Fargo, North Dakota (Verse 1). Originally it was to be Holly, Waylon Jennings, and Tommy Allsup. But J.P. Richardson ("The Big Bopper") talked Jennings into giving him his seat and Allsup lost his seat to Richie Valens ("La Bamba") on a coin toss (Jordan). The pilot, Roger Peterson, was a visual pilot, and not certified to fly an instrument plane flight. But on the night of February 3, 1959 the plane when up during a flurry. The pilot lost control and while he believed he was steering up, the plane went straight down. When the plane crashed all four men died instantly (Jordan). The day that the plane crash henceforth became known as "The day the music died".

The chorus in American Pie is the main theme of the song. American Pie is the pure American art of rock and roll. The Chevy is the icon of America. The levee is the source of music and since the decline of original rock and roll, there is no water (or talent) in the levee: it’s dry. "This’ll be the day that I die," was taken from a Buddy Holly song entitled "That’ll be the Day" and a line in the chorus read, "That’ll be the day that I die," (Kulawiec).

The next verse of American Pie, McLean demonstrates what happened after Holly’s death. The birth of teen idols such as Frankie Avalon and Fabian arose. Although the verse seems positive, the narrator is left outside of the "dance". While ‘you’ (The youth of America) were