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Bye Bye American Pie Don McLean Versus Capitol Steps Buy Buy American Pie

Updated on January 30, 2015

Hidden Meaning Behind the Lyrics

Don McLean first drove his Chevy to the levee in 1971 in the legendary song American Pie. It received a warm response from the public and critics alike in the seventies and certainly seems to have stood the test of time. The song reminds me of my friend, Kingy, not because he loved it but because he is the only person I've ever met who hates it - with as much passion as anyone who loves it.

Some fans know the lyrics from the opening bars into the toe tapping chorus but get lost in the umpteen verses that follow. But it is because of those verses that through the course of four decades, a following, dare I say, almost a cult, developed to analyse the hidden meaning behind the words. And while it might seem like there are umpteen verses there are actually only six.

The Other American Pie and a Recipe

Bear in mind these verses stretch to eight lines each and it has been suggested there are 17 of them. It depends on the lyric site as to how many lines represent a verse. Some say eight lines between each chorus and others suggest four followed by the old faithful, bye bye Miss American Pie. If you can stick with me, there's an interesting parody further down the page and a recipe for Karanda's apple pie adapted to every one's taste at the end.

American Pie Interpretation of the Lyrics

The song begins with little to interpret. A long, long time ago Don remembers how the music used to make him smile. According to the second part of verse one (or is it the beginning of verse two?) it was a day in February that made him shiver. A paperboy at the time, he had to deliver the bad news to every doorstep on his paper round. What was the bad news?

The day the music died is said to be linked to the third day in February, 1959 in Iowa. That was the day a plane crash took the lives of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper. It just so happens that Don McLean’s hero was Buddy Holly, and it was his widowed bride who had a miscarriage not long after the accident. Is it coincidence or sleuthful investigative work by the interpreters?

Home Made Apple Pie

Sprinkle with caster sugar
Sprinkle with caster sugar | Source

Third Verse American Pie

Don set out in is pick-up truck wearing a pink carnation in his lapel. Was this a reference to Mother's Day or was it simply a wonderful way to fit enough syllables into the second line of the third verse?

I was a lonely teenage broncin’ buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck,
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the music died.

Bye, bye Miss American Pie has been entertaining music lovers the world over for forty years. Most people loved it but there was at least one that I know of who loathed it – Kingy. So while some were besotted; some wanted to plant that pie where the sun doesn’t shine which is why I am sure Kingy would have appreciated this version so much more.

American Pie Lyrics Courtesy of Capitol Steps

Capitol Steps' parody of the Don McLean original contains open reference to products and goods no longer grown in the good old United States of America. It is a clever play on words to drive home the fact that it is easier and cheaper to source food and other supplies from off shore.

The song opens with the infamous line; A long, long time ago,but then moves in to the crux of the parody, we used to get our food home grown and the message sings out loud and clear from that point on.

Now when you buy buy an Amercian pie

Your grandma didn’t make it

It was made in Shanghai

Where they engineered the apples to be juicy not dry

But the crust is made of cardboard and lye

Don’t feed it to your dog he might die

The alternate lyrics from Don's original make you think and I believe it is well worth watching the video. This is true for other countries as well, including Australia. As much as we would like to support our own producers and manufacturers, it is a challenge to find home-made products on the store shelves from apple pie to designer suits.

A Little About Kingy

Who is Kingy and why have I included him in this Hub?

I first met Kingy some twenty odd years ago when I first moved to Alice Springs, deep in the heart of Australia. Now there are people you meet and think little more of it and then there are people you know from the start, will remain in your life as more than acquaintances. Kingy was one of those people who became a lifelong friend.

He shared his favourite music (mostly Van Morrison) so my husband and I could select the best for our wedding and honoured us by sharing the role of master of ceremonies with his wife. Even though it didn't sit well with him, he read out a poem of our choosing, as the sunset over the desert to create an atmosphere remembered by all for many years to come.

Kingy left our world a few years ago and left his friends better off for having known him. My fondest memories of him are the times American Pie was playing in the background and Kingy in the foreground shouting, "No, not that song, turn it off. I can't stand American Pie". I never did get to ask him why.

Kingy would have had more than a chuckle over this version. Come to think of it, he would have laughed at any send up of the legendary American Pie.

Karanda's Version of an American Pie

No, I'm not American but I do appreciate a wholesome, home-made pie no matter what country it is made in. Here is my version of an American pie but you can adapt it to suit the country of your origin.

American Pie Ingredients

For the Pastry Crust

  • 1 cup flour
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch sugar (optional)
  • 1/3 cup of butter or margarine
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Water (about 2 tablespoons)

For the Apple Filling

  • 4 green apples
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cloves
  • 1/2 freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice


Pre-heat oven to 4300F 2200C. We're going to blind bake the pastry base so the oven needs to be really hot. To make the pastry, sift all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar and salt) then rub the butter in using your fingertips.

Too up close and personal for you? Whack it all in a food processor and let the blade do the dirty work. Add the egg yolk and enough water to bind it into a nice doughy ball. It should be soft, shiny and not sticky. If it feels dry to the touch add a little more water but don't over work the dough or you will turn it into a football.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill it for at least half an hour. Make two separate balls one slighly larger than the other then roll out to fit an eight inch pie tin for the base and slightly less to cover.

Blind bake the base of the pie by lining with baking paper and weighting down with dried beans or rice. Bake for 10-15 minutes till the crust starts to firm.

Soft, Tender Spicy Apple Filling

Peel, core and slice the apples. Size is not important, cut to your own tastes but cook a little longer for thicker pieces. Stir through all the ingredients for the apple mix and bring to a gentle simmer.

Spoon in to your pre-baked pie crust and top with the smaller pastry roll. Sprinkle with fine sugar and bake in a hot oven for 30-40 minutes. Delicious served with a topping of whipped cream or ice-cream.

Song 5 Challenge A Song That Reminds You of Someone

The challenge from Facebook for Song number 5 is a song that reminds you of someone. American Pie is that song for me because of Kingy. Ironic that a song I enjoy can remind me of someone who cringed at the opening bars all the way through the chorus, or especially the chorus. At least there was one thing we both agreed on, there's nothing like a warm apple pie with a dollop of whipped cream, but only if it comes from the kitchen of a good friend.

© 2011 Karen Wilton


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    • Karanda profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Wilton 

      3 years ago from Australia

      Hey Jodah, never too late to stop by. I've taken time off Hubpages to write a book but now that's done I can return and interact with the Hubber community again! Had a look at your profile, wow, there's a lot of Hubs for me to get busy reading. Thanks for coming over.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      ..hey Karanda, love the song and this hub. Great information and great how a song reminds you of a friend Kingy. I see this hub is three years old so I am rather late coming across it sorry. You take your name from a beautiful part of Australia. (Fellow Aussie here) anyway, well done, voted up.

    • Karanda profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Wilton 

      7 years ago from Australia

      Thanks Lisadpreston, I love that you sang that song at such a young age. It's the sort of song that sticks in your head, love it or hate it. Try the recipe, it's a good one!

    • lisadpreston profile image


      7 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

      Such a good hub. Interesting information. I used to sing that song when I was 5 years old having no idea of what it meant. Can't wait to bake an apple pie using this recipe! Thanks!

    • Karanda profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Wilton 

      7 years ago from Australia

      Of course, don't know where my head was, that was a huge loss for music lovers.

    • attemptedhumour profile image


      7 years ago from Australia

      Buddie Holly's snow storm. Sorry!

    • Karanda profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Wilton 

      7 years ago from Australia

      Hi Prasetio30, I hope your mum cooks this pie. You are really going to love it. It was so nice of you to stop by for a read and I appreciate your comment. Thanks.

    • Karanda profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Wilton 

      7 years ago from Australia

      Winsome your description of American Pie is better than anything I could have ever dreamed up myself and perfect in every way. Abstract art combined with music and the result is the classical American Pie from Don McLean. Thank YOU Winsome for reminding me of the magic of this song.

    • prasetio30 profile image


      7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Hi, Karanda. Nice to see you here. I love American pie though I had never tasted this in person. I liked your presentation and your recipes. I'll show this to my mom as usual. Rated up. Take care!


    • Winsome profile image


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hey Karanda, I loved the song as rather catchy abstract art. It was a quilt of almost meaningful but jumbled themes, much like the American one.

      I am delighted you included a recipe for Apple pie. The yolk in the crust is a new idea for me and since I like to get my hands in it, I shall try it sometime--even if I only get far enough to roll it in butter, brown sugar and cinnamon and get a stomachache from eating them hot out of the oven with cold milk.

      Anyway, these songs with intriguing lyrics that beg for mysterious explanations are maddening but useful. Give me a catchy tune and multi-colored imagery and I'll sing it every time. Hooray for Chevys on the levee and whiskey and rye and good ole boys and American Pie and hooray for Karanda for bringing it all back. =:)

    • Karanda profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Wilton 

      7 years ago from Australia

      Minnetonka Twin that's exactly the way I remember American Pie; cranked up and the whole bar singing along!

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      7 years ago from Minnesota

      I must admit that I LOVE that song. It was a huge hit in college and all the bars cranked it up. The whole bar would sing along to it while slurping beer. Another memory of this song was about fifteen years ago. My sister and husband owned a cabin in Hayward, Wisconsin and had a bunch of friends up one weekend. We went to the neighborhood bar and all ten of us got up and sang kareoke to the song, "Amercian Pie." I feel for those people having to sit through the whole song.

    • Karanda profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Wilton 

      7 years ago from Australia

      Thank you for your lovely comment b. Malin. I thoroughly enjoyed writing about American Pie and couldn't resist adding a recipe for apple pie.

    • Karanda profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Wilton 

      7 years ago from Australia

      Eiddwen that's fantastic you found this unique. Thank you for your compliments and I am glad you enjoyed the Hub.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      7 years ago

      This Hub was Wonderful Karanda, one of your Best...Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      Hi Karen,

      Thanks for sharing this great hub.

      Totally unique and a great read.

      I push all the buttons on this one.

      Take care


    • Karanda profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Wilton 

      7 years ago from Australia

      Snow storm, what snow storm? Did I miss something? Was it in the sixties?

    • attemptedhumour profile image


      7 years ago from Australia

      We sing this brilliant song sometimes, i have about eighty song books, mainly Beatles, with the pie on the back cover. A truly classic song. Just think of the songs the world missed out on in that snow storm?

    • Karanda profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Wilton 

      7 years ago from Australia

      Thanks Vern, I'm not sure if I took the Hub full circle or veered off the path (translate, planet) completely. But I'm glad I got to share my famous pie with you, it is scrumptious and all that talk about pies, sometimes you have to go where the words take you.

      Where have you been Vern? No new hubs, very few comments from you lately (anywhere on HubPages). Hope all is well in your world, even if it hasn't happened yet.

    • Karanda profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Wilton 

      7 years ago from Australia

      Good on you DzyMsLizzy. You and Kingy would have been great mates, I feel. Who knows what Don McLean meant with any of it when he wrote that song that keeps ticking over in your brain long after you've heard it.

      Personally, I'd never really thought much about it until Kingy professed his hatred of it. Thanks for reading and the vote of confidence. Much appreciated.

    • vrbmft profile image

      Vernon Bradley 

      7 years ago from Yucaipa, California

      I like your hub, complete with recipe for the pie! Wow, talk about taking an hub full circle.

      There is another song from the era called "American Song." I guess I should google that one of these days. It is the exact counterpoint to a religious hymn, "O Sacred Head Surrounded." And I have often wondered if that was just coincidental or maybe not.

      So thanks for sharing your recipes to both insights and pie.


    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      7 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Hmmm...very interesting, Karanda! Thanks for publishing this interpretation of those damnably confusing lyrics. You've just met another person who has never liked that song. To me, it was just a bunch of jumbled up words tossed together that made no sense at all to me.

      I still feel the same way about the chorus/refrain lyrics, though. It just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, and if someone is going to write a song as a tribute, IMO, it should be done in a more straightforward manner.

      It would also earn more respect for the intent, and avoid having a parody made!

      So, no, I don't like that song, either, even though you've explained the inspiration.


      Voted up!


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