Bye Bye American Pie Don McLean Versus Capitol Steps Buy Buy American Pie
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.
All the Lyrics Interpreted
- "American Pie" Lyrics - What Do They Mean?
Jim Kalrath has gone to a lot of trouble to interpret every line by verse along with the chorus of American Pie.
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
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.
Links to Other Songs in the Challenge
- Why Leonard Cohens Best Ever Song Hallelujah is my Favourite and Why I Prefer the KD Lang Version
Leonard Cohens version of Hallelujah may be raw, rough and ready, but for a number of performers it has been delivered in the true spirit of everything Cohen meant it to be when he wrote it. Leonard Cohen...
- Beyonc Single Ladies Good Lyrics But the Video Clip is all Wrong
Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) by Beyonc may have a good beat and the lyrics come with a message but the video is all wrong. Is this enough to name Single Ladies as my least favourite song? This is Day 2...
- Always Look on the Bright Side of Life is the Song That Makes me Smile
Eric Idle, Monty Python, Life of Brian and that song, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, make me smile. The song is one of those simple little ditties that sticks in your head but you don't mind. It is...
© 2011 Karen Wilton