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Don McLean Explains The Meaning Of 'American Pie'

04/08/2015 09:50 am ET | Updated Apr 08, 2015

Don McLean's manuscript for "American Pie" went up for auction at Christie's on Tuesday and sold for $1.2 million, and though he's never really spoken publicly about the song's cryptic meaning, he somewhat spilled the beans in the auction house's catalog.

"Basically, in 'American Pie' things are heading in the wrong direction," McLean said in the interview. "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. 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.'"

McLean has been cagey about the song for decades, but has always insisted that "American Pie" was inspired by musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P "The Big Bopper" Richardson, who died in a tragic plane crash on Feb. 3, 1959. It became known as "the day the music died." But McLean never explained the song's 800-plus words, which he wrote 13 years after the accident. "That song didn't just happen," McLean had said in 1982. "It grew out of my experiences. 'American Pie' was part of my process of self-awakening; a mystical trip into my past."

In the recent Christie's interview, he now calls the track "an indescribable photograph of America that I tried to capture in words and music."

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