A long, long time ago, there was a song that defined the feeling of a generation. Forty-five years ago Don McLean creatively told us about the day the music died in his iconic song 'American Pie'. Today, most millennials and even Generation Z's know the 300 stanzas of this song more than the Star Spangled Banner. I met up with Don McLean before his concert in NYC, and asked him all about his life, and of course -- his big hit 'American Pie'!
Buddy Holly was not only an influence to Don McLean, but his hero. So when Buddy Holly and other famous music artists were killed in the tragic 1959 plane crash, it really impacted McLean. In fact, that's where the lyric "but February made me shiver" came from.
Pete Seeger was another influence in McLean's life. When McLean sings about "when the jester sang for the king and queen," the king, to McLean was Pete Seeger. I actually had the opportunity to interview Seeger before he passed away. In that interview, Seeger talked about a peace demonstration that he was a part of in October 1969 which led to his iconic song 'Give Peace a Chance'.
So what is 'American Pie' all about? The song was definitely meant to send a message. In my interview with McLean, he revealed a lot about the song's meaning. Life was much different for McLean, who grew up during the '50s. At that time, the primary purpose of music was for dancing (think sock hops). It was quiet back then. TVs weren't all over the place, the radio was sometimes turned on, and there was less noise. His lyrics talk about how the good days of the '50s ended and how the turmoil of the '60s changed everything. That was the day the music died.