What does American Pie mean?

Don McLean: American Pie Meaning

Album cover for American Pie album cover

Song Released: 1971

American Pie Lyrics

A long long time ago
I can still remember how that music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they'd be happy for a while.

But February made me shiver
With every paper I'd...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Oct 19th 2008 !⃝

    The thing that I've learned that is most important about this song is simply "the day the music died" is when Buddy Holly (among others) went down in a plane crash. The Jester is Bob Dylan. The Quartet is the Beatles. The King... well, you figure it out. But the question that still plagues most I ask about it is "Who is Miss American Pie?"


    #2 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Jun 1st 2006 !⃝

    Really good link. Takes it verse by verse...


  3. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jul 27th 2020 !⃝

    Every song tells a story and it is up to the listener to perceive it. I have heard the Buddy Holly story, yet it has more meaning about various people or bands. I feel that it has a way of describing the decline of the moral and ethical values of our society.

  4. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jun 18th 2019 !⃝

    This song is about the loss of innocence in America and how overtime through wars and riots we slowly started finding pleasure in different things like sex, money, and power. The music started dying because it used to be a point of happiness that people enjoyed and the other pleasures started replacing the innocent fun America used to have. This also has to do with the plane crash.

  5. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Nov 26th 2018 !⃝

    Clearly, this is a post modernist, Sartrerian view of Man's place in a primordial world of confusion layered with hypocrisy topped with pre-pubescent fantasies of women in society and the likelihood of antediluvian crises. Underlying it all are themes from Camus, Jong, and Lennon becrying the West's descent into Imperialism and non-ferrous metalism. Note the Narrarator's focus on 'Self' as opposed to the Oppressed in South Afrooftica Major #tenteetlville.
    This marks a clear departure from earlier works by Steezenstatz, Bergenfeldman, and Imatwatnitzstien. They focused on the 'Beezlebub' factor as it were, and what not,forgoing Scaramoche for Scaramander. Much follows. So there you have it, and what not. Right ho!

  6. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jul 16th 2018 !⃝

    In 2015 Don McLean clarified some misinterpretations of the lyrics to American Pie. I apologize if I missed existing references to these sites.

    Rob Crilly's article cites the following excerpts from McLean's notes and interview.
    "Basically in American Pie things are heading in the wrong direction. It is becoming less idyllic. I don't know whether you consider that wrong or right but it is a morality song in a sense.... And he said the lyrics reflected the way the world had declined in the years since it was written.... But his notes offer the tantalising prospect of a lost redemptive verse. It describes falling to his knees to his pray: “And I promised to give all I have to give, If only he would make the music live again.” His prayers are answered, “and the music lived again" or "was reborn” depending on which version you are reading.... Although Mr McLean declines to run through all the cultural references, the catalogue says it is probably safe to conclude that references to the king mean Elvis Presley, Helter Skelter refers to the Charles Manson murders, and “the jester on the sidelines in a cast” is Bob Dylan."

    "Contrary to popular belief, "America Pie" was not the name of the aircraft on which Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and JP Richardson died in 1959."

    & Lenin - not Lennon - read a book of Marx


    see also https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/music-news/11518980/American-Pie-6-crazy-conspiracy-theories.html

  7. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    May 8th 2017 !⃝

    You can actually go look this up anywhere on the Internet and Don McLean himself will tell you a little bit about the song. ( The rest, of course, is left up to debate). There have been some pretty good thoughts here, too.

    Everyone that said the song starts referencing Buddy Holly and his plane crash, is correct.… Along with the other musicians, obviously. However, he never goes into too much detail or explains what the title means… because Don McLean explained that his song does not contain "evil" lyrics ( as in "glorifying" them); That he was just sadly wondering about the decline in America as "she" progressed through the years…

    I believe "American Pie" refers to when our country was young and innocent… You know… Baseball, hotdogs and apple pie and Chevrolet… ( Hence...American Pie" )


    If you really listen/look to/at the lyrics, you can tell that he is sad about America's decline... :(

  8. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    May 7th 2017 !⃝

    It's about the Buddy Holly, Richie Valinz, Big Bopper plane crash in Clear lake Iowa. They took off from Mason City Iowa and crashed shortly later on February 3 1959 also known as The Day The Music Died

  9. kooljohn176
    click a star to vote
    Feb 3rd 2016 !⃝

    A great song by DON MCLEAN about remembering in lament the sudden changes we went through that changed with a little anger that caught us in self-delusionment in years that followed after the music died in the minds of many people when hearing the shocking news about the tragic death of BUDDY HOLLY with three others in a plane crash. A time when even John Lennon back in England idolized BUDDY HOLLY and studied his music possessively more than anybody else's that helped him with the Beatles Band that became a British Invasion along with many other groups on our shores in the 60's, when we also lost three of our other leaders by the names of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.

  10. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Sep 25th 2014 !⃝

    As the song says, it's about The Day the Music Died. Three famous muscians died in a bad plane crash in Iowa. The song may seem confusing but it just has a lot of metaphors.

  11. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jan 6th 2013 !⃝

    where do songs come from? Many artist will tell you it just came to them., but from where? If you dig deep into the music industry, you will see alot of evil things going on. There are two froms of energy in the world. There are two ways of thiking, two doors you can go through. Certain thoughts come out of one door and certain thoughts come out of the other. My understanding of the song is that it refers to america herself. The song sats do you believe in god or do you believe in rock and roll. It goes on to say can music save your mortal soul. So I ask you, is it God ypu can save your mortl soul or rock and roll. Rock and roll is an instrument used by satan to decieve the masses. You will know my children by their fruits. Sex, drugs, do as thy wilt is the message. Who has a message like that. American pie is about the fall of america and all she was to suppose to stand for. I drove my chevy to the levee but the levee was dry means when you drive your car to get gas there will be no gas. Look at the original 45, you will find the author of the song. It says yahweh records. Just another crazy persons opinion

  12. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Mar 6th 2012 !⃝

    Sep12Jean Future of Forestry was absolutely aiuutefbl. I was held up.Your piece was great and I agree with you. I was brought up singing the Latin in the choir and then left the church for many years and when I came back it was to the guitar and folk music. I go to Mass not for the music but for what is on the altar. The music and singing should glorify what is going on. It is not a performance that I seek.God bless you.

  13. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Feb 14th 2012 !⃝

    Miss American Pie is Marilyn Monroe

  14. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Apr 17th 2011 !⃝

    The song is about the time Buddy Holly died in a plane crash. Many of the songs lyrics are in Buddy Holly's songs. Buddy Holly was a bigger star than most people realised. He died early and never reached his potential. He was also over shadowed by Elvis, Cash and the others that toured together at the time.

  15. m320753
    click a star to vote
    Mar 14th 2011 !⃝

    while the reason the day the music died is about the plane crash in iowa it means more than that. it's about it's about elvis who was the king from 1955 til his death but how others came upon the music scene and changed the way the songs were sung. elvis recorded 3 minute songs written by other people and his crown was tarnished when dylan hit a nerve in music and changed it forever when he wrote and sang " like a polling stone" after that song the beatles started writing deeper and longer songs(the marching band of sargeant pepper) how a lady who sang the blues; nobody sang a blues song like janis joplin, or we clenched our fists at the stones with their sympathy for the devil and the show at altamont. the jester on te side line in a cast ( dylan's dropping out for a couple of years due to his accident? or vacation) when lvis tried to make his comeback to the top with his unbelievable concerts in vegas( before he made a fool of himself due to drugs) the beatles were so good they couldn't be topped. so it all comes down to the fact that people were devastated when that plane crashed, rock and roll and new types of music far out distanced anything the three victims could ever done had they lived. i'm sure i missed a few events but this is only my opinion. i could be wrong

  16. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Mar 14th 2011 !⃝

    Now the half-time air was sweet perfume
    While sergeants played a marching tune
    We all got up to dance
    Oh, but we never got the chance
    'Cause the players tried to take the field
    The marching band refused to yield
    Do you recall what was revealed
    The day the music died?

    This is NOT about Kent State, or the riots in Chicago during the Democratic Convention.

    The reference here is this:

    The "Sergeants" are the Beatles, They played a concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco that last a mere 30 minutes.

    (I lived near San Francisco and trust me people were PISSED about the concert)

    "We all got up to dance, but we never got the chance" refers to the shortness of the concert.

    "The marching band refused to yield" means the Beatles refused to do an encore.

    "Do you recall what was revealed" refers to John Lennon and Yoko Ono Posing naked on a record album.

    The entire album is about Music and artists and some of the events that happened from the 50-70's

    If you get the chance watch VH1's "Behind the Music" episode called "The Day the Music died" I can guarantee you the you won't have dry eyes by the end of the program. I believe "American Pie" was the name of the Airplane that they crashed in.

  17. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jan 10th 2011 !⃝

    All in one place, a generation lost in space is a no-brainer... Woodstock, NY

‹ prev 12

More Don McLean songs »


Latest Articles


Submit Your Interpretation

[ want a different song? ]

Just Posted

Lemon Boy anonymous
Drama Club anonymous
Gravity anonymous
Our First Time anonymous
Nymphetamine anonymous
Liquid Smooth anonymous
Teddy Bear anonymous
New Divide anonymous
BOP anonymous
VIBEZ anonymous
Suge anonymous
Baby Sitter anonymous
Alone Again, Naturally anonymous
Patiently Waiting (Ft. Eminem) anonymous
Everytime anonymous

(We won't give out your email)