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Song Parodies -> "American Pie Explained (Buddy Holly 2012 Tribute)"

Original Song Title:

"American Pie"

Original Performer:

Don McLean

Parody Song Title:

"American Pie Explained (Buddy Holly 2012 Tribute)"

Parody Written by:

Tommy Turtle

The Lyrics

Don McLean's classic was, of course, an autobiographical retelling, both of his own coming of age, and of the (simultaneous) birth and growth of Rock 'n Roll. And especially, a memorial tribute to the tragic loss of three early pioneers of Rock. So, for this year's annual tribute to said tragedy, what could be more appropriate than to parody McLean's OS? (with some switching of POV between Don's shoes and TT's shell, thanks.)

The information covered in previous tributes (links below), including the strange twists of fate that determined who did and didn't get on the fatal plane, etc., won't be repeated here. Also, a complete Buddy Holly discography is in the 2010 tribute. (Missed 2008; can't remember why -- probably Half-Timer's Disease.) The most detailed previous explanation of TOS by this writer, which would fill in many gaps here, is in
"American Pie", smooshed with (rewritten to the melody of, and vice versa) "The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald".

2006 tribute
2007 tribute
2009 tribute
2010 tribute
2011 tribute
In Nineteen Fifty-Nine
I was a teen-ager
But knew music was career for me
I'd practice hard, and faithf'lly train
For day when I would entertain
And hoped, such smiling faces, I would see

But February Third changed all that
A plane took off, but then would fall flat
Paper route? Don't bother
I couldn't throw another
Just married; baby on the way
Grief, miscarriage, caused: I'd tears, display
Could music, I, henceforth, still play
The day that trio died?

"So long, three": Buddy, Ritchie, J. P.
I was raised in Lous'iana: "levee" ref'rence: place me
While my redneck pals would toss a slug back, or three
Sure, sh*t happens, Lord, but please tell me why
Why do such good people, young, die?

In High School, an av'rage guy
Who would wholly worship God on high
A believer, through and through
Could music be Salvation's way?
(And 'haps, with girl, to slowly sway?)
Thought I could have my faith and meet--her, too   [1]

Well, I have a crush on sweet, chic chick
But a feeling: pit of stomach, sick
With him, in gym, you dance
But won't give me even one glance
'Cause adolescence: rough; could drive to drink
All dressed up: white sport coat and carnation, pink   [2]
But optimism: must rethink
Hopes: girl and music, sink

(Now TT speakin')
'S why guy penned "American Pie"
Writes a doozy: man from Luzyann; tears oozing, not dry
So this good ol' boy, his lyrics skill did he ply
An epic masterpiece! None: classic, deny
This'll be his tribute "Good-bye"

Pass: a decade; Nineteen Sixty-Nine:
The Beatles, Stones, on the charts do fine
Not country, hillbill', R & B
Dylan knocked off King - Elvis, Queen Li'l Rich
Lots of "death songs": James Dean (bad lane switch)   [3]
Music, "folk"; Paul, Peter, Mary: niche

As Chuck Berry, blind Ray, sliding down
The Brits have come to burn the town   [4]
Old order overturned
New rhythms, sounds were learned
Rich? Switch: Beatles' taxes bite like sharks   [5]
The British bands all left their marks
Sinatra's dirge, career re-sparks   [6]
Replace... dead? None, provide

We were singing,
"Mi-chelle", Oh, "Please, Please Me", "Liebt Sie"   [7]
Lucy's diamonds in the sky, but My! - That's not LSD   [8]
Those long-haired boys were gettin' rich as could be
And seein' golden records stacked as we buy --
-- Ev'ry novel style they try

Gruff guy, rough guy, Sharon Tate was snuffed. Why?
The Byrds: "We've nukes, far more than enough. Why?"
From US, fly; in England, land
Some jerk cried "Foul"! Song was banned   [9]
The "Oldies" tried to regain command
While Bob Dylan's motorcycle: crash, unplanned

Now the airways aired such choices, grand
Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club band
"Garage", "Surf", "Motown", "Soul"
Wow, lots of ways to rock and roll!
Though so many tried: win "Crown of Pop"
The British bands remained on top
But why must three stars, from sky, drop?   [10]
Doused flame, like met'orite

Resume our singing:
Fans, fans of American bands
Very fertile were The Turtles, although flippers for hands
"It Ain't Me, Babe", "Together, Happy", we stand
And singin, "Elenore", "You Showed Me"; I see
"It's With Me That She'd Rather Be"   [11]

Oh, and there we were, at Woodstock Farm
A demograph filled with alarm
The Fifties gone; we can't go back
The new Kings: Richards, Keith, and Jagger, Mick
Much smoke - of all kinds, air was thick
Crowds worshiping Satanic magic, black

Gig: Altamont, bad place-ment for stage   [12]
And crystal meth brought burst of rage
Hell's Angels: guards? Good choice?
Assailant stopped: rejoice!
Now, as the Sixties' years come to an end
"Peace, Love". and hippies, no more, trend
We lost inno-cence; path, Devil's, wend
'Cause wounds, can music, mend

Satan's snarling,
"Roar! Swore: mirthful music, no more
"Took your best of years and left in tears, in famine and war
"Those three young boys, 'haps knockin': Heaven's front door"   [13]
Tail stingin', "Population, Hell, gonna soar
"Happiness is what I abhor"

She asks the Lord, "Mercedes Benz"   [14]
But poor Janis: blues; so, blue, life ends
On hero-in, an overdose
Don went back to the Cath'lic Church
Though he felt it left him in the lurch
But no longer any comfort; Don's morose

Pro-testers, hip-pies: run amok
Sad lovers cry. Art? All: writer's block
No more good songs were written   [15]
Creative spirit: smitten
For Don: Trinity, no more God-head
'Cause Buddy, Rich, and Big Bopper: dead
Beat brought, brand new game; genre, bred
But Don: Inside, he died

I hope I'm bringin' --
-- Laud, strong, for Don's wonderful song
Clocking history: Rock's mystery; helped, fame, to prolong   [16]
(It's the DJ's friend, at almost eight minutes long)
Singin' "Rock 'n Roll and faith are no more"
"Buddy, Ritchie, Bopper: fate, poor"

Tommy's writin'
"Fie, fie, what cruel twists Life supplies!
"Don gets baptized, but faith, chastised by this tragic demise
"In reader-land, I hope there's no more dry eyes
"Buddy, Ritchie, Bopper: Rest in peace, guys!"

Any merit found in the rest of this parody can't possibly make up for an utterly shameless stretch for the sake of punning.
"Have my cake, and eat it, too"
"Have my faith, and meet-her, too" ... with "meet--her" really intended as "meter" = "rhythm" = music:
"Have my faith, and music, too" ... but also the ref to his crush on the chick with the other guy - meet her.

"A White Sport Coat (and a Pink Carnation)" -- 1957 hit by Marty Robbins.
Surely McLean had this #1 Country hit (#2 on the Pop chart) in mind when he wrote the "pink carnation"?

(For Those Who DK The Song Only):
Guy's prom date blows him off at the last minute, leaving him with his coat and the flower for her, "all dressed up and nowhere to go" Don is telling a similar tale here, of a girl who doesn't return his affections.

On September 30, 1955, budding movie star James Dean was fatally hit by a driver coming from the opposite direction who was attempting to take a fork in the road. This and the Holly plane crash spawned a spate of "teen tragedy" songs from the late 1950s through the 1960s. (Link in the outro.) The genre continues to this day, though it tapered off sharply after the 1970s and the end of the Vietnam War, etc. Folk music (next line) also often had a sad or mournful quality (think "Blowin' In The Wind"). One more "dirge" reference in the next verse.

[4] The ref to the 1814 burning of Washington, D. C. by the British (Where are they now, when we really *need* them? ;) can't be blamed on TT. "British Invasion" was a term widely used by DJs and news media to describe the new dominance of US Pop by The Beatles and those who followed from across The Pond.

DML makes brilliant use of a fortuitous coincidence of names here.
Karl Marx was author of the "Communist Manifesto".
Vladimir *Lenin* became an ardent devotee, led the Bolshevik Revolution, and created the Socialist Soviet state.
John *Lennon* may or may not ever have used the word, "socialism", but his world--famous OS, "Imagine", says it all:

"Imagine no possessions"

I. e., nobody can own anything, and everyone can take anything from anyone without earning it. (Q: Did Lennon give away all of his money and possessions, living a simple life? Just askin'.... ) Hence, "Lennon read a book on Marx."

[OPTIONAL Side Note]
It's funny how things can change when the shoe is on the other foot. Writer George Harrison said that their 1966 song, "Taxman", (was written) "... when I first realised that even though we had started earning money, we were actually giving most of it away in taxes. It was and still is typical." The Beatles' sales put them in the UK's top tax bracket of 95%, which had been introduced by Harold Wilson's Labour government.

"Let me tell you how it will be
"There's one for you, nineteen for me"

TT to the help of the mathly-challenged: 95% tax rate = you earn 20 pounds or dollars. You pay 19 in taxes and get to keep *one* for yourself. Gee. (In light of current demagoguery, more needs to be said about the "effectiveness" of this, but it's off-topic to both OS and parody, so there's a footnote *below* the copyright, on the off-chance that anyone is interested.)

[6] "My Way"

Not referenced in TOS, but consistent with general story line: The new sounds displaced Sinatra's genre, though he did just fine throughout the 1960s selling albums reprising his old hits. "My Way", essentially the story of a man facing his own imminent mortality (sort of a "dirge", as reffed in TOS), brought The Thin Man one of his relatively few singles hits of the decade, the other notable exception being the song that was the OS for yesterday's short, light parody. That OS gave FS #1's on the US Pop chart, US Easy Listening chart, and UK Singles chart; his best-selling album ever; and for TT, a cheap plug for yesterday's post.

OPTIONAL: Why were the dirges sung "in the dark", other than that "dark" alliterates nicely with "dirges", and rhymes with "park"? DK what was in Don't head, but the very young Turtlet (who is much younger than DML, TUVM) went to bed each night with a cheap Japanese transistor radio under the pillow, listening to both the happy songs and to those "teen tragedy" songs mentioned in the previous f/n about James Dean. They were sung, and heard, in the dark.
(Which also explains why TT can't get those oldies out of his pea-brain and his parody repertoire.)

[7] ""Sie Liebt Dich", German-language release of "She Loves You", a big hit there, and squeaked onto the US Billboard Hot 100 at #97.

[8] ... and if you believe that, there's some land in the Everglades I'd like to sell you. (Don't come during the rainy season.)

The Byrds toured England in 1965, then recorded "Eight Miles High" toward the end of that year. When a pundit wrote that the song, and the title itself, were references to illicit recreational drug usage, the song was banned across much of the US.
(TT: *All* the songs back then were about drugs. Hey, I was *there*! ... well, not *quite* all. ;)

The group strenuously denied this, saying that it was about the flight for their British tour, which is indeed referenced in the song, but in the early 1980s, co-writer David Crosby said, ""Of course it was a drug song! We were stoned when we wrote it."
OS: "It landed foul on the grass." Grass = marijuana, and the song didn't "land" well in the US at the time.

The relevance to the story line is the appearance of yet another new genre, "Psychedelic Rock".

[OPTIONAL]: A Wikipedia source claims that commercial airliners fly only up to seven miles high, thereby "refuting" the defense that it was about the trip and the flight. Hogwash. Seven miles = 36,960 ft., or about Flight Level 370 (37,000 feet above sea level, adjusted for variations in ambient air pressure). Eight miles = 42,240ft, = Flight Level 430. A Boeing 727 of that era could make Flight Level 410, (~41,000') which is still closer to eight miles high than to seven. In any event. the group's earlier defense, that "Eight' sounded more poetic than "Seven", uh, "flies". Scans better, too.

OS lines "Do you recall what was revealed / The day the music died?" have long been among the most difficult for Pie-alyzers. (Avoid permanent Pie-alysis if you can! -- a little Med joke there.) Can't find the alleged source -- Beatles or other song, or short story -- about a man who died, leaving behind nothing of the slightest interest. In other words, revealing that he did nothing interesting, exciting, or unusual with his life -- how sad. (Readers, help?)

We know now how much we lost on The Day The Music Died. Why include this ref? Best guesstimate: To contrast a pointless life with three pointless deaths. IMHO. YMMV.

[11] "She'd Rather Be With Me" - lesser-known, underplayed, under-rated despite charting at #3, possibly overshadowed by their signature #1 smash that year, "Happy Together".

[12] This whole verse is explained in the "American Pie" parody/rewrite ("smoosh") linked in the intro, footnotes 8-10.
Pacing note: "Gig: Altamont" = "Oh, and as I" - 4 syl each.

[13] Author came up with last part on his own, then realized it's *similar* to part of a song title and line. Not excerpted, and a common-enough metaphor. Sorry, Bob, no copyright credit due.

[14] Car's name has a hyphen; song title doesn't.

[soapbox] Couldn't agree more, with rare exceptions. Which is why Your Humble Servant rarely parodies anything past the early 70s - DKTOS, cuz CSTLTT. (can't stand to listen to them) [/soapbox]

[16] "mystery" -- the age-old one, as exemplified by : Why do bad things happen to good people?

When Don McLean was asked what "American Pie" meant, he was reported to have said that it meant he'd never have to work again.
(He was right. But wow, what a lot of 124-line work for us parodists, eh?)

Private Message to "On Ye Olde Jolly Holly Trolly" re: comment @ 2010 Holly tribute:
"BTW, would you mind publishing your 2012 tribute a bit early--you know, *before* The Apocalypse!"
If this parody makes it onto the Web, then yes, it was in time to beat the Doomsday. Less than eleven months to go, then you can stop worrying! xD

Teen tragedy songs

"American Pie" and "The day the music died" © 1971 Don McLean.
"A White Sport Coat (and a Pink Carnation)" © 1957 Estate of Marty Robbins? Columbia Records?
"Taxman" © Estate of George Harrison? Producer George Martin?
"Imagine" © Estate of John Lennon?

All else © 2012 Tommy Turtle. All rights reserved. E-mail:

Footnote to "Taxman" etc. PLEASE, if it's not of interest, pretty please do not feel compelled to read it.

In 1955, British unemployment reached a postwar low of barely 1%. (Sound good, anyone -- US, UK, wherever?) The breakdown of the Colonial system of course required adjustments, but manufacturing and construction remained strong. However, there was a major push toward nationalization of private enterprises and to the welfare state.

As noted, Harold Wilson's Labour Party arose to power in 1964, "soaked the rich", "made the top 1% pay their fair share" (which was apparently 95%), devalued the Pound in 1967, years before POTUS Nixon devalued the dollar (f/n #6). But the UK fared even worse than the US during the turbulent 1970s, with uncompetitive markets, massive strikes ("entitlement society"), and a 400% rise in the unemployment rate from the post-war low.

Enough details for this purpose. Bottom line: "Soak the rich" and the welfare state bring neither prosperity nor harmony, but rather incite economic class warfare and envy, with nine million work days lost to strikes within a short period. The gap between the wealthy and the working/middle income sectors wasn't narrowed; it was widened. (cough)

See "Winter of Discontent", which brought in Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Government. Like her eventual good friend, POTUS Ronald Reagan, austerity measures to cure the illness brought temporary pain (so does surgery to remove a cancer), but the subsequent recovery was called an "economic miracle". By the end of 1986, Britain was enjoying an economic boom that saw unemployment "go into freefall".

Now, why is it, exactly, that certain US politicians want to relive Britain's mistakes, instead of learning from them?

FACT CHECK, from the Congressional Budget Office:

The 10 percent of US households with the highest incomes pay more than 70 percent of all federal income taxes collected, current hot air to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Tax Policy Center estimates that 46 percent of households, mostly low- and medium-income households, will pay no federal income taxes this year, using built-in deductions for dependents, health care costs, etc.

It's true that a few households with incomes above $1 million/yr pay no Federal income tax. In 2009, that was less than 1% of all such high-income households. Usually, by complying with incentives Congress put in the Tax Code to encourage, say, the lending of money to State and local governments, by making interest on such loans ("municipal bonds") tax-free.

You want to eliminate that? No problem. But then, the local govs will have to pay a higher interest rate, competitive with taxable interest rates elsewhere. So the local taxpayers will pay more in local taxes. And since every State, and most cities, etc. issue such bonds, your Federal income tax may drop, but your local taxes will increase. It doesn't grow on trees, people.

[The end -- and given the time involved in this project, the author hopes that he can be forgiven for the various plugs and orations, but if not, censure accepted in advance.]

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Voting Results

Pacing: 4.5
How Funny: 4.4
Overall Rating: 4.5

Total Votes: 20

Voting Breakdown

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    Pacing How Funny Overall Rating
 1   2
 2   0
 3   0
 4   1
 5   17

User Comments

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Barry J. Mitchel - February 03, 2012 - Report this comment
What can I say here, after you say you're sorry (for exhausting us amIrighters)?
There should be a score higher than 555!
By "Elinore", did you refer to "Eleanor Rigby"?
Garrison Keillor can be expected to eulogize Buddy Holly tomorrow (5 PM CST on PBS radio). He didn't mention him in today's "Writers' Almanac", though.
Old Man Ribber - February 03, 2012 - Report this comment
TT - Pure magnificence! This is the kind of stuff that this site used to be about. ;D
Es Ewe Vee? - February 03, 2012 - Report this comment

BRAVO! Verily, thou art the Don Juan of the Don Song--and ♪♫ Nobody doesn't like Vera Lee ♫♪!

AIR's own living littoral lumenAIRy n' TTrickypaedia pulls another all-Righter to knock our collective socks n' rocks off with this tour de farce exposition of a truly complex classic. Telegraphic versing in setting of already ~5^3-line song allows for max imparting of info, densely rich (richly dense?) with erudition and insighT on all matters animal, mineral, rockable and taxable!

I can't Imagine pulling this off myself and must marvel at the Mentat mind that manages it with such seeming ease---Dune no how you do it!

PS: So it's not TOO easy for ewe, your *next* Am Pie's intro should be in the form of WofEFG and the outro/footnotes in the form of BoRap!
Callmelennie - February 03, 2012 - Report this comment
I had been working on the assumption that John Barry was the most talented parodist around. Until I saw this ...
Mark Scotti - February 03, 2012 - Report this comment
An EXPLOSION of creative beauty. You've outdone yourself, turtle..
AFW - February 03, 2012 - Report this comment
You've taken this difficult to understand, classic and given it superb simplicity..good to see ya' back, TT
WarrenB - February 03, 2012 - Report this comment
You've obviously been saving up...
Missed you being here, but good to have you back. The references to the 60s were right on target. And I really liked the way you came back to McLean at the end of the parody. This was pretty brilliant. Kudos.
Leo Keough - February 03, 2012 - Report this comment
Very impressive how each of your parody verses explains the meanings of each corresponding OS verse!!!...555!!!
Tommy Turtle - February 03, 2012 - Report this comment
Barry J. Mitchel: No, I meant "Elenore", by The Turtles, as said in the song.
But far more than atoned for by that awesome supranumeric, but not supernumerary in the slightest, vote! Thanks! .. .and ... I'm sorry. ;)

Old Man Ribber: Yes, it was. And have considered doing an APie about the loss of the former site, paralleling OS's mourning for a tragedy. DK how it would go over, though it's partially written. Thanks for v/c.

Es Ewe Vee?: Somehow, my measly parody suddenly seems dwarfed by your super-comment-powers! -- complete with, uh, "notes" heh! ... ("verily/Vera Lee" a special ROFL!) Thanks, and try to avoid getting on Pie-alysis!

Callmelennie: He was. (Noob TT idolized, then learned, from him.) He probably still is. He (in his own words) chose to go for quantity vs. quality , a loss to this site comparable to the loss memorialized in TOS. Will link you to a few of TT's many tributes to JAB in a moment, to not clog the page for the rest of the replies. Thanks for very kind v/c.

Mark Scotti: Thank you. (DK yet whether you saw reply to your comment @ Thursday's, re: Sunday.)

AFW: Back atcha - will probably crawl back in burrow for six more weeks, at least -- this was enough for a while! -- and thanks for v/c.
Tommy Turtle - February 03, 2012 - Report this comment
@ WarrenB and Leo Keough: Sorry, we cross-posted.

WarrenB: Actually, no, I've been procrastinating....
    Calvin: "I can't be creative until I'm in the right mood."
    Hobbes: "What mood is that?"
    Calvin: "Last-minute panic."
What Es Ewe Vee? said about pulling an "all-Righter" was not a joke. (SUV knows, from time-stamps on e-mails.) Barely got it submitted before Friday morning's deadline, which accounts for the number of nits in it that I now see, which would have been fixed in the usual two hours of "preview", and with non-blurry eyes.
          Thanks for the very kind comments; have missed you at the very few posts I've made during the past year or so, and sorry I've missed yours. Well, as Karl Marx said (or was it Groucho?), "Work is the curse of the drinking class." xD ... work is the curse of the parodying class, too, if TT had any. ... Did I say, "Thanks"? :) (and thanks to Bill Watterson for his © characters)

Leo Keough: From one who's no slouch himself (and also sorely missed -- Idea! Reunion Tour! We'd have to get the alien abductors to give back the real John Barry, but what a concept!) ... where was I? oh, yeah... From one who was already one of the elite when noob TT arrived here, that's an extra-special compliment, and TUVM.
Tommy Turtle @ Callmelennie - February 04, 2012 - Report this comment
Callmelennie TribuTTes to John A. Barry over the years:
      Makes reference to the friendly "rivalry" that developed between JB and TT, which TT "conceded" in this parody.
Outro comments have links to three of Barry's five-part series on the "vast wasteland" that is television. (Phrase was from former FCC Commissioner Newton Minow, whose 1961 speech called TV a "vast wasteland".)
      Barry's series inspired TT's first-ever parody of Hamlet, "TV, Or Not TV", as acknowedged in the intro to it. That quickly rose to the top of TT's hit chart (page views), where it remains to this day, occasionally trading the #2 spot with a parody about feminine hygiene products (?! - what does that say about the readership? heh heh! ;) The Hamlet that Barry inspired:
    (Side note: Comment from Fiddlegirl there inspired a reply that became a posted parody the next day, but that's O/T to Barry -- except for how writes can inspire, and draw inspiration from, each other.)
More on the "friendly rivalry" in the vocabulary arena.
A few readers may not have realized it was a tribute to a parody written by JAB the previous day (although it said so in the intro, but nobody ever reads those, and he was referred to four times in the lyrics.)

Acknowledges, and inspired by, JBs 300+ spins on "I Put A Spell On You":

Group tributes:
17 authors plus ChuckyG were tributed in a trilogy posted on one day. Barry gets the first verse in this one. Not much, but hopefully, "multum in parvo".

This one would be mostly about John's prolific output, except that TT's reply to JB's kind comment enlarged that.

Here, ChuckyG is the first tributee, followed by John as the first author tributed, and no, that was not an accident ;)

I left a comment at your spin on "I Am A Rock/Barack".

EVERYONE: Sorry about all the plugs, but this is the first time I've met callmelennie, who seems to have arrived two months ago. The comment was certainly flattering, but also a bit embarrassing. So these "plugs" are not for my own vanity, but to be fair to John Barry, and to show a little bit of humility in TT. (What? TT has a shred of humility? Who knew? ... Who even *suspected? ;-D )
"Retro"bate - February 04, 2012 - Report this comment
Wow...The great TT resumes his place in the TTop TTier of the "IN" crowd here-- INspired, INformative, INteresting, and INimitable INdeed! :)

Anything I might add has already been said, and in a much more clever manner than I can muster at the moment. R.I.P to those we've lost, and to youth and innocence in general-- always gone too soon. 555
Peter Andersson - February 04, 2012 - Report this comment
Thank you for your tips on linking, I know how to do that on my own website but for some reason I've tried here twice before and failed, not any more (I think), check the Monday update for some recognition (I'd already submitted one more without before I saw, and the order on the front page is random I think, so it'll be on my "second" of the day, whatever that means come Monday).
Patrick - February 04, 2012 - Report this comment
Just a few minutes before I got to the computer I heard a tribute on the radio to Cowboy Copas who died in the same plane crash that killed Hawkshaw Hawkins and Patsy Cline. I believe they had been performing here in Kansas City, Kansas, just about six blocks from where I'm sitting now. A very nice paraphrase of the original song with all the "mysteries" explained. Had a disk jockey friend (now deceased) who used to lament the negative effect he felt the Beatles and the psychedelic era had on popular American music. Drugs had a lot to do with the culture, or loss of it. Glad to see you back.
Patrick - February 04, 2012 - Report this comment
One of my first LP records was the Turtles album containing their version of "Eve of Destruction". I agree with your explanation of "dirges" as those "death songs" such as "Last Kiss", "Teen Angel", "Tell Laura I Love Her", etc. I remember staying up until the wee hours of the morning trying to pull in distant AM stations. KAAY in Little Rock, WLS Chicago. One night even picked up KDKA in Pittsburgh, Penn. Do kids even do that anymore? Do they know what a transistor radio is? During the 1965-68 era I listened more to country music, back when it wasn't "cool". Even heard Radio Havana announcing the annual Cuban sugar cane harvest statistics accompanied by the The Archies "Sugar, Sugar". Hadn't thought of that for years.
Tommy Turtle - February 04, 2012 - Report this comment
"Retro" "bait" (heh! ;): Wow - "I'm in with the in crowd"? :-D (another oldie) ... "than I can muster at the moment." Hmm, I winder why? J/K! ... I'd like to have my youth back, but not quite "all' of the innocence, if ya git mah drift... xD Thanks for the comment and the vote of 5 'N's. :-)

Peter Andersson: I knew you had a site of your own, but not everyone codes their own site, or they use automated/drag-n-drop tools. DK whether you K HTML (and maybe KHTML, LOL)) ... DK why your previous tries didn't work; did they work in Preview?
      Anyway, thanks for the feedback. Crawling back in the burrow for a while -- this was, uh, "something" of an effort -- but if you have any further problems, leave me a note here -- or click the reCaptcha link right after the copyright notice, and e-mail me.

Patrick: Lots of tragedies over the years, certainly. Yes, those were three of the top "death songs" -- didn't want to include even a partial list, as the f/n were, uh, "long enough" already; hence, the link in the outro to the WikiP compilation.
      No, they DK what a "transistor radio" is, or probably, even a transistor. ... btw, "KHTML" is *not* a radio station ;), and LOL at Cuba harvest to Archies. Evil influence of decadent (literally! - "causing [tooth] decay" ;) Capitalist culture invading the glorious Worker's Paradise, which exported almost as many people on inner tubes as sugar. Thanks for read/comment.
Norman Zavlandid - February 04, 2012 - Report this comment
Top-hole and spiffing - an all round Buddy good effort old chap.
"Those long-haired boys were gettin' rich as could be
And seein' golden records stacked as we buy"
Here's a coincidence - I've just seen a BBC4 docu tonight about 70's UK rock bands doing the US stadium tours. Bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull, ELP & ELO. They did get rich from record sales but did you know that a lot of their US tours ran at a loss. They used to hire enormous entourages of flunkeys (UK only expression?) to indulge their every whim, as well as private planes etc. Each band tried to outdo the next in being extravagant. What a way to spend your 20's! (age, not dollars)
Tommy Turtle - February 05, 2012 - Report this comment
Norman Zavlandid: I thought we *invented* flunkeys. Every politician travels (a/k/a "junkets") with an entourage of them -- at taxpayer expense, rather than at fan's expense.

Yeah, spending my 20s surrounded by adoring groupies -- that would be a b*tch. ;-D Thanks for v/c.
Bead-babe - February 06, 2012 - Report this comment
TT, your talent is beyond astounding! A superb job on a complex song, one of my favorites... All this and sunsets, too! You are a man of depth and humor!
Tommy Turtle - February 06, 2012 - Report this comment
Bead-babe: "depth", LOL! -- yeah, turtles are known for that. ;) Thanks for reading -- and for voting and commenting.
Full moon is today, 7 Feb - don't miss the moon rise!

Moon rise; sunset.... Fiddler (and Turtle) On The Roof:
Check it out - February 09, 2012 - Report this comment
Tommy Turtle - February 09, 2012 - Report this comment
Check it out: GB seems to follow TT's line pretty closely. I left a comment asking whether his insights, which were posted six days after this parody was posted, were in any way derived from this parody. (Lots of other possible sources, of course.) It's under the name, "tommy".

It will be interesting to see what reply, if any, but views of this page are way up from yesterday alone. Could it go viral?

In any event, thanks much, Cio.

btw, this in no way reflects on agreements or differences of opinion between Mr. Beck and myself in any other area.
Michael Pacholek - February 09, 2012 - Report this comment
A great job. Finding a complaint is like looking for a needle in a haystack, but I did find 2 minor ones. Don McLean, like John Fogerty (Bay Area), is not from Louisiana. He's from New Rochelle, New York, went to the town's Iona Prep, and then went to Villanova University outside Philadelphia -- for a time, at the same time as Jim Croce, who, of course, also died in a plane crash. And "the sacred store" isn't a church, or THE Church, it's the Fillmore East, which closed in 1971, right before he wrote the song -- hence "the man there said the music wouldn't play." The goofs don't matter much, though, and I can appreciate how tough it is to pull this song off, having done it a number of times myself -- the number being 6 thus far.
Tommy Turtle - February 09, 2012 - Report this comment
Michael Pacholek: Wow, thanks. Fooled me, and undoubtedly a lot of others as well. Could you help by explaining all the "good old boy" and "levee" references, from a Northeaster?

"McLean declined to say anything definitive about the lyrics until 1978. Since then McLean has stated that the lyrics are also somewhat autobiographical and present an abstract story of his life from the mid-1950s until the time he wrote the song in the late 1960s".

Sounds like Louisiana to me (and a lot of people), although I've verified what you said. Someone mentioned a Chevy commercial - maybe shot in Louisiana, near the bayous and levees?

"The theatre that became the Fillmore East was originally built as a Yiddish theater in 1926,.... "
    OK, there's "sacred".

"""... the Fillmore East quickly became known as "The Church of Rock and Roll,"..."
    Ahh, a double-meaning. The former sacred synagogue became the "Church" of R'nR. But apparently, McLean himself never played there, AFACT; just wen there for the other acts?

But we still have to reconcile that with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost catching a train for the (West) Coast -- IDEA!

"The Fillmore East was a companion to Graham's Fillmore Auditorium, and its successor, the Fillmore West, in San Francisco, Graham's home base."

So, the "spirit" of Rock moved to Fillmore West -- "caught the last train for (San Francisco) when the Fillmore East closed".

However, there are so many references to religious faith throughout the song, that I still think that overall, the tragedy and the era caused McLean to question his faith.

Many thanks for the info, Michael, and if you have any other bits to share, please do. I could incorporate them into next year's tribute. :-D
TT PS @ Michael Pacholek - February 09, 2012 - Report this comment
Congratulations on six APies. This isn't a numbers competition, at least to TT, but since it was brought up, this one makes eight (three including co-author Fiddlegirl, although not this one). Only saying, yes, I and we appreciate how difficult it is to do this one well.
    ... but that doesn't stop a number of people from trying, almost 200 at the moment. Some excellent, and the rest run the gamut, as with any frequently-done OS. Cheers.
TT @ Check it out - February 09, 2012 - Report this comment
Comment at The Blaze (hope it stays there):

At Beck's site:

Comments there don't have specific URLs, but try a Find for "tommy". Thanks again for the link.
Glen S - March 28, 2012 - Report this comment
Mind boggling in its scope. Sometimes I delude myself into thinking I've spent "A LOT OF TIME" on one parody or another, but the sheer depth of this is moving. I also didn't know about any 'rivalry' between you and JB, but I'll watch for that, if indeed I don't start slacking off again and wait weeks in between my site checks.
Tommy Turtle - March 28, 2012 - Report this comment
Glen S.: That rivalry ended a long time ago, as mentioned, when John chose to go for quantity vs. quality (his own words). I was saddened, but it's certainly his choice to make. .... At a couple of other TT epics, John said very nice things, like being humbled (his word, again) by TT post, and wondering why he wasted his time on trivial stuff vs. epics. I wondered, too ...hate to see such talent as his wasted. ( No plugs -- done enough of that in this thread. :)

Thanks for the very kind comments and vote.
Meriadoc - August 11, 2012 - Report this comment
TT, it was my understanding that the 'good ole boys' and 'levee' parts were referring to the murder of three civil rights workers in MS who's bodies were found buried in a levee.
Tommy Turtle - August 12, 2012 - Report this comment
Meriadoc: Interesting! Hadn't heard that theory before, and Pachy never returned to answer the question about why the repeated "levee" refs.

So (theoretically) McLean is using this event as yet another example of the tragic, turbulent times. And the "good ol' boys" (Klan) would surely be drinkin' whiskey and whatever at some times. But why say,

"This'll be the day that *I* die"?
-- when it was the day that they would commit murder themselves, not die, as the original Trio and the CRights trio did?
    Perhaps McLean is saying that they're going to kill *him* (DML), at least in spirit, just as the deaths of the three memorialized (and the others reffed -- James Dean, etc.) -- killed him in spirit?

I like it! .... but the fact that it's used as the refrain, sung six times during the song and echoed (minus one line) after the last refrain, sort of shifts the focus from Buddy/Richie/Bopper to the Civil Rights case, which happened more than five years after the plane crash. And the CR workers weren't known for music, AFAIK...
    This is why I wish that the refrain could be tied to the original "day the music died", 3 Feb 1959, although the Civil Rights movement, which had many tragic casualties, certainly deserves referencing, along with the Helter Skelter (Sharon Tate) killings, and other murders and deaths of that era.
    Holly and Richardson, being born in Texas, could be "good ol' boys", but Valens was from Los Angeles, and Hispanic. Hence the (incorrect) assumption here, duly corrected by Michael P., that McLean himself was recounting his youth in Louisiana, or some other Southern, good-ol-boy State that not only has earthen dams, but calls them "levees".

Thanks for tossing out a very provocative idea, and one of considerable "Merr'y-it". (From the sublime to the ridiculous, c'est moi.)
Peregrin - August 12, 2012 - Report this comment
I'm considering marking McLean down on his OS because he didn't vary the refrain. Too much repetition ;)
TT @ Peregrin: - August 12, 2012 - Report this comment
ROFL!!! .... but don't we do that only to *parodies* that don't vary? IIUC, it's not a "RE-frain" if it doesn't have a fair amount of repetition in it.

(I know, you were merely responding to comment about how the repetition shifted the focus of TOS. Point duly noted. :)
Agrimorfee - November 01, 2012 - Report this comment
TT you are so...Encyclopedic. Comment on Footnote 5---that was a major influence on the Firesign Theatre, as you may recall (or google image "Firesign Theater HOW CAN YOU BE IN IN TWO PLACES AT ONCE") ;)
Lifeliver - November 30, 2012 - Report this comment
Wow! The footnotes are even more epic than the parody, a tour de force equal to McLean himself, and leading in all sorts of interesting directions.

I had to skip over the British fiscal history, I'm afraid, though I was well aware of the background to the Beatles' 'Taxman' (nothing cryptic about that one - names are named). I didn't know about the controversy surrounding 'Eight Miles High', as it was not released as a single in Australia. I didn't know singing those words could turn me in to a drug addict. I had the album, which I think was called 'Fifth Dimension', but I was never much of a Byrds fan. Anyway, I learned a lot of things I didn't know from your notes and the comments.

As for pie-alysis, I think a lot of the interpretations made from various quarters are a bit of a stretch, e.g. civil rights movement, shades of Louisiana. 'Took the last train for the coast' could well be about Bill Graham's Fillmores. 'Dirges in the dark' could well mean transistors under the pillow, or the dark protest songs that became fashionable in the mid-60s, but I think you've come up with the most likely explanation: it alliterates well and rhymes with park.

Which leads me to my take on the song: about half of it is allegorical. The rest is words that sound good together and that have layers of possible meaning. McLean, a master lyricist, knew this and that's why he's kept mum on comprehensive explanations. The mysteries make the masterpiece. The main thing is that the words are evocative of the life and times of the first wave of postwar baby-boomers as expressed by popular music, in a song that feels good to sing. 'Drove my chevy to the levee', 'Teach me to dance real slow', 'Dig those rhythm and blues' suggest good times had by all and a sense of subcultural ethos and camaraderie.

As for the tragedies that are the central motif, I think McLean's point is that these events were world-shattering to those of a certain age in a way that the real movers and shakers - Eisenhower, Kruschev, Mao et al. - could never understand. 'The day the music died' is a dramatic turn of phrase but arguably untrue. In fact, the reverse happened. Teen music and culture exploded in the decades to come and the commercial music industry became dominated by the tastes and demands of those under thirty for the last half a century.

McLean still felt a pang of nostalgia for the simple joys of his youth, expressed through his love of those fifties hitmakers. But that's something he shares with young people of every generation, no matter what the fashionable music of the day is. It's why I go back and listen to the Beatles or the Four Seasons or Donovan or Peter Paul and Mary, even though their music has been long surpassed and outmoded. Life was less complicated then. It rejuvenates because you feel that age again. I think that's what McLean was trying to express. And how memorably he did so. Sorry Madonna, but 'American pie' did not mean you.
Tommy Turtle - December 01, 2012 - Report this comment
Agrimorfee: Sorry I missed your comment; DK how it slipped by. I wasn't familiar with Firesign Theatre, so thanks for that info, and for the read/comment.

Lifeliver: I agree with your Big Picture of the song. although certain specific incidents are clearly cited (Altamont, Helter Skelter), etc. Also agree about McL's expression of nostalgia. Thanks for the detailed and perceptive comment, and LOL @ the last line. ;-D

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