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Song Parodies -> "American Pie"

Original Song Title:

"The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald"

Original Performer:

Gordon Lightfoot

Parody Song Title:

"American Pie"

Parody Written by:

Tommy Turtle

The Lyrics

Because last Friday's two smooshes, of doing "Major-General" to "Supercal..." , and of doing "Supercal..." to "Major-General" , were received favorably, here are a couple more Big Fourteens (i. e., two Big Sevens smooshed).

See what happens when you encourage the turtle? Do *not* encourage him, people! It only feeds his insanity!   :)

The years: come and gone, but the memory lives on
How rock music could make me not gloomy
If I had my chance to make sad people dance
Then some gals might perchance want to do me

But came February: swore I couldn't take one step more
From the newspaper headlines: felt empty
Don't know if I cried when I read: widowed bride
And three pals we remember died early

My Chevy, we'd ride; got to the levee, but dried
Good ol' boys, from their still, would dispense some
As moon-shine whiskey flows, take a swig; raise a toast!
Miss Amer-ican Pie was quite pleasin'

With God, come to terms, as the Book of Love confirms
Left bereft, rock and roll, you believe in?
Can music make right, when soul: guilt, felt pang?
Can you teach me to slow-dance with feeling?

The Jester inspires: for the King and Queen, sang
Elvis: rave; Rock, though, was prevailing   [1]
John Lennon and crew, in park, practiced a few
Singing dirge of disaster, we're reeling

So drawn by hate, came the murders: Sharon Tate   [2]
Men, assailants from Manson cult, slashing
Byrds: after-nuke cave; cast was easing pain   [3]   [4]
In first place, was the British Invasion   [5]

We gathered, place, same: fam'ly book lost (Star Trek™?)   [6]
All were mellow; none too rough, 'spite med'ia
It's said: had no time: a new pathway, begin
Then The Devil, with sin, blood, would show ya

So, Jack, be nimble, and ... holy water, cleanse your sin   [7]
Devil's worship puts you all in peril
The sacrifice rite, on that night, the flames would light
Their Satanic Majestic Quest, caroled

Does anyone know why Hell's Angels guard shows?   [8]
When the moods turn from peaceful to sour
But watching that stage, were my fists clenched in rage
I saw Satan was smiling, delighted

With knife, one slit up; the guy gun-waving dies   [9]
The concert was deep in disorder
The venue was changed, and the stage was rearranged [10]
Cost a life; 'haps contributed: slaughter

An era tolls, but still, we all sing
The undoing: Miss American Pie, gone
Those good ol' boys seem like a long-lost dream
"Bye, bye!": fans; three boys, take Four Horsemen   [11]

A lady I know walked on, very slow
Good news sought; ache; dreary news, render
Lovers' cryin'; kids: woe, as no merriment, they know
Poet's tales: dreams, forever engender

Went to musical hall; no result; none played
Bad-luck paradigm: roll, hexahedral   [12]
No church bell chime; it had been broken: long time
Coast train: men I admire and herald

Their legends live on; from the Fifties, they hand down:
An orig' take for all; niche, regrooming
But cheerier; instead of our grief that they're dead
We'll all hail and remember them, surely

Using (and agreeing with) most common OS interpretation: that the King in TOS was the *original* King of Rock, Elvis himself, but the new sounds exemplified by Bob Dylan (referred to as "the Jester", both for his sometimes-clown-like outfits, and for the presence of jesters, clowns, etc. in his songs - check out the "jugglers and clowns" line in Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone"), the Beatles, et al., were knocking Elvis off the charts. (The "Queen" is thought to refer to Little Richard, an acknowledged bisexual.)

An alternate interpretation is that this OS line refers to the Kennedys -- the King and Queen of "Camelot" -- who were present at a Washington, D.C. civil rights rally at which Dylan performed. But that doesn't explain
"While the King was looking down, the Jester stole his thorny crown"

JFK had his "crown" taken by assassination, but among all of the conspiracy theories out there, I don't remember Bob Dylan ever being mentioned as a suspect. ;)

[2] "Helter Skelter": the name that convicted killer Charles Manson gave to his scenario for apocalyptic war, which motivated his cult "family" for the murders of actress Sharon Tate (eight and a half months pregnant) and others. Manson was obsessed with The Beatles; got the name from their song by that name; and the words "helter skelter" were written in blood on the refrigerator in the home where the murders occurred..

[3] Hoped this was self-explanatory, but just in case: "after-nuke cave" = The Byrds' *fallout shelter*.

[4] "... with the Jester on the sidelines in a cast".
On July 29, 1966, Dylan crashed his motorcycle. Many biographers believe that the crash offered Dylan the much-needed chance to escape from the pressures that had built up around him due to his success. He withdrew from the public, saying "I had a family and I just wanted to see my kids" -- something that his hectic tour schedule had not permitted. So the cast, and the period of rest, eased his emotional pain as well as his physical.

[5] Continuing the theme started in [1]:
"The players (of the early sounds of Rock) tried to take the field;
"The marching band refused to yield" - "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", i. e., the Beatles, and by extension, the rest of the British Invasion of 1960s American rock, refused to yield their commanding position on the rock charts to the early pioneers like Elvis.

"There we were, all in one place" = Woodstock festival, summer of 1969.

"A generation, lost in space" (OK, that's a different TV show and movie from Star Trek, but it doesn't rhyme/match to OS "deck".) ... That generation was unsure of their place ("lost", figuratively), and the Woodstock concert was held only a few weeks after Apollo 11 successfully landed men on the Moon. ("in space") .... Third line = "With no time left to start again".

During the first few days of the festival, national media coverage emphasized the problems, including traffic and mud from the rain. Coverage became more positive by the end of the festival, in part because the parents of concertgoers called the media and told them, based on their children's phone calls, that their reporting was misleading.

A reporter for The New York Times asserted that he was pressured by editors to write a misleadingly-negative article about the event. He threatened to refuse to write the article until the paper's executive editor agreed to let him write the article as he saw fit. The eventual article dealt with issues of traffic jams and minor lawbreaking, but went on to emphasize cooperation, generosity, and the good nature of the festival-goers. When the festival was over, he wrote another article about the exodus of fans from the festival site and the lack of violence at the event. The chief medical officer for the event and several local residents were quoted as praising the festival-goers.

Compare this to the highly-contrasting event referred to later, in both OS and parody.

[7] (Covers the entire verse)
The "Jack be nimble" couplet in TOS is a reference to the 1968 Rolling Stones album, "Jumpin' Jack Flash".

From the Stones' 1967 album, "Their Satanic Majesties Request", and for other reasons (drug use, or a thousand others?), McLean refers to Mick Jagger and The Stones as "Devil" and "Satan". (Keeping in mind McLean's apparent Catholicism - the three men he admired most were The Father, Son, and The Holy Ghost, right?)

On December 6, 1969, The Rolling Stones organized and appeared at a free concert at Northern California's Altamont Speedway. Members of the infamous motorcycle gang, Hell's Angels, were invited. Stories differ on whether they were supposed to police the entire crowd; merely guard the equipment, or just sit at the edge of the stage and drink beer, making sure no one rushed the stage. The last theory has the most support. Their beer was allegedly paid for by the Stones' road manager.

Bad idea -- with both the crowd and the "guards" high on *something* (alcohol, LSD, etc.), there was one death, three serious accidents, and numerous instances of theft and vandalism. (And, uh, four *births* -- probably not the Angels' fault there. ;)

Hence OS line, "No Angel born in Hell could break that Satan's spell" -- Jagger's mesmerizing influence and incitement, presumably.

[9] An eighteen-year-old male, Meredith Hunter, tried to get onstage, along with other fans. One of the Angels punched him and chased him back into the crowd. Hunter returned, pulling a gun from his pocket, looking "crazy" to others, with apparent intent to harm Jagger or someone else on stage. An Angel rushed him with a knife, blocked his gun arm, and stabbed him to death. The Angel was charged with homicide, but the incident was accidentally caught on film, and seeing the film, the jury acquitted due to self-defense (or defense of innocent others). Autopsy showed Hunter was very high on methamphetamine.

The concert originally was scheduled at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, but a conflicting football game caused it to be moved to the Sears Point Raceway. After a dispute with Sears Point's owner, the festival was moved to the Altamont Raceway. Huge difference: the Sears Point location would have had the stage at the *top* of a hill, making it harder to rush the stage. At Altamont, the stage was at the *bottom* of the slope, not only making stage-crashing easier, but meaning that any pushing toward the stage by the crowd would force innocent viewers along with them.

The violent event was seen by critics as contrasting to the "peace and love" attitude of Woodstock, and as signaling the end of the "hippie" culture and of the 1960s culture in general. Such a pivotal point surely influenced McLean heavily in composing his history (TOS), not only of the deaths of the young pioneers (Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. Richardson, a/k/a "The Big Bopper"), but of the entire seminal era of Rock and Roll.

[11] Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Revelation 6: 1 - 8), used here as a general metaphor for tragedy or disaster.

[12] "hexahedral" - "describing a solid figure having six faces, as a cube".
In English: "This was the ultimate example of an unlucky roll of the dice." (the fatal plane crash commemorated by TOS)

NOTE: This parody, and all other parodies of TOS, are "official", "proper", etc., the moment they're posted, regardless of who does or doesn't comment on it -- any comments to the contrary notwithstanding. ;)

© 2010 Tommy Turtle. All rights reserved. E-mail:

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Voting Results

Pacing: 4.4
How Funny: 4.7
Overall Rating: 4.4

Total Votes: 12

Voting Breakdown

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    Pacing How Funny Overall Rating
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 2   1
 3   0
 4   0
 5   10

User Comments

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TJC - October 05, 2010 - Report this comment
Absolutely fantastic, Tommy!  Another smash smoosh rivaling--if not exceeding--Friday's prodigious submissions!   Loved all the clever phrasing and masterful verbal torquing you managed to pull-off, concoct and/or shoehorn in to so completely integrate the proverbial Wreck'd square into the round Pie!  

Bravisimolonian!  Encore!
Patrick - October 05, 2010 - Report this comment
Another masterpiece. Your parody is almost another set of footnotes in itself. I had always heard of the stabbing at Altamont. You have placed it in context. The Hell's Angel was performing his job, to protect the musicians, and the "victim" was threatening innocent parties with a weapon. Remaining footnotes help to clarify this perennially mystifying and mesmerizing song. When Don McLean was asked what "American Pie" meant, he said it meant he didn't have to work again if he didn't want to.
Michael Pacholek - October 05, 2010 - Report this comment
Having done 39 Wrecks and 6 Pies -- there's a double entendre in there somewhere -- I can say that I wouldn't have done this, maybe tried but probably given up, mainly because the songs sound so different. When I tried it with "The Wreck" and "Stairway to Heaven," it was comparatively easy both ways, since the two songs' rhythms were mostly interchangable. But with these two, to make it work is a monumental achievement. I won't even think about doing the reverse: The ship's story to McLean's music.
Ann Hammond - October 05, 2010 - Report this comment
Christie Marie M - October 05, 2010 - Report this comment
Well, well, Don McLean's going Lightfoot today! An American Pie from the seas to the sky! 555's for this Lightfootian Pie of a parody! Great as always, TT!
Old Man Ribber - October 05, 2010 - Report this comment
We are mere children! At least I take immense pride in not reading your footnotes at first...I get about 94.7% of your references. Let's just say I am lost in admiration and leave it at that. Much more of this puffery from me and you'll be a serious risk for diabetes! Amazing work! ;D
Swooshie Kurtz - October 05, 2010 - Report this comment
This may just be the Day of Wreck-oning... Entertaining *and* informative-- what more could one ask? :) 555
Rex - October 05, 2010 - Report this comment
Tommy Turtle is quite a writer / there's not a one who's eruditer!
Tommy Turtle - October 05, 2010 - Report this comment
TJC: Thanks, but, uh, this *was* the encore to Friday's! ;) See TT's second (main) reply to Math Whiz at last Friday's MG = AP,
DK if able to do a worthy encore, but check back tomorrow (Wednesday) -- will at least attempt something that might be worthwhile -- or not. :) Thanks for v/c!

Patrick: LOL @ McLean's comment! I AFAIK, he's never given his true meaning, but being a fan and having researched the discussions enough, I can tell you, if you like, or if you have any questions about particular lines, verses, or references, feel free to ask. Thanks for v/c.
  (In general, it's a recapping of the first era of R'nR, with emphasis on tributing the three pioneers who died in the plane crash of Feb. 3, 1959. I've tributed that incident on its anniversary every year since 2006, except that 06 was late (TT was noob), and missed 2008. No plugs. You know how to find them, if interested.)

Michael Pacholek: Looks like you spoke too soon re: not reversing, judging from comment @ the flip side. :) FWIW, true smooshing involves doing both songs, both ways.
  Thanks for the kind word and votes (for once, you are *not* considered the unabomb suspect, LOL ;), and I'm glad that you still managed to work in your own accomplishments.
'  Speaking of which, why haven't *you* completed the Big Seven? Seriously, with almost 1700 song posts, I'd have expected that a long time ago. Missing "Be Our Guest", unless I'm mistaken. (It was you who told TT about BoRap - thanks for that; DKTOS and DK it was part of B7 until you told me.)
  Also FWIW, 39 EFs is *quite* an achievement -- awesome, really --, but only *one* Supercal and one Major-General? TT's done 12 MG and, by the end of this week, 10 Supercal (and tied you on AmPie @ 6). Time to branch out, Dude! :) :) :)

Ann Hammond: A "new" response! From "he he" to "wow" to those mmms! Proud to have inspired new comments, and very grateful -- thanks for v/c.

Christie Marie M: Thanks, Christie! (nice mini-rhyme "AP - seas to sky!) :-D

Old Man Ribber: I'm tough! I can handle all the puffery you can throw -- try me! :) ... and on a serious note, I wish *everyone* would give TT that type of feedback on which f/notes are and aren't necessary. Just trying to cover all bases for all readers. Thanks for v/c, and props for groks! :-D

Swooshie Kurtz: Thanks for your Frank comment -- guess Dad ignored the advice, "Please, Colonel, Please, don't play B-17"!   (anyone else intrigued by that reply will need to do their *own* research. ;) Glad this one didn't bomb for you, and thanks for v/c. :-D

Rex: Don't I know you from somewhere? ... (kidding - nice ta see ya again! ;) Thanks for v/c and for making an appearance, just when we had given you up as lost! :-D (and LOL @ the couplet. ;)
Michael Pacholek - October 06, 2010 - Report this comment
The reason I've never done "Be Our Guest" is because I hate Disney cartoons, and I won't watch them, and I actually don't know the song. So I ain't never gonna do it. Not even if someone pays me. Go ahead and try.
Andy P - October 06, 2010 - Report this comment
Played the song - didn't like it - won't be doing it - great job, from you, in squeezing an epic into an epic. That would mean something completely different, in UK slang, if I had left out the comma after job (a contraction of jobbie). ;)
Tommy Turtle - October 06, 2010 - Report this comment
Michael Pacholek: Agree completely on all three reasons for not doing BOG. TT did it anyway (just as with BoRap and BBTL, same obstacles) ) to get the Seven done. C'mon, you're tough, you can handle it! ... but as far as paying ya to do it, I'd not hold yer breath... ;)

Andy P: You'll have to explain the UK slang, sorry. No clue here. :) ... FWIW, TT's not particularly fond of TOS either, but there are two *very* good reasons to parody *any* OS:

1) Because you like them.

2) Because you hate them. ;) ... Nothing like skewering a really inane or pretentious OS - e. g., to moi, "MacArthur Park". (No plug. You know where to find it, if desired.)

Not too fond of TWOTEF myself -- nasal noise -- but don't mind parodying it, having heard it anyway. This is the third; have an idea for one more that might get done some day, or not. (Again, you know where they are). Thanks for v/c.
Andy P - October 06, 2010 - Report this comment
jobbie/job = a piece of excrement :)
Mark Scotti - October 10, 2010 - Report this comment
No "wreck" here! This sailed/flew nicely! Well done, and hat's off to you..TT!!
Tommy Turtle - October 10, 2010 - Report this comment
Nark Scotti! Thanks, Mark! ... Hope some day you get a chance to catch the "flip side" (posted on the same day), "Ed Fitz" doen to "Am Pie".
Thanks for reading/v/c!
TT @ DEA Agent Scotti - October 10, 2010 - Report this comment
"Nark" was a flippererd typo. Didn't mean to rat you out, LOL! .... but it *is* funny..... ;)
Glen S - April 06, 2012 - Report this comment
THanks for teaching me what a hexahedral is :c]. Very good work again, TT. Lots of work and time and research. Enjoyed it all, but especially 'But watching that stage, were my fists clenched in rage', and 'No church bell chime; it had been broken: long time'
Tommy Turtle - April 06, 2012 - Report this comment
Glen S: Always glad to be of service! ;-D ... thanks for v/c.
Peregrin - December 08, 2012 - Report this comment
Another classic. My personal fave was last line of the first verse :)
Tommy Turtle - December 09, 2012 - Report this comment
Peregrin, TT knew what DMcL was *really* thinking when he wrote his version of that line. ;-D ... Thanks for the read/comment!
Meriadoc - December 09, 2012 - Report this comment
Wow - I bow down in the face of your greatness! And I haven't even looked at the other half of the smoosh yet... Agree with Pippin on fave line and I also liked how you worked in Satanic Majestic. I read *all* your flippernotes too. As an aside, I always thought that the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost referred to either the three that went down in the plane, or else the folk music duo of Woody and Arlo Guthrie and Dylan as their imitator.
Tommy Turtle - December 14, 2012 - Report this comment
Meriadoc, sorry I missed your comment! (esp. so flattering a one, heh ;)   Re: the Trinity ref, I did take it as a metaphor for McLean's loss of faith, but did the Guthries/Dylan also move from East to West Coast? In another TT AP exegesis, Pachy referred to the music emporium that moved to SFO, which he believes is "the sacred store, where ... the music wouldn't play (any more)".
  Thanks again for taking time to read (all!), and the additional theories on this classic are always interesting to consider.
Meriadoc - December 15, 2012 - Report this comment
The sacred store was supposed to be the Fillmore West, but it doesn't necessarily have to connect up to the next line.
Tommy Turtle - December 16, 2012 - Report this comment
Per Pachy, Fillmore East was the sacred store. WikiP supports the implication:

"Opening on March 8, 1968, the Fillmore East quickly became known as "The Church of Rock and Roll,"

"I went down to the sacred store
"Where I'd heard the music years before
"But the man there said the music wouldn't play"

"Graham closed the Fillmore East. Its final concert took place on June 27, 1971,..."

APie was recorded May 26, 1971, surely after the announcement of the final concert for Fillmore East.

After the "music wouldn't play" line, the song describes ensuing chaos, then the "Three men I admire most". So, again, did Guthries/Dylan move to the west coast? If not, I'm still inclined to go with loss of faith, and doubt DML would refer to the plane crash victims as Father, Son, Holy Ghost. Still open to other possibilities.

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