Wednesday, February 3, 2010

February 3, 1959

(briefly going off my usual topics)

The day the music died.

On this day in 1959, a plane crash claimed the lives of singers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, JP "The Big Bopper" Richardson, and pilot Roger Peterson).

Don McLean, in one of the greatest songs ever written, summarized the tragedy, and in a truly remarkable collection of words told the story of American music from the 1950's to 1969.


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 deliver.
Bad news on the doorstep;
I couldn't take one more step.

I can't remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride,
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died.

So bye-bye, Miss American Pie.
Drove my Chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
And good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing, "this'll be the day that I die.
"This'll be the day that I die."

Did you write the Book of Love?
And do you have faith in God above,
If the Bible tells you so?
And do you believe in rock and roll,
Can music save your mortal soul,
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?

Well, I know that you're in love with him
`Cause I saw you dancin' in the gym.
You both kicked off your shoes.
Man, I dig those rhythm and blues.

I was a lonely teenage broncin' buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck,
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the music died.

I started singin',
Bye-bye, Miss American Pie.
Drove my Chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
And good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
Singin', "this'll be the day that I die.
This'll be the day that I die"

Now for ten years we've been on our own
And moss grows fat on a rolling stone,
But that's not how it used to be.
When the Jester sang for the King and Queen,
In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
In a voice that came from you and me,

Oh, and while the King was looking down,
The Jester stole his thorny crown.
The courtroom was adjourned;
No verdict was returned.
And while Lennon read a book on Marx,
The Quartet practiced in the park,
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died.

We were singing,
Bye-bye, Miss American Pie.
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
And good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
Singin', "this'll be the day that I die.
This'll be the day that I die."

Helter Skelter in a summer swelter.
The Byrds flew off with a fallout shelter,
Eight miles high and falling fast.
It landed foul on the grass.
The players tried for a forward pass,
With the Jester on the sidelines in a cast.

Now the half-time air was sweet perfume
While the 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?

We started singing,
"bye-bye, Miss American Pie."
Drove my Chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
And good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
Singin', "this'll be the day that I die.
"This'll be the day that I die."

Oh, and there we were all in one place,
A generation lost in space
With no time left to start again.
So come on: jack be nimble, jack be quick!
Jack Flash sat on a candlestick
'Cause fire is the devil's only friend.

Oh, and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage.
No angel born in hell
Could break that Satan's spell.

And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite,
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The day the music died

He was singing,
"Bye-bye, Miss American Pie."
Drove my Chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
And good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
Singin', "this'll be the day that I die.
"This'll be the day that I die."

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news,
But she just smiled and turned away.
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.

And in the streets the children screamed,
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed.
But not a word was spoken;
The church bells all were broken.
And the three men I admire most:
The father, son, and the holy ghost,
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died.

And they were singing,
"Bye-bye, Miss American pie."
Drove my Chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
And good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
Singin', "this'll be the day that I die.
"this'll be the day that I die."

They were singing,
"bye-bye, Miss American Pie."
Drove my Chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
And good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
Singin', "this'll be the day that I die."

17 comments:

The Good Cook said...

The greatest song ever written. Here! Here! This is the music of my generation (and yes, I sang along as I read - but didn't need to read - the lyrics. I still know every word)

I sent my husband this link to remind him about the significance of this day...

Anonymous said...

This song gets my vote for the best ever written.

Old MD Girl said...

According to my Dad, Don McClean was "The Backstreet Boys" of his particular era of music, and was regarded as such in "real" folk music circles. It's just they manufactured folk, not pop in those days.... Judging by the popularity of this song, it appears the music industry new what its audience liked!

Julie said...

i heard this on the radio today ... certainly is one of the best songs ever written

LYNXBABY said...

I feel guilty, but I actually had to look up the lyrics to see what they all referred to. I grew up with the song, but never really got it. Until later. (graduated HS in '92)

The Mother said...

Love that song.

And you've made one of my points on today's post. Docs aren't all culturally illiterate.

In fact, I don't know any who are.

Clark Kent's Lunchbox said...

we all used to sing this at the top of our lungs in some dive bar in downtown Seoul Korea. It reminded us of home. Sad day indeed.

The Imaket Man said...

As I kid, I was always bothered by the line "drinkin' whiskey and rye," since rye IS whiskey. But eventually I grew up and got over it. At least I thought I did, until you brought back the memory. Thanks a lot, Dr. G.

Mari-Ann said...

It IS a great song but it's almost as bad as an Abba song as far as stuck-in-the-headability. I'll be humming at my desk all afternoon which isn't all bad.

Capture word is crompin which is the dance I will do while I hum.

miss elizabeth said...

A long, long time ago
In a galaxy far away
Naboo was under an attack
And I thought me and Qui-Gon Jinn
Could talk the federation in
To maybe cutting them a little slack
But their response, it didn't thrill us
They locked the doors and tried to kill us
We escaped from that gas
Then met Jar Jar and Boss Nass
We took a bongo from the scene
And we went to Theed to see the Queen
We all wound up on Tatooine
That's where we found this boy

Oh
My my this here Anakin guy
Maybe Vader someday later
Now he's just a small fry
He left his home
And kissed his mommy goodbye
Sayin'
"Soon I'm gonna be a Jedi"
"Soon I'm gonna be a Jedi"

Did you know this junkyard slave
Isn't even old enough to shave
But he can use the Force, they say

Ahh, do you see him hitting on the queen
Though he's just nine and she's fourteen
Yeah, he's probably gonna marry her someday

Well, I know he built C-3PO
And I've heard how fast his pod can go
And we were broke, it's true
So we made a wager or two
He was a prepubescent flyin' ace
And the minute Jabba started off that race
Well, I knew who would win first place
Oh yes, it was our boy

We started singin'
My my this here Anakin guy
Maybe Vader someday later
Now he's just a small fry
And he left his home
And kissed his mommy goodbye
Sayin'
"Soon I'm gonna be a Jedi"
"Soon I'm gonna be a Jedi"

Now we finally got to Coruscant
The Jedi Council we knew would want
To see how good the boy could be
So we took him there and we told the tale
How his midi-chlorians were off the scale
And he might fulfill that prophecy
Oh the Council was impressed of course
Could he bring balance to the Force?
They interviewed the kid
Oh, training they forbid
Because Yoda sensed in him much fear
And Qui-Gon said "Now listen here"
"Just stick it in your pointy ear"
"I still will teach this boy"

He was singin'
My my this here Anakin guy
Maybe Vader someday later
Now he's just a small fry
And he left his home
And kissed his mommy goodbye
Sayin'
"Soon I'm gonna be a Jedi"
"Soon I'm gonna be a Jedi"

We caught a ride back to Naboo
'Cause Queen Amidala wanted to
I frankly would've liked to stay
We all fought in that epic war
And it wasn't long at all before
Little hotshot flew his plane and saved the day
And in the end some Gungans died
Some ships blew up and some pilots fried
A lot of folks were croakin'
The battle droids were broken
And the Jedi I admire most
Met up with Darth Maul and now he's toast
Well, I'm still here and he's a ghost
I guess I'll train this boy

And I was singin'
My my this here Anakin guy
Maybe Vader someday later
Now he's just a small fry
And he left his home
And kissed his mommy goodbye
Sayin'
"Soon I'm gonna be a Jedi"
"Soon I'm gonna be a Jedi"

We were singin'
My my this here Anakin guy
Maybe Vader someday later
Now he's just a small fry
And he left his home
And kissed his mommy goodbye
Sayin' "Soon I'm gonna be a Jedi"

KateA said...

I guess this is weird synchronicity, but today, Feb 3rd is my birthday, which I shared with my father. He died in a small private plane crash in 1992. I guess I never realized that our birthday landed on the day that the music died.

hannah said...

Off topic, but you should read the autopsy report on the crash victims. It's very...gory. But interesting. If you like gory stuff, that is.

RSDS said...

I had to dig out my 45 of the song and play it, while following along with your lyrics.

RSDS

ERP said...

I like the tune but it is a bit overplayed on the classic rock stations I hate to say.
However, fondly I remember being in Europe in the early 90's right after college. My friend and I sang all the words to it when it was randomly played at a bar in Belgium. Everyone loved it and was amazed that we knew the words! It helped us both to hook up that night!!!!

Kim Kasch said...

I remember...

River said...

Ooooh, I hate that song. Always have, always will.

Anonymous said...

Count me in with the "Know every single words to the lyrics" crew. Dr. Grumpy, you must be about the same age as me and my DH. This was OUR song, dammit, and you young whippersnappers can't imagine hearing on FM radio when it was in the Top 40!

Pattie, RN


ps..capture is BAR tiff!! :-)

 
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