Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Top four BEST experiences in school: # 2 My American Pie Paper


This was the coolest paper I wrote ever in college. I took the song American Pie, dissected it, analyzed it, and wrote down line by line what I thought it meant.


I got a perfect score from my then history teacher, may he rest in piece. He was not an easy man to please, either.


I'd copy and paste the paper here, but it was years ago, on an old computer. So, I guess I'll just start over.


Crap, just took a break to see if I could find it. I did find a few of my college papers and my first short story I ever wrote, but no America Pie paper, so here it goes, I'm winging it.


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.


These first few lines refer to the 50's and how rock and roll moved the youth of that decade and inspired them to become musicians.


But February made me shiver
With every paper I'd deliver.
Bad news on the doorstep;
I couldn't take one more step.


The plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper, three of the most beloved rock musicians of the 50's.


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 them 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."


This marks the end of American standards at the time. Baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet were ideals that were vanishing.


Did you write the book of love,
And do you have faith in God above,
If the Bible tells you so?


This pertains to the ideals of the 50's. People seemed more naive back then. They believed what they were told, for example, that communism was a huge threat to democracy. They ignored the problems at hand such as gender, classism, and racism. They believed life was ideal, that there was enough wealth and jobs to go around.



Do you believe in rock 'n 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.


The lines above mark the transition from the love songs of the 50's to the rock and roll of the 60's. Rock and roll became the new God of the youth, a deity for them to follow. They were dancing fast and apart, rather than slow and close as in the 50's. A new dance, new music, a new era. If you were not willing to change, you were left behind.


I started singin',
"bye-bye, Miss American Pie."
Drove my Chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
And 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



McLean is stating that the sixties generation did not go along to get along. They asserted themselves through the women's movement, the sexual revolution, and civil rights.


And moss grows fat on a rollin' stone,


The above line alludes to the drowning death of Rolling Stone Brian Jones.



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
And a voice that came from you and me,


In the lines above, I believe Bob Dylan to be the Jester. On his first trip to England, he played in a place called the King and Queen Pub. It was said that he was obsessed with rock and roll and James Dean, which was apparent in the way he dressed. His songs combined poetic detail and social activism.


Oh, and while the king was looking down,
The jester stole his thorny crown.


This refers to Bob Dylan replacing Elvis Presley as the voice of the new generation and the leader of the youth.



The courtroom was adjourned;
No verdict was returned.


Representative of the Warren Report after the JFK assassination. It was highly criticized for being inaccurate because of conflicting accounts of the shooting.



And while Lennon read a book of Marx,
The quartet practiced in the park,
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died.


These lines are about John Lennon becoming politically active and the Beatles (the quartet). The dirges being sung are for JFK, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr, all killed during the 60's.


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


Helter skelter in a summer swelter.


A reference to the Manson family killings.



The birds flew off with a fallout shelter,
Eight miles high and falling fast.


This line represents the emergence of The Byrds, and their song Eight Miles High.



It landed foul on the grass.
The players tried for a forward pass,


The shift from the cold war to Vietnam.



With the jester on the sidelines in a cast.


This line refers to Bob Dylan's motorcycle accident.


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?


Half time was the summer of love in 1967. The Beatles release Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band that year. Everyone wanted to find peace and love, but could not because of the impending gloom of the Vietnam War. The players are the North Vietnamese, the marching band, the United States army. This line refers to the Tet Offensive. The item revealed was the Pentagon Papers.


We started singing,
"bye-bye, Miss American Pie."
Drove my Chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
And 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,


Woodstock



A generation lost in space


Apollo 11 moon landing.



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


The above sections refer to the concert held by the Rolling Stones at Altamont Speedway, in which they hired the Hell's Angels to do security. They ended up killing an eighteen year old man that night, by stabbing and beating him. This allegedly happened during the song Sympathy for the Devil.


He was singing,
"bye-bye, Miss American Pie."
Drove my Chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
And 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.


The girl is Janis Joplin. The fact that she has no happy news is a prelude to her upcoming death the next year, 1970. She is bringing the 60's to a close. Also, the music won't play anymore because a new era is beginning. Disco is ready to emerge.


And in the streets: the children screamed,
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed.


The above are symbols of a reawakening.



But not a word was spoken;
The church bells all were broken.


The end of a chaotic decade of demonstrations, riots, and protests was coming to a close.



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 we're back to the beginning with the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper.


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


So, that was my paper. I actually found the original, so I didn't really have to wing it like I said. The instructor wanted to use it in a class the next semester, Culture Shock: The 60's and 70's. I don't know if he ever did.


Thanks for reading.


Kisses :*

Megan
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John Messina, Personal Injury Attorney

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