With every aspect of our lives we are making a point, arguing a belief, or refuting some other aspect of our existence. Aesthetic pieces, most avidly poems and songs, argue a message both in the lyrics and in the meaning posed between the lines. “American Pie,” in a multitude of ways, argues that American lives and memories are closely intertwined with the music of the time period. Not only does “American Pie” argue a message it also pulls many generations together. Today, thirty years after the initial release, “American Pie” still has an effect in our music and continues to be popular with all age groups. Don McLean accomplishes this task through using the context of the time period, placement of words, the words themselves, the punctuation and grammar, the rhythms, and many other facets involved. Because of this, the people of a nation and even the world are influenced.
One major concept needed in order to understand any song thoroughly is to comprehend the period in which it was recorded and released. Don McLean released the song, “American Pie,” in 1971. During the late 1960s and the early 1970s, the United States was becoming progressively commercialized. With the commercialization, Americans began losing touch of the “little things in life,” and the things that make life worth living; instead they were more interested in the materialistic things. Throughout the time period there were many clashes around the world—most famous being the conflict in Vietnam. With the amount of turmoil that was present during the late 1960s and early 1970s, McLean writes about the 1950s (a period of calmness between two storms—the World Wars and Vietnam) as an escape for the people of his time. Several classics in other parts of the entertainment industry also arose in 1971. They include A Clockwork Orange, Fiddler on the Roof, The Owl and the Pussycat, and Shaft, to name a few (www.super70s.com). Essentially, the late 1960s and early 1970s are an in between stage for America, where people were exploring the many options in their lives. The release of “American Pie” in 1971 was a landmark in pop music history because the song was eight minutes and thirty-two seconds long. Later, it was divided up into two parts and then turned into the version that is known today (www.don-mclean.com). Now that the time period that surrounded the release of “American Pie” is established it is easier to understand the song because it can be read more in context.
The music of “American Pie” harkens back to a time of rock-n-roll, pianos, and acoustic guitars. A time when the music was upbeat and peppy, causing you to want to jump up and dance. However, the music during the time of its creation lacks the calming effect that is acquainted with the music of previous eras. “American Pie” embodies many qualities of the music during the 1950s, including the simplicity of the chord structures overall, the clear vocals, and well-known and used instruments. With the...