The Day the Music Died: The Story of Don McLean’s American Pie (2022)
Director: Mark Moormann
Starring: Don McLean, Peter Gallagher, ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, Jiles Perry “J.P.” Richardson Jr. aka The Big Bopper, Garth Brooks, Brian Wilson and Tyson Fury
The Overview: Beware of spoilers…
In December 1971, Don McLean’s American Pie single was released. It went to #1 and held that position for four weeks. At the time it was the longest song (8 minutes and 42 seconds) to enter the Billboard charts. At the time a single of that length was unheard of. American Pie was a worldwide hit topping the charts in the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. Fifty years later and people of all ages know the words to the song, but speculation runs rampant about their meaning.
Don McLean wrote the song as a musical poem open to interpretation. While McLean admitted that “the day the music died” referred to the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, speculation was that the song also referenced the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, political protests and more. McLean would never confirm or deny the meaning of his lyrics. He was quoted as saying, “You will find many interpretations of my lyrics but none of them by me … Sorry to leave you all on your own like this but long ago I realized that songwriters should make their statements and move on.”
The Day the Music Died: The Story of Don McLean’s American Pie looks at the genesis of the song, it’s impact on the world and Don McLean shares the meaning of the lyrics. I was in 7th grade when American Pie was released. Everyone, including adults, were talking about the song and it’s meaning.
I enjoyed this documentary. It was cool to see the struggle McLean had in getting the lyrics just right. Then to learn (and see) that the producer and musicians knew that they had something special, but the recording session wasn’t working until.. (I won’t give it away), While I’m glad that Don McLean has confirmed the things that inspired his lyrics, I’m taking the perspective that like all poetry, once it’s released, it is up to each individual to determine what the poem means to him/her.
The Day the Music Died: The Story of Don McLean’s American Pie earns 4 of 5 stars.