It was on this date in 1972 when Don McLean’s LP “American Pie” topped the Billboard album chart — and the title track to that record was an unusual hit.
Clocking in at more than 8 minutes, “American Pie” was itself the longest song to ever hit No. 1 on the pop chart, and there was much speculation over the meaning of the lyrics. For decades, McLean declined to explain the symbolism behind many of the characters and events mentioned in the song.
The overall theme was the loss of innocence in the early years of the rock and roll generation, after the 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Ritchie Valens – referred to in the song as “the day the music died.”
Grow the Future of Public Media
MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!