American Pie (song)

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"American Pie"
Single by Don McLean
from the album American Pie
B-side

"Empty Chairs" (promo)

"American Pie part 2" (first release)
ReleasedNovember 1971 (original)
November 1991 (re-release)
Format

Vinyl record (original)

CD, cassette, vinyl (reissue)
RecordedMay 26, 1971
GenreRock, folk rock
Length8:33 (LP)
4:11 (Single Part 1)
4:31 (Single Part 2)
LabelUnited Artists
Writer(s)Don McLean
ProducerEd Freeman for The Rainbow Collection, Ltd.
Don McLean singles chronology
"American Pie"
(1971)
"Vincent"
(1972)
 
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"American Pie"
Single by Don McLean
from the album American Pie
B-side

"Empty Chairs" (promo)

"American Pie part 2" (first release)
ReleasedNovember 1971 (original)
November 1991 (re-release)
Format

Vinyl record (original)

CD, cassette, vinyl (reissue)
RecordedMay 26, 1971
GenreRock, folk rock
Length8:33 (LP)
4:11 (Single Part 1)
4:31 (Single Part 2)
LabelUnited Artists
Writer(s)Don McLean
ProducerEd Freeman for The Rainbow Collection, Ltd.
Don McLean singles chronology
"American Pie"
(1971)
"Vincent"
(1972)

"American Pie" is a song by American folk rock singer-songwriter Don McLean. Recorded and released on the American Pie album in 1971, the single was a number-one U.S. hit for four weeks in 1972. In the UK the single reached No. 2 on its original 1972 release and a reissue in 1991 reached No.12. The song is a recounting of "The Day the Music Died" — the 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper (Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr.)—and the aftermath. The song was listed as the No. 5 song on the RIAA project Songs of the Century. "American Pie" is considered Don McLean's magnum opus and his signature song.

Contents

Background

Don McLean wrote the song in Cold Spring, New York and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[1][2] The song made its debut in Philadelphia, PA at Temple University[3] when he was opening for Laura Nyro on March 14, 1971.[1] The song is well known for its cryptic lyrics that have long been the subject of curiosity and speculation. Although McLean dedicated the American Pie album to Buddy Holly, none of the musicians in the plane crash are identified by name in the song itself. When asked what "American Pie" meant, McLean replied, "It means I never have to work again."[4] Later, he more seriously stated, "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, maintaining a dignified silence."[5]

McLean has generally avoided responding to direct questions about the song lyrics, such as saying, "They’re beyond analysis. They’re poetry."[6] except to acknowledge that he did first learn about Buddy Holly's death while folding newspapers for his paper route on the morning of February 3, 1959, (the line "February made me shiver/with every paper I'd deliver"). He also stated in an editorial published on the 50th anniversary of the crash in 2009 that writing the first verse of the song exorcised his long-running grief over Holly's death.[7]

Charts

Chart (1971)Peak
Position
U.S. Billboard Hot 1001
U.S. Billboard Easy Listening1
Canadian RPM Top Singles1
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks1
Australian Kent Music Report1
New Zealand Singles Chart1
UK Singles Chart2
Norwegian Singles Chart9
Dutch Singles Chart10

Parodies, revisions and uses

In 1999, "Weird Al" Yankovic did a Star Wars–inspired parody of "American Pie". Titled "The Saga Begins", the song recounts the plot of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace from Obi-Wan Kenobi's point of view. While McLean gave permission for the parody, he did not make a cameo appearance in its video, despite popular rumor. McLean stated he was very pleased with the parody. He even admits to almost singing Yankovic's lyrics at live shows, because his children played the song so often.[8][9]

In 2009, in the midst of Youtube's economic crisis, Hank Green wrote a parody about Youtube and Hulu almost buying Youtube.

Former Grateful Dead keyboardist Tom Constanten played an adapted version of "American Pie" when opening for Jefferson Starship on August 9, 2005, the tenth anniversary of Jerry Garcia's death. Constanten altered the lyrics to allude to Jerry's death and how he heard the news by a phone call from Bruce Hornsby.

The City of Grand Rapids, Michigan created a lip dub video to "American Pie" in response to a Newsweek article that stated the city was "dying".[10] The video was hailed by many as a fantastic performance (including Roger Ebert, who said it was "the greatest music video ever made.")[11]

Cover versions

A few cover versions have been made over the years. The first English language cover version was by The Brady Bunch in 1972, but a Spanish translation sung by voice actor Francisco Colmenero surfaced around Mexico in 1971. A very significant[opinion] version, also in Spanish, was recorded in 1984 by the Nicaraguan singer Hernaldo Zúñiga entitled "Siglo XX" (20th Century). (Eduardo Fonseca recorded a cover version of the translation in 2000.) Ska punk band Catch 22 made a ska version which became a staple of their live show, released in several versions. Alternative rock band Killdozer recorded a thrashing, ironic version of the song in 1989.

As heard on Live, Mott the Hoople opened mid-1970s concerts with singer Ian Hunter performing the first verse on solo piano up to the phrase the day the music died. Hunter would then add "or did it?", and the full band would segue into the next number.[12]

British a cappella group King's Singers covered the song for their 1993 album 'Good Vibrations.

Chris de Burgh covered the song in 2008 on the album Footsteps.

Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder has sung the chorus of "American Pie" over the outro music of "Daughter" during select live performances.

It was also Hong Kong pop superstar Leslie Cheung's breakthrough song.

Madonna

"American Pie"
Single by Madonna
from the album The Next Best Thing
ReleasedMarch 3, 2000
FormatCD single
RecordedNovember 1999[citation needed]
GenreDance-pop
Length4:33
LabelMaverick, Warner Bros.
Writer(s)Don McLean
ProducerMadonna, William Orbit
Madonna singles chronology
"Beautiful Stranger"
(1999)
"American Pie"
(2000)
"Music"
(2000)
Audio sample
file info · help

Background

American pop star Madonna released a cover version of the song in March 2000 to promote the soundtrack to her film The Next Best Thing (2000). Her cover is much shorter than the original (it contains only the beginning of the first verse and all of the second and sixth verses) and was recorded as a pop-dance song. It was co-produced by Madonna and William Orbit, after Rupert Everett (Madonna's co-star in The Next Best Thing) had convinced her to cover the song for the film's soundtrack. Due to the success of the single, it was included as a bonus track on her 2000 studio album Music, making the song the first single of the new album; however it was not available on the North American version. Madonna explained in a 2001 interview on BBC Radio 1 with Jo Whiley, the reason that the song was omitted from her 2001 greatest hits compilation GHV2: "It was something a certain record company executive twisted my arm into doing, but it didn't belong on the (Music) album so now it's being punished".

Reception

Released in March 2000, the song was a big worldwide hit, reaching No. 1 in many countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Italy, Germany (her first since "La Isla Bonita", in 1987), Switzerland, Austria, and Finland. The song was the 19th best selling of 2000 in the UK. The single was not released commercially in the United States, but it reached No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 due to strong radio airplay. NME gave it a negative review, saying that it was a "sub-karaoke fluff" and that "it's a blessing she didn't bother recording the whole thing."[13] Chuck Taylor from Billboard on the other hand, was impressed by the recording and commented, "Applause to Madonna for not pandering to today's temporary trends and for challenging programmers to broaden their playlists. [...] In all, a fine preview of the forthcoming soundtrack to The Next Best Thing."[14] Don McLean himself praised the cover, saying it was "a gift from a goddess", and that her version is "mystical and sensual."[15] According to The Official Charts Company, the song has sold 385,000 copies there and is her 16th best selling single to date in the UK.[16]

Music video

Madonna in the music video for "American Pie"

The music video, filmed in London[17] and directed by Philipp Stölzl, depicts a diverse array of ordinary Americans, including scenes showing a lesbian and a gay couple kissing. Throughout the music video Madonna, who is wearing a tiara on her head, dances and sings in front of a big American flag. Two official versions of the video were produced, the first of which now appears on Madonna's greatest-hits DVD compilation, Celebration, and was released as the official video worldwide. The second version was issued along with the "Humpty Remix", a more upbeat and dance-friendly version of the song. This video was aired on MTV's dance channel in the United States to promote the film The Next Best Thing, starring Madonna and Rupert Everett; it contains totally different footage and new outtakes of the original and omits the lesbian kiss. Everett, who provides backing vocals in the song, is also featured in the video.

Track listings and formats

UK CD single 1 (9362 44839 2)[18]
AU CD single 1 (9362-44839-2)[19]
  1. "American Pie" (Album Version) – 4:33
  2. "American Pie" (Victor Calderone Filter Dub Mix) – 6:06
  3. "American Pie" (Victor Calderone Vocal Dub Mix) – 6:17
UK CD single 2 (9362 44840-2)[20]
AU CD single 2 (9362-44840-2)[21]
  1. "American Pie" (Album Version) – 4:34
  2. "American Pie" (Richard "Humpty" Vission Radio Mix) – 4:29
  3. "American Pie" (Richard "Humpty" Vission Visits Madonna) – 5:44
UK CD single 3 (W519CD3)[22]
  1. "American Pie" (Victor Calderone Vocal Club Mix) – 9:07
  2. "American Pie" (Victor Calderone Extended Vocal Club Mix) – 10:35
  3. "American Pie" (Richard "Humpty" Vission Visits Madonna) – 5:43
  4. "American Pie" (Richard "Humpty" Vission Radio Mix) – 4:27
  5. "American Pie" (Album Version) – 4:33
EU 12" vinyl (9362 44865 0)[23]
US 12" promo vinyl (PRO-A-100115)[24]
  • A1 "American Pie" (Victor Calderone Vocal Club Mix) – 9:07
  • B1 "American Pie" (Victor Calderone Extended Vocal Club Mix) – 10:35
GR CD single (9362 44837 2)[25]
  1. "American Pie" (Album Version) – 4:33
  2. "American Pie" (Richard "Humpty" Vission Radio Mix) – 4:27
  3. "American Pie" (Victor Calderone Filter Dub Mix) – 6:06
  4. "American Pie" (Richard "Humpty" Vission Visits Madonna) – 5:43

Charts and certifications

Charts

Chart (1999/2000)Peak
position
Australian ARIA Singles Chart[26]1
Austrian Singles Chart[26]3
Belgian Singles Charts[26]6
Canadian Singles Chart[27]1
Dutch Top 40[28]4
European Hot 100 Singles[29]1
Finnish Singles Charts[26]1
French Singles Chart[26]8
German Singles Chart[26]1
Italian Singles Chart[26]1
New Zealand Singles Chart[26]4
Norwegian Singles Chart[26]1
Spanish Singles Chart[30]1
Swedish Singles Chart[26]1
Swiss Singles Chart[26]1
UK Singles Chart[31]1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[32]29
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play[32]1
U.S. Billboard Pop Songs[32]16
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks[32]21

Year-end charts

Chart (2000)Position
Australia ARIA Singles Chart[33]66
Austrian Singles Chart[34]32
Belgian Singles Chart (Flanders)[35]46
Belgian Singles Chart (Wallonia)[36]44
French SNEP Singles Chart[37]44
German Singles Chart[38]21
Italian Singles Chart[39]9
Netherlands (Mega Single Top 100)[40]46
Swedish Singles Chart[41]9
Swiss Singles Chart[42]11
UK Singles Chart[43]19

Certifications

CountryCertifications
AustraliaGold[44]
AustriaGold[45]
FranceSilver[46]
SwedenPlatinum[47]
SwitzerlandPlatinum[48]
United KingdomGold[49]

References

  1. ^ a b "Memory Bank's a Little Off, But Sentiment Still Holds". http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/20120812_Memory_banks_a_little_off__but_the_sentiment_holds.html. Retrieved August 14, 2012. 
  2. ^ Tin & Lint, a bar on Caroline Street in Saratoga Springs, New York claims the song was written there, and a plaque marks the table.
  3. ^ http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local//the-feed-feature/30460-don-mclean-american-pie-was-written-in-philly-and-first-performed-at-temple
  4. ^ Howard, Dr. Alan. "The Don McLean Story: 1970–1976". Don-McLean.com. Archived from the original on July 11, 2007. http://www.don-mclean.com/articles/play.asp?p=15. Retrieved June 3, 2007. 
  5. ^ "What is Don McLean's song "American Pie" all about?". The Straight Dope. May 14, 1993. Archived from the original on May 28, 2007. http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a3_398b.html. Retrieved June 3, 2007. 
  6. ^ "American Pie". Don McLean.com.
  7. ^ McLean, Don (February 1, 2009). "Commentary: Buddy Holly, rock music genius". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/02/01/mclean.buddy.holly/. Retrieved November 28, 2011. 
  8. ^ ""Ask Al" Q&As for September, 1999". Archived from the original on September 2, 2006. http://web.archive.org/web/20060902121655/http://www.weirdal.com/aaarchive.htm#0999. Retrieved October 29, 2006. 
  9. ^ "Jedi Council – Interviews Weird Al Yankovic". TheForce.Net. September 14, 1980. http://www.theforce.net/jedicouncil/interview/weirdal.asp. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  10. ^ The Grand Rapids Lip Dub http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2011/06/01/136816940/the-grand-rapids-lip-dub-a-giant-street-party-set-to-music
  11. ^ The greatest music video ever made http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/music/the-greatest-music-video-ever.html
  12. ^ Perkins, Adrian. "Mott The Hoople track finder". Mott The Hoople and Ian Hunter. Adrian Perkins. Archived from the original on December 13, 2007. http://www.hunter-mott.com/discography/index_tracks_mth.html. Retrieved December 20, 2007. "This 1974 set opener would segue neatly into The Golden Age of Rock n Roll" 
  13. ^ American Pie – Track Reviews.
  14. ^ Taylor, Chuck (February 12, 2000). "Spotlight: Madonna "American Pie"". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc). ISSN 0006-2510. http://books.google.com/books?id=4Q0EAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA22&dq=Madonna+Spotlight&cd=10#v=onepage&q=Madonna%20Spotlight&f=false. Retrieved April 28, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Madonna : Don McLean Praises Madonna's 'American Pie' – Rhapsody Music Downloads". VH1. http://www.vh1.com/artists/news/621291/20000216/madonna.jhtml. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Madonna: The Official Top 40". MTV. MTV Networks. http://www.mtv.co.uk/music/charts/official-uk-countdowns/madonna-official-top-40. Retrieved December 20, 2010. 
  17. ^ Ciccone, Christopher (2008) Life with my Sister Madonna, Simon & Schuster: New York, p.278.
  18. ^ "Madonna – American Pie". Discogs.com. http://www.discogs.com/Madonna-American-Pie/release/527049. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Madonna – American Pie". Discogs.com. http://www.discogs.com/Madonna-American-Pie/release/1798610. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  20. ^ "Madonna – American Pie". Discogs.com. http://www.discogs.com/Madonna-American-Pie/release/710009. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  21. ^ "Madonna – American Pie". Discogs.com. http://www.discogs.com/Madonna-American-Pie/release/713240. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  22. ^ "Madonna – American Pie". Discogs.com. http://www.discogs.com/Madonna-American-Pie/release/299114. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  23. ^ "Madonna – American Pie". Discogs.com. http://www.discogs.com/Madonna-American-Pie/release/63083. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  24. ^ "Madonna – American Pie". Discogs.com. http://www.discogs.com/Madonna-American-Pie/release/534784. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  25. ^ "Madonna – American Pie". Discogs.com. http://www.discogs.com/Madonna-American-Pie/release/35528. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Steffen Hung. "lescharts.com". lescharts.com. http://lescharts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=Madonna&titel=American+Pie&cat=s. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  27. ^ "Allmusic". Allmusic. August 16, 1958. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/p64565/charts-awards/billboard-singles. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  28. ^ "Top40.nl". Top40.nl. http://top40.nl/index.aspx?week=13&jaar=2000. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  29. ^ Craig David Storms U.K. Singles Chart | Billboard.com
  30. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 978-84-8048-639-2. 
  31. ^ "chartstats.com". chartstats.com. June 24, 2000. http://www.chartstats.com/songinfo.php?id=28035. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  32. ^ a b c d Billboard chart peaks Billboard.com. Retrieved June 22, 2009.
  33. ^ "ARIA Charts – End Of Year Charts – Top 100 Singles 2000". http://www.aria.com.au/pages/aria-charts-end-of-year-charts-top-100-singles-2000.htm. Retrieved December 29, 2011. 
  34. ^ http://austriancharts.at/year.asp?id=2000&cat=s
  35. ^ "JAAROVERZICHTEN 2000" (in Dutch). http://www.ultratop.be/nl/annual.asp?year=2000. Retrieved December 29, 2011. 
  36. ^ "RAPPORTS ANNUELS 2000" (in French). http://www.ultratop.be/fr/annual.asp?year=2000. Retrieved December 29, 2011. 
  37. ^ "Classement Singles – année 2000" (in French). http://www.disqueenfrance.com/fr/page-259376.xml?year=2000. Retrieved December 29, 2011. 
  38. ^ "German Top 20 – The Chart Of 2000". http://ki.informatik.uni-wuerzburg.de/~topsi/deu2000/deu_2000t.html. Retrieved December 29, 2011. 
  39. ^ "I singoli più venduti del 2000" (in Italian). http://www.hitparadeitalia.it/hp_yends/hpe2000.htm. Retrieved December 29, 2011. 
  40. ^ "JAAROVERZICHTEN – SINGLE 2000" (in Dutch). http://dutchcharts.nl/jaaroverzichten.asp?year=2000&cat=s. Retrieved January 24, 2012. 
  41. ^ "Årslista Singlar – År 2000" (in Swedish). http://www.hitlistan.se/netdata/ghl002.mbr/lista?liid=43&dfom=20000001&newi=0&height=420&platform=Win32&browser=MSIE&navi=no&subframe=Mainframe. Retrieved December 29, 2011. 
  42. ^ "SWISS YEAR-END CHARTS 2000" (in German). http://swisscharts.com/year.asp?key=2000. Retrieved December 29, 2011. 
  43. ^ http://www.bpi.co.uk/assets/files/yearly%20best%20selling%20singles.pdf
  44. ^ ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2000 Singles
  45. ^ "IFPI Austria – Verband der Österreichischen Musikwirtschaft" (in (German)). Ifpi.at. http://www.ifpi.at/?section=goldplatin. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  46. ^ Disque en France
  47. ^ ÅR 2000
  48. ^ Steffen Hung. "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community". Swisscharts.com. http://swisscharts.com/awards.asp?year=2000. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  49. ^ http://www.bpi.co.uk/certifiedawards/search.aspx

Further reading

External links

Official

Unofficial

Transcriptions

Preceded by
"Brand New Key" by Melanie
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (Don McLean version)
January 15, 1972 (four weeks)
Succeeded by
"Let's Stay Together" by Al Green
Preceded by
"Cherish" by David Cassidy
Billboard Easy Listening Singles number-one single (Don McLean version)
January 15, 1972 (three weeks)
Succeeded by
"Hurting Each Other" by The Carpenters
Preceded by
"Brand New Key" by Melanie
Australian Kent Music Report number-one single (Don McLean version)
March 6, 1972 (five weeks)
Succeeded by
"Without You" by Nilsson
Preceded by
"Pure Shores" by All Saints
UK Singles Chart number-one single (Madonna version)
March 5, 2000 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Don't Give Up" by Chicane featuring Bryan Adams
Preceded by
"My Heart Goes Boom (La Di Da Da)" by French Affairclea
German Singles Chart number-one single (Madonna version)
March 10, 2000 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Maria Maria" by Santana featuring The Product G&B
Preceded by
"Freestyler" by Bomfunk MC's
Swedish Singles Chart number-one single (Madonna version)
March 23, 2000 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Never Be the Same Again" by Melanie C featuring Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes
Preceded by
"The Chase" by Giorgio Moroder vs. Jam & Spoon
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single (Madonna version)
April 1, 2000 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Think It Over" by Jennifer Holliday