It was 42 years ago today (January 15th, 1972) that Don McLean's "American Pie" topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart during the first week of it's four week run. The song is the origin of the term "the day the music died," about the February 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, but that's only a small part of what it's about.
McLean was a huge Holly fan growing up, and he was deeply moved by Holly's death, but says that it's merely the starting off point of what "American Pie" is about: "The fact that Buddy Holly seems to be the primary thing that people talk about when they talk about 'American Pie' is, is kind of sad. It's only the beginning is about Buddy Holly, and the rest of it goes on and talks about America and politics and the country, and trying to catch some kind of a special feeling that I had about my country, especially in 1970 and '71, when it was very turbulent."
McLean's followup single "Vincent" was a tribute to another of his favorite artists, painter Vincent Van Gogh. "Vincent" and its B-side "Castles In The Air" peaked at Number 12 in 1972.
Last March, a career-spanning documentary on McClean, called American Troubadour, premiered on PBS.
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