We may finally find out what Don McLean’s American Pie actually means, as the legendary singer is putting the original manuscript and notes from when he penned the 1971 hit up for auction in New York today
The 16 page manuscript is estimated to go for up to $1.5 million and includes typed drafts of the song and original workings, according to Christie’s auction house, which will finally unlocking the secret behind the rock anthem. For over 40 years fans and music experts have poured over the lyrics to the eight-minute track known as the “rock and roll American dream” and have tried to decipher the meaning behind McLean’s words.
While “The day the music died,” is believed to refer to the deaths of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper in a plane crash in February 1959, the rest of the track has remained an enigma.
McLean himself famously is said to have replied, when asked about the meaning behind the six versed track: “It means I don’t ever have to work again if I don’t want to.”
Later he added: “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 realised that songwriters should make their statements and move on, maintaining a dignified silence.”
References to Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and the Beatles have long been pointed to, but so far McLean has refused to directly confirm what American Pie really refers to.
Last month Don confirmed the sale of the manuscript would finally end the mystery, telling Reuters: “The writing and the lyrics will divulge everything there is to divulge,”
Francis Wahlgren of auction house Christie’s said: “The fact that the drafts, the working process of it, are all being offered as this lot makes it a remarkable insight into the mind of Don McLean and into this incredible song that has touched so many people.
“There is something about this song that captures the era of that period and there is a kind of innocence to it, a loss of innocence in America.”
Explaining why he’d waited until now to release the manuscript, Don wrote on Twitter on February: “For more than 40 years I have rambled around every state of the union and many, many countries of the world. My primary interests in life have been America, singing, songwriting, and the English language. I love the English language as much as anything in life and words really do mean something.
“I thought it would be interesting as I reach age 70 to release this work product on the song American Pie so that anyone who might be interested will learn that this song was not a parlor game. It was an indescribable photograph of America that I tried to capture in words and music and then was fortunate enough through the help of others to make a successful recording. I would say to young songwriters who are starting out to immerse yourself in beautiful music and beautiful lyrics and think about every word you say in a song.”
Don first debuted the song in Philadelphia at Saint Joseph’s University when opening for Laura Nyro in Mach 14, 1971. the unique piece of American musical history is expected to get upwards of $1 million when it comes up for auction, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it fetched over $1.5 million. Last year the original handwritten manuscript for Bob Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone fetched $2 million at auction.