Recorded and released on the American Pie album in 1971, the single was a number-one U.S. hit for four weeks in 1972. A re-release in 1991 did not chart in the U.S., but reached number 12 in the UK. 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.). The importance of "American Pie" to America's musical and cultural heritage was recognized by the Songs of the Century education project which listed the song as the number five song of the twentieth century. Some Top 40 stations initially played only side two of the single, but the song's popularity eventually forced stations to play the entire piece. "American Pie" is Don McLean's signature song.
A long, long time ago...
I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile.
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And, maybe, theyd be happy for a while.
But february made me shiver
With every paper Id deliver.
Bad news on the doorstep;
I couldnt take one more step.
I cant remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride,
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died.
So bye-bye, miss american pie.
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
And them good old boys were drinkin whiskey and rye
Singin, thisll be the day that I die.