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Don McLean's 'American Pie,' explained

(Photo by )
(Photo by )

Don McLean’s “American Pie” broke the songwriting rules.

At nearly nine minutes long, it was the lengthiest song to have ever entered the Billboard Hot 100 when it was released in late 1971.

In the last 50 years, the exact meaning of the lyrics has remained open to interpretation. Until now.

A new documentary streaming on Paramount Plus takes viewers beyond the phrase “the day the music died” and its association with a plane crash in 1959 that killed Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens.

Like the original song, the film covers a lot. From family tragedy to social change, to bust-ups in the recording studio and the song’s impact today.

Don McLean opens up about this latest project, the art of songwriting, and why the three men he admires most are “the father, son, and the holy ghost.”

Since this interview aired it has been brought to our attention that Don McLean pleaded guilty to domestic violence charges in 2016. We did not come across this information during our research into the song and documentary. We regret the error, as that information would have impacted the decisions made about the interview and segment.

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Rupert Allman