About the Songwriter




The Long Goodbye

A primary key to understanding American Pie can be found here in the chorus, as the theme of America's lost innocence is most clearly stated.

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So bye bye, Miss American Pie

"Miss American Pie"* is "as American as apple pie," so the saying goes; she could also be a synthesis of this symbol and the beauty queen Miss America. Either way, her name evokes a simpler time in American life when these icons held more meaning. She is the America of a passing era, and he is bidding her farewell.

Drove my Chevy to the levee
But the levee was dry

"Drove my Chevy to the levee" alludes to a drive "along a levee" mentioned in a series of popular 1950s Chevrolet television commercials sung by Dinah Shore:

Drive your Chevrolet through the USA,
America's the greatest land of all
On a highway or a road along a levee...
..life is completer in a Chevy
So make a date today to see the USA
And see it in your Chevrolet

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and which serves as a signpost to that era—just as the Chevrolet itself is a familiar icon of 1950s America. Also, given that a drive to a levee carries the suggestion of romance in a car, we can almost see him on a date here. But the date is over, the levee is dry—someone he once loved has betrayed him; something that once gave him sustenance has evaporated.

And just for the record:

Levee \Lev"ee\, n. [F. lev['e]e, fr. lever to raise. An embankment to prevent inundation; as, the levees along the Mississippi; sometimes, the steep bank of a river. [U. S] Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.




*"American Pie" was not name of the aircraft that Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens died in, as is often assumed. See the songwriter's comments about this rumor here.
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