About the Songwriter

 

Verse 2, continued

This kind of unquestioning faith also has its corollary in the simpler faith Americans once held in the American way of life, a belief that had many convinced during the 1950s that they were living in God’s country. But who is this woman? Because we will see her rejecting the narrator by the end of this verse, it is safe to say that she represents American herself, as we were about to leave behind the placid conformities of the 1950s for the radical changes awaiting us in the next decade. Though not explicitly stated, she is most likely Miss American Pie.

Do you believe in rock 'n roll
Can music save your mortal soul

The music now becomes an object of faith, carrying forward the religious imagery of the preceding lines. Faith in the music now replaces faith in God: essentially what is being said here is that the music of this particular period will be standing in for a simpler religious faith, which as previously mentioned represents the simpler, unquestioning innocence of the time. This metaphor of the sacredness of the music will be encountered again and again as the song unfolds—from "the sacred store" (where he'd heard the music years before) to the broken church bells, the "Father, Son and the Holy Ghost," and even their antithesis—"Satan laughing with delight." From this point forward, whatever is couched in religious terms (with one exception in verse 3) can be seen as referring back to this music, which in turn is a metaphor for the happier innocence and faith of the 1950s.

And can you teach me how to dance real slow?

This is a romantic dance. He is courting her. The slow dance itself is yet another reference to the fifties and the kind of dancing that went out of fashion in the following decade; it also alludes to the slower pace of life in America at this time.

Well, I know that you're in love with him
'Cause I saw you dancin' in the gym
You both kicked off your shoes
Man, I dig those rhythm and blues
I was a lonely teenage broncin' buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the music died

A picture of a sock hop from the fifties—when high school gyms were used as venues for school dances, where the students danced in their socks to preserve the polished wood floors. We see the narrator being rejected here, as the object of his affection finds comfort dancing with another. She has stood him up, leaving him behind with his flower and his truck: she has moved on beyond this era (the pink carnation and the pickup truck), leaving the narrator alone and stranded. Bye bye Miss American Pie.

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