About the Songwriter

 

Verse 2, continued

This verse helps us to further identity Miss American Pie, whose brief introduction in the chorus needed this additional exposition; and which, along with verse 1 and the chorus, also serves to establish the 1950s as the reference point for the rest of the song. In so doing, McLean characterizes the period primarily through its musical symbol (Holly), using him and the music ("those rhythm and blues") as a metaphor for the innocence of the times, and a sacred thing. The "day the music died" now takes on the significance of a lost faith in the values of a passing era and the sorrow the narrator feels at their passing: blow number two. Having personified America as a woman, "Bye bye Miss American Pie" now more clearly becomes a farewell to the America he once knew.

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So now the song is set up, and we can begin to make some sense of what is about to unfold. From the next verse onward, the narrator steps back and sets this music (i.e. this other era) against the musical figures of the sixties and the changes they represent in American culture during these years.

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