Don McLean - American Pie
"American Pie" has been a staple of roaming guitarists and underground buskers the world over, but few buskers have ever captured the essence of this track as well as the original. It is hardly surprising that "American Pie" has become a favourite of so many people, a track which appeals to all types of music fans and which still manages to transcend time. There are few people I suspect in the English speaking western world (and probably beyond) who do not at least know the words to the refrain.
Quite why this should be so is uncertain. Part hymn to God, part paean to the American way of life, part panegyric to an unnamed artist whose music provided the backdrop to the protagonist's best moments in life, the song has become synonymous with dead musicians. As a consequence, I have heard it sung with the names Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, John Bonham and Ian Curtis inserted, all no doubt meaning something to the minstrel who happens to be holding the guitar at the time. Perhaps its very adaptability is what makes it so endearing. However, in spite of the fact that it has been virtually played to death (especially in its bastardised single version), it still remains a classic American folk song. And wasn't the original subject of all this Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens?
The other two tracks on this EP are generally in the same vein. "Empty Chairs" is a similarly sentimental piece, while "Dreidel" is somewhat more focused. Like a lot, indeed almost all of McLean's music, it owes a huge debt to the white folk tradition stretching all the way back to Woody Guthrie.
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