Thursday, January 24, 2008

the day the music died

Don McLean has never come out and said exactly what "American Pie" is about, and though the most common (and probable) explanation is that the song chronicles the upheaval of the 1960s as seen through pop music, beginning with the death with Buddy Holly and ending with the Rolling Stones at Altamont Speedway, I've seen interpretations of varying degrees of improbability, ranging from the assassination of President Kennedy to an unlikely dissertation on the spirtual dissolution traditional Christians see in the 1960s' rejection of the outward-seeming righteousness of the 1950s.

My girls know the chorus and parts of the verses to "American Pie" and belt them out with great enthusiasm. They know who The Beatles are, and who Bob Dylan is, but they've never heard a song by the Stones, by Buddy Holly, or by a number of the other groups mentioned in the song. (Evangeline does know a different cover of "Turn, Turn, Turn" from the one covered by the Byrds.)

I think for a lot of people, the music died when John Lennon was assassinated. I wonder if someone more familiar with pop music than I could compose lyrics connected to 9-11 and the fall of the Twin Towers, which ignited a cultural shift in many ways as profound as the one spearheaded 40 years ago by The Beatles.

But I think it likely that the music died, either with the debut of "Funkytown" or some other discoworthy moment; or during some period of horror during the 1980s, such as the debut of "The Best of Tiffany" on 8-track, or perhaps with the onset of the career of Rick Astley.

But whenever it kicked the bucket, I think it's been dead on the table for a while now.

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