Mudcat Café message #2201393 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #106505   Message #2201393
Posted By: GUEST,Neil D
24-Nov-07 - 01:15 PM
Thread Name: American pie has a lot to answer for.
Subject: RE: American pie has a lot to answer for.
I think its a very good song but I was always wary about the seeming implication that nothing was any good in music after Buddy Holly died.The Paul Lemat character in "American Graffiti" said exactly that but was speaking in 1962 when it was more accurate as to the current state of Rock&Roll or pop. In the early Sixties with Holly dead, Elvis in the army, Chuck in prison, Jerry Lee in disgrace and Little Richard attending Bible college, the record companies had replaced them with clean-cut, wholesome, non-threatening and frankly quite boring artists like Frankie Avalon, Neil Sedaka etc. The catchphrase of 1962/63 within the industry was "Rock&Roll is dead".
    For Don McLean to imply the same sentiment almost a decade later always felt to me like a rank dismissal of the Folk Resurgence, the British Invasion and Motown, as well as the cross pollination of these and other diverse forms that to me made the Sixties one of the most important eras in the history of music. After 1964 the industry exploded and nobody ever again said that Rock was dead.
    Now don't take me wrong, I love Buddy Holly. I think that he was a huge if under-rated influence on music. The Crickets were really the first self-contained Rock band, playing their own instruments and writing their own music. As he got more and more into studio craft and production he would have continued to be a major influence, even to this day. But to dis every thing that came after is totally is, to me, a type of musical jingoism. I might be misinterpreting Mr. McLean but thats always the way I felt on a gut level since the first time I heard "American Pie".
    As to the use of obscure references, I don't really have a problem with it. I understand those who love a straightforward lyric.
A plain-spoken message, especially in political or protest songs, can be very powerful. Listen to some of Dylan's early songs like "Just a Pawn in Their Game" or "Talking John Birch Society Blues" and you can't deny their impact. But there has been a long tradition of mystical imagery in Art, Poetry, Music and Literature going all the way back to "The Book of Revelation" and beyond. Both styles of lyric writing have their place, although I agree that in the hands of an inexperienced or pretentious writer obscure references for their own sake can become mawkish or inane.