As a teenager growing up in the 1970's Tehran, I looked forward to my monthly purchase of a small booklet of songs called "Top 20," which featured lyrics to popular British and American songs of our time. The popular little book was my helper in learning and singing along songs that in retrospect have formed so many of my and my contemporaries' memories. I have searched high and low to find one of those "Top 20" booklets or an image of one, to show it to my kids, but I have been unsuccessful.
"American Pie" by Don McLean was a song in one of those "Top 20" booklets with very long lyrics which I could sing along to, but could never understand the meaning of them. Indulging in some major nostalgia recently, I decided to find the lyrics to the song hoping to find out whether some 40 years of living in the U.S. have helped me to understand the meaning of the song.
I read the words again while listening to the song, and again realized how little I understood their meaning and the many references the song makes to events and things I cannot decipher. So I decided to use the Internet to learn about the meaning of the song. I was surprised to find out that I'm not alone in my search for the meaning of this song! It turns out that the lyrics have remained illusive to many for decades!
I found a 2015 article which covered the then recent sale of the manuscript of the song's lyrics for $1.2 million at a Christie's auction. I learned that the words "the day the music died" referenced the plane crash on February 3, 1959 in which musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. Richardson were killed. The great loss to American music had deeply saddened a young Don McLean, who later wrote the song about it.
"The song includes references to Karl Marx; Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (or, more likely, John Lennon); the Fab Four; the Byrds; James Dean; Charles Manson; the Rolling Stones; the “widowed bride,” Jackie Kennedy; and the Vietnam War," says the Washington Post article, which you can read
Here's a YouTube link of the song with the lyrics:
Here's Ritchie Valens's gem, "La Bamba." He was only 17 years old when he died.
And here's Buddy Holy's "Peggy Sue." He wass 22.
So, there you have it. I think good music never dies.