Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Day the Music Died

But February made me shiver,
With every paper I'd deliver,
Bad news on the doorstep...
I couldn't take one more step.
I can't remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
But something touched me deep inside,
The day the music died.
American Pie by Don McLean
When I first heard that song as a kid, the words seemed like a dark puzzle to me. I had no idea what it all meant, and yet I was compelled to memorize it. A decade or so later, I came across the famous Usenet annotation and I was finally enlightened.

Recently, that song, out of nowhere, got locked in my head again. Like anything that pops into my brain, I Googled it, and then I was reminded that today, February 3rd, marks the 51st anniversary of The Day the Music Died.

On this day in 1959, a small-plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, killed three legendary American rock and roll musicians: Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson.

And that's where those mysterious lyrics come in. "American Pie" was recorded in 1971 by Don McClean as a tribute to Buddy Holly and a commentary on how rock and roll changed and became less danceable in the years after the deaths of the three young idols. Here is a live performance of the song:

(YouTube video)

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