The Iowa plane crash that killed musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson in 1959 was memorialized by Don McLean in his paradoxically elusive and ubiquitous 1971 pop classic "American Pie." The crash, which the National Transportation Safety Board has just agreed to re-investigate, is known to millions as "the day the music died" because of McLean's maddeningly catchy and Dylanesque lyrics. If you were to take a long drive in your car today and let the radio scan, a DJ somewhere will doubtless spin "American Pie" before you arrive at your destination.
Stoned and unstoned legions (hey, it came out in 1972) have tried to interpret McLean's dutifully obscure references, but McLean has rarely given clues to the song's meaning beyond admitting Holly's plane crash was an inspiration. McLean did give one indelible reply, however, to the unrelenting question about "what the song really means." He said it means "I'll never have to work another day in my life."
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