Essay An Analysis of “American Pie”

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American Pie” is an impressionistic ballad by Don Mclean which features unique and intriguing lyrics. It has imaginative changes in tempo, vocal delivery and instrumentation, and imparts a wide range of emotions ranging from pure joy, to melancholy and despair. The song takes the listener on an autobiographical journey through the turbulent 1960’s with references to the events that shaped the era. Don Mclean was enshrined in the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 2004 for his work on “American Pie” (Don McLean: Songwriters Hall of Fame Inauguration). With its use of formal structure, allusions, and figurative language, the song, “American Pie”, has many poetic qualities. The formal structure of “American Pie” allows Don Mclean to use multiple…show more content…
Although the formal structure of this song is quite good, perhaps the use of allusion is one of the most important poetic devices found in “American Pie”. An allusion is a reference to a famous person, place or thing. In the first verse Mclean writes “But February made me shiver with ever paper I’d deliver”. This allusion refers to the plane crash on February 3, 1959 that killed Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper, J.P. Richardson. Another famous allusion in this song is found in the fifth verse, Mclean makes a reference to the holy trinity, he writes, “And the three men I admired the most: The father, son, and the Holy Ghost, they caught the last train to the coast, the day the music died”. This allusion is particularly brilliant on the part of Don Mclean, because it allows each individual person to use their imagination in order to interpret his allusion. This allusion has multiple meanings, for an example if one analysis this allusion in the context of music, Mclean was obviously referring once again to the death of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper, J. P. Richardson. However one could also analyze this allusion in the context of the political leaders of the 1960’s and thinks that Mclean was alluding to the deaths of President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy. In addition to formal structure and allusions Don Mclean uses Figurative language, such as metaphors,

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