Entertainment & Arts

Don McLean to reveal meaning of American Pie lyrics

Don McLean
Image caption American Pie reached number one in the US in 1972

Don McLean will reveal the meaning of the lyrics to his hit song American Pie when the original manuscript goes under the hammer in New York in April.

McLean has previously acknowledged that the beginning of the song is about the death of Buddy Holly, but has remained elusive about the rest of the track.

"The writing and the lyrics will divulge everything there is to divulge," he told Reuters.

The 16-page manuscript could fetch up to $1.5m (£919,000) at auction.

The 1971 song, which is McLean's best-known work, was named a Song of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America in 2001.

The six verses are understood to reflect the social upheavals of the 1960s and '70s.

'Remarkable insight'

"I wanted to capture, probably before it was ever formulated, a rock and roll American dream," McLean, 69, told Reuters.

McLean's famous chorus features memorable lines like: "Bye-bye, Miss American Pie/Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry."

Elsewhere, his wide-reaching rhymes talk of how "the jester sang for the king and queen/In a coat he borrowed from James Dean" and "while Lennon read a book on Marx/The quartet practiced in the park".

McLean said he decided to sell the manuscript, which includes multiple drafts with handwritten notes and deletions, on a whim.

Francis Wahlgren of auction house Christie's said: "The fact that the drafts, the working process of it, are all being offered as this lot makes it a remarkable insight into the mind of Don McLean and into this incredible song that has touched so many people.

"There is something about this song that captures the era of that period and there is a kind of innocence to it, a loss of innocence in America."

Bob Dylan's lyrics for Like A Rolling Stone set the auction record for a handwritten manuscript, when they sold for $2m (£1.2m) last year.

US singer-songwriter McLean has amassed more than 40 gold and platinum records worldwide during his career.

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