McLean's legendary 1971 hit has been the subject of speculation and debate among fans for nearly fifty years.
The meaning behind one of the most enigmatic songs in American pop history is to be revealed. Don Mclean will finally tell us the real inspiration for ‘American Pie’ when the original manuscript for the song goes up for auction in April, according to Reuters.
Auction house Christie’s will put the manuscript for the 1971 single under the hammer on April 7th in New York, and it is anticipated that it will attract bids of up to $1.5 million. That’s not quite the record for a piece of sheet music – held by Bob Dylan’s equally iconic ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ which sold for $2 million last year – but bidding on the day may well exceed that.
Don McLean's 'American Pie' manuscript goes under the hammer in April
The manuscript apparently consists of sixteen pages of both handwritten and typed drafts, and include hand-made corrections and deletions. Francis Wahlgren, a spokesman for Christie’s, said that it offers “a remarkable insight into the mind of Don McLean and into this incredible song that has touched so many people.”
McLean, 69, is regarded as one of the most compelling and inscrutable songwriters of his generation. While he has previously acknowledged that the beginning of the epic 8-minute song is about the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson in a 1959 plane crash (“the day the music died”), the rest is shrouded in mystery, and has been the subject of debate among fans ever since.
Some have speculated that the allusions to cultural figures like James Dean, John Lennon and Karl Marx indicate that the song is about culture and rebellion. But Wahlgren added in his statement: “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.”
Despite being reticent about revealing its true meaning for so long, McLean has apparently decided to sell the manuscript on a whim. He said to Reuters: “the writing and the lyrics will divulge everything there is to divulge.”
He previously joked in a 1991 interview: “When people ask me what 'American Pie' means, I tell them it means I don't ever have to work again if I don't want to.”
If only time travel was invented, he could go back now and write on the script ‘do not let Madonna sing this.’