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Lyric Music

American Pie

Don McLean

Album American Pie

Don McLean’s iconic 1971 song “American Pie” which was originally released on the 24th October 1971 through United Artists, and re-released in November 1991. Written by McLean himself with production done by Ed Freeman for The Rainbow Collection, Ltd.

“American Pie” is Don McLean’s most popular hit from the American singer-songwriter Don McLean from his second studio album of the same name in 1971. The song’s origins were debated for many years, with employees from Caffè Lena in Saratoga Springs in New York claiming that the start of McLean’s song writing process for “American Pie” began there. However, McLean disputed these claims by stating that the song was only written in Cold Spring in New York and Philadelphia. “Tin & Lint”, a bar on Caroline Street in Saratoga Springs claims the song was written there and has a plaque that marks the table. McLean also revealed that the song made its debut in Philadelphia at Temple University, where McLean opened for Laura Nyro on the 4th March 1971.

Lyrically, the song speaks on nostalgia and is full to the brim of pop-culture references from that time. The track discusses the evolution of music, particularly rock and roll through the 60’s, as well as the 1959 plane crash that led to the devastating death of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. Throughout the song, McLean unpacks and explores many major events of the 60s including moon landings, the rise and fall of Bob Dylan, The Beatles fame and the death of Janis Joplin.

For years, McLean refused to admit or reveal the song’s meaning, and insisted that every listener have their own unique interpretation of the song. However, in 2015 after the song’s original manuscript and notes were sold at an action for $1.2 million, Don McLean finally spoke about “American Pie” and revealed its meaning in an interview with the Huffington Post:

“Basically, in ‘American Pie’ things are heading in the wrong direction. It is becoming less ideal, less idyllic. I don’t know whether you consider that wrong or right, but it is a morality song in a sense. I was around in 1970 and now I am around in 2015 … there is no poetry and very little romance in anything anymore, so it is really like the last phase of ‘American Pie.’”

There is no official music video for “American Pie”, however the official audio upload on YouTube has almost 50 million views with over 410 thousand likes.

“American Pie” is certified Platinum in the UK and 3x Platinum in the US. The track is listed as #5 on RIAA’s Songs of the Century project.

Read the lyrics to “American Pie” here.

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Release Date

24th October 1971


Don McLean


Ed Freeman


United Artists

Chart Rankings

- #1 in Australia - #26 in Belgium - #1 in Canada - #7 in Ireland - #1 in New Zealand - #9 in Norway - #2 in the UK - #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 - #1 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary - #9 in West Germany

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