Wednesday, 4 June 2014

This'll be the day that I die. . .

The classic American Pie by Don McLean is probably his most famous work.  He has talked about the song in interviews as being about the day Buddy Holly died (in a plane crash with Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens).

McLean has preferred not to disclose too much information about the meanings of the song lyrics, but that he wrote it based on "the day the music died" when the three famous musicians lost their lives while on a national music tour.  That particular phrase jumped out at him as a headline on a newspaper he saw while on the job as a paperboy.

I love the song because like all good songs, it tells a story, it paints that picture of memories, of the flurry of activities and the changing times, moving from a time of innocence to chaos (on some levels more than others).  It records moments like snapshots in time, that you can revisit when you hear the words sung again, the way that the artists lingers on certain syllables of the words that need to be emphasised, for dramatic effect or because it sounds nice sung in that way.  McLean does this quite aptly in the song with the deliberate slowing down of the tempo.

Buddy Holly's last moments was best encapsulated in the movie La Bamba about Ricardo Valenzuela's rise to fame in a short period of time before the fatal crash.  Conspiracies abound about the lucky musician who got away when Valens won the coin toss to join the other stars on the plane ride.  The context of the story brings back memories for me as a music teacher having taught the music of Valens and Selena (another Latina artist who suffered a similar fate, dying at the hands of the president of her fan club just as her star was set to rise further), to year 13 music students.

I can't remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died

The above verse was brought to my attention by +Mark Maddren who sent me a message about my husband's unveiling in the weekend.  It has been important for me to keep the music playing, keep the music alive, because I need to keep making harmony with people, continue to sing melodies that hopefully inspire some other countermelodies to build some melodic motifs and themes that can extend to some compositional devices being used to enhance them (in laymen's term - have a really cool jam session, for the romantics at heart - make sweet music).  From time to time you will come across people whose songs will match yours.  Just enjoy the music :-)

And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train to the coast
The day the music died. . .

Before we catch that last train to the coast, I hope you keep the music playing in your lives too.
Thanks +Mark Maddren :-)