"American Pie" is one of the most iconic songs in popular music. However, its enigmatic lyrics full of references to pop culture and Americana have mystified listeners since singer Don McLean released the single in 1971. He has generally declined to discuss the meaning behind the song's lyrics until now.
Christie's will auction off McLean's original manuscript and notes to the song on April 7 in New York. The 16 pages of the manuscript and drafts are estimated to auction for $1 to $1.5 million, according to a press release from Christie's.
"I thought it would be interesting as I reach age 70 to release this work product on the song American Pie so that anyone who might be interested will learn that this song was not a parlor game. It was an indescribable photograph of America that I tried to capture in words and music and then was fortunate enough through the help of others to make a successful recording," McLean wrote on his website in regard to the upcoming auction.
Since the eight-minute song debuted in October 1971, fans have tried to interpret McLean's lyrics. He's been mostly mum on their meaning through the years, except on the lyric "the day the music died," which references the February 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson.
"American Pie" is without question the most successful song of McLean's career. The song hit No.1 in January 1972 and spent 19 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It has since been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts named it a "Song of the Century" in 2001. McLean has amassed more than 40 gold and platinum records worldwide throughout his career.
But let's not forget that Madonna covered the song in 2000. How could we ever forget that? That was just a year before McLean would get the greatest honor ever when Weird Al Yankovic's "The Saga Begins" parodied both "American Pie" and Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace when the song hit airwaves in 1999.
It might be hard to top the record for a handwritten manuscript set by Bob Dylan last year for his lyrics to "Like a Rolling Stone," which sold at auction for $2 million. But considering how much "American Pie" is ingrained in our culture and how mysterious it is, McLean's manuscript could still collect a pretty penny.