Friday, 17 June 2005

A long, long time ago.....

".............I can still remember how that music used to make me smile."

The current success of The Da Vinci Code and cryptography led my head to song lyrics. One of the best known "cryptic" songs of my generation is "American Pie" by Don McLean so I dredged up what I thought I knew about it and then had a swift search on the web for some interpretations. Wow! What a goldemine! Here are just two of the many hits I got. Understanding American Pie is beautifully presented and offers a narrative about each verse. America Pie offers a line by line analysis and is far more deferential, many interjections are offered with question marks and requests for further information.

I don't suppose any of this will mean much to those not of the "Rock & Roll" generation but we have some obligations, we're the first generation to carry with us this musical culture and legacy. We're aiming for "50 at 50", a generation able to spend GBP50 a month on music or films, we can usually point to the musical genesis of current popular songs, something our parents were unable to do - people raised on Glen Miller, Jim Reeves and Frank Sinatra found it difficult to embrace Alice Cooper but there are any number of Alice clones doing the rounds now and many of us can point at the origin of the genre. We recognise (and cringe!) when members of the Bay City Rollers are arrested, the current crop of "plastic" bands are disparagingly compared with The Monkees. We know that Smokey Robinson was a great live act but he might not turn up and that the latest trash metal or thrash metal will have to go a long way to match tracks like "Paranoid" or "The Ace of Spades" for the sheer adrenalin rush. Dylan is poetry to music and despite the attentions Rolf Harris "Stairway" is still a gothic masterpiece. Some of us even know the only rock track with the word "politess" in the lyrics!

So if you believe in rock and roll and that music saves your moral soul share it with the teenyboppers out there now - you owe it to them :-)

5 careful considerations:

Rob Spence said...

Interesting - I'd always thought that chevy / levee was just a lame rhyme: didn't know it was a lame rhyme in a period ad. Great song - he peaked early didn't he?

Nogbad said...

I'm unconvinced by some of the suggestions, particularly the link to the civil rights workers, but I think it's interesting to see such detailed analysis of such a relatively simple writing form.

McLean probably had three songs didn't he? American Pie, Vincent and And I love you so. Not a very big output really which is a shame because he clearly had the skill to write great pop songs with some meaning.

Nogbad said...

So we spent some time in the car today and entertaining a 9 year old on the M25 isn't the easiest job in the world. His maths is great so we did converting the temperature display from Celcius to Farenheit and reading all the motorway signs and such like and then I shoved "American Pie" in the CD player.

From the M25/M1 junction we had it on repeat all the way to Walton Hall and all the way back (I was getting a tad bored and snuck in some other stuff but we had to keep going back to it!)

IngeB said...

Don did have another (small) hit, I think it's called 'Castles in the Air' (and it might have been the backside to 'Starry, starry night'. It has the line 'Save me from all the troubles in the world', which comes to my mind sometimes when problems just seem to stack up.

Nogbad said...

Ah yes - the recuperative power of music :-) Maybe that should be a separate thread? What tracks work best when the wheels are coming off and the brown smelly is meeting the fast revolving?

Here you'll find the lyrics to "Castles in the Air" and it's a lovely song :-)