Saturday, December 17, 2011

Today in Pop Culture History: Everything is Illuminated

And now the answers to yesterday's "American Pie" quiz.
  • 1-E: A gimme. The "February made me shiver" is a giveaway. The entire song is about McLean's pretty over-the-top despair at the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly. Apparently, he was neutral on Valens. The baffling chorus the "good old boys" sing--"This'll be the day that I die"--is a reference to Holly's hit "That'll Be the Day That I Die." Is is a myth, however, that the plane was named American Pie.
  • 2-C: Bob Dylan is the impotent "jester" performing for the King and Queen (whose identity is still debated--Elvis? Pete Seeger? Joan Baez? Connie Francis?). McLean, a folk singer himself, apparently was a little hacked off at what he saw as Dylan's pandering to Brit rock. More on that later. Oh, and the "cast"? Dylan was injured in a motorcycle accident in 1966. This could also explain the "moss grows fat on a rolling stone" line.

The jacket was apparently not the only thing he borrowed.
  • 3-A: The "sergeants" of the Pepper variety. John Lennon also gets a shout-out--It's "Lennon" (not Lenin) reading a book on Marx, referencing the Beatles more political, less "Love Me Do" phase.
Not pictured: Book on Marx.
  • 4-D: Here's where McLean really starts to show the rage. Not a Rolling Stones fan, is Donnie. Jagger (or "Jack Flash," as those of you who like the song "Jumping Jack Flash" or the excellent '80s film realized) has sold out to the dark side of commercial music and basically destroyed the '60s. 
But he looks like such a nice boy!
  • 5-F: Another gimme, as Janis is the only "girl" on the list. She was a bluesy holdout for McLean, but her death in 1970 precludes any happy news-giving.

  • 6-B: More hating on the Stones. The concert the band gave at the Altamont Speedway in December 1969 was not so much another Woodstock and more an enormous clusterf&k. The Hell's Angels the Stones had hired as security (the "angels born in Hell") weren't so effective. The acid the band paid them in probably didn't help. 
Not getting a real "Summer of Love" vibe here.
After the inevitable riot (a man was stabbed to death and scores were beaten), the Stones were helicoptered out, according to McLean "laughing with delight," though that's probably unfair.

As for the "three men [he] admires most . . . the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost"? Your guess is as good as mine.

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