A long long time ago / I can still remember
September 9, 2012 6:00 PM   Subscribe

...When I was around four or five, my parents split up, and we didn't get to see a lot of my dad. So, anything that was his in our house was kind of a treasure. And I knew that record album, "American Pie." I can picture it in my head with the thumbs up and Don McLean on there. And in the top right hand corner there was my dad's name on one of those old-fashioned label makers where you could press the letters in with the white and it would come up in white raised letters...

Latest from NPR's series of Mom And Dad's Record Collection. Some similar anecdotes on Metafilter. (First link goes to NPR audio)
posted by growabrain (20 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for the link, that's a truly sweet story and mirrors my own...

I have a copy of this album, stuck in a closet with the rest of my albums at my ex-wife's house. One of my favorites. In 1971 I was stationed at Ft. Sam Houston, my wife and son (who was just turning 2) were there with me, we lived off base. Sean was fascinated by this song, I would play it often, my primary reason was to hear him sing along, "Bye, Bye, Miss Merican Pie", never getting that "A" into "Merican". I still sing it that way.

Sean died in a motorcycle accident in 1990, this song brings back that little blond 2 year old, standing in the middle of the living room in that cheap apartment, singing his heart out, never getting the "A".
posted by HuronBob at 6:22 PM on September 9, 2012 [72 favorites]

You are breaking my heart, HuronBob
posted by growabrain at 6:24 PM on September 9, 2012 [5 favorites]

I saw this album at the Brooklyn Flea this weekend and considered getting it. HuronBob makes me wish I had.
posted by Sara C. at 6:52 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Between the NPR link and HuronBob's comment I am not seeing too clearly right now.

I'm not sure why, but nearly anyone I know who bought that album in 1971 still has it saved somewhere, filed behind all of the hipper music they may have grown into. I bring it out every once in awhile and drop the needle into a groove that left my life at a more innocent, and maybe, more honest,time.
posted by Isadorady at 7:15 PM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

I sang it to my kids when they were little.. I wonder if they remember..
posted by Mojojojo at 7:21 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I met my BFF to American Pie. We were on the bus on the very first day of high school and American Pie came on the bus's radio on the station that our long-bearded lost-hippie driver always listened to (and it was a stick-shift bus!), and we both started singing along to it. She was like, "You know American Pie?" and I was like, "I LOVE American Pie!" so then one of us scooted across the aisle to sit with the other and it was the most instant connection I have ever had with another person. We were best friends by the end of the month. I still have all the notes we wrote back and forth to each other in biology class, where our teacher, in an extremely ill-fated decision, allowed us to share a lab bench. I learned pretty much nothing.

Four years later we went off to different colleges far apart, but our friendship never faded, and we have been best friends for twenty years now. We were each other's maids of honor, and she is my first (Catholic) child's (Jewish) godmother. I told the priest it was non-negotiable.

And all because Don McLean is awesome.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:50 PM on September 9, 2012 [6 favorites]

I love that song... so many memories from summer camp and my mom's car!
posted by Night_owl at 8:00 PM on September 9, 2012

My son is 21 now, but when he was a kid I would use time in the car to expand his musical education. We'd listen to music and I'd quiz him about which band was singing and then remind him of other songs they did. Eventually he got pretty good at identifying the Beatles, and REM and Hootie and the Blowfish and Lynard Skynard. It's still a family joke though that anytime he couldn't quite identify the band and they sounded vaguely female his go-to answer was "Heart!?!"

So, the radio was on any time we were in the car and I would most likely be singing along (enthusiastically, if badly). I always urged him to join in, but that just wasn't his thing and I can probably count on the fingers of one hand the times he's spontaneously sung out loud. The one exception to that was American Pie, which he knew every word of and would happily and unself-consciously sing along to, which would make me so dang happy and even now is one of my favorite memories of him as a kid.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 8:47 PM on September 9, 2012 [4 favorites]

God, I can't listen to this song. I was in a boarding school in Singapore when it came out and there was a student two doors down that loved it. He played it eleventy million times, from morning to night. Keep in mind there was no 'repeat track' device then, he would have to physically lift up the arm and put it back at the beginning of the track. Here I am getting into Leonard Cohen - Songs of Love and Hate and Roy Harper - Flat Baroque and Berserk, and I've got that schmaltz chirping away in the background incessantly.
posted by unliteral at 9:13 PM on September 9, 2012

I went to see Don McLean in Townsville in the late 80s and it was the one song he didn't do. Man, I was peeved.
posted by b33j at 9:37 PM on September 9, 2012

But Christ, is Don McLean an asshole.
posted by alex_skazat at 10:33 PM on September 9, 2012

Why? What's the story on Don McLean?
posted by pracowity at 12:06 AM on September 10, 2012

Why Don McLean is an asshole (and McLean confirms it in his response).
posted by Etrigan at 12:16 AM on September 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Interestingly, now McLean responded and confirmed his assholishness. I hadn't seen that before in Etrigan's link.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 2:15 AM on September 10, 2012

Well I should have read your whole comment, Etrigan. :)
posted by CautionToTheWind at 2:15 AM on September 10, 2012

Gosh I miss those label makers.
posted by JanetLand at 6:45 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Don McLean, American Douchebag. I love it.

Someone in life, I've noticed that with people and with institutions, sometimes the gentler and mild the image, the greater the potential for douchebag behavior. I now expect that Save the Children has office stuff that exceeds the worst of Mad Men.

I think it applies to musicians as well.
posted by C.A.S. at 6:53 AM on September 10, 2012

C.A.S., I have a friend who worked for Lego for awhile. She says it's the most depraved corporate environment she's ever encountered, and that in fact that younger the target age of the product, the more messed up the people who make up that particular team.

(That said, I don't know that anyone there is a "douchebag", just that they are not what you'd think of when you think of a nice gender-neutral creative toy.)
posted by Sara C. at 11:13 AM on September 10, 2012

I lived it in my early career at well known, nature-celebrating media institutions with acres of prestige and blue blood and some of the most screwed up workplace behavior I've seen, bar my college girlfriend's experience in humanities grad school at a public ivy - that one set the bar.

But I'm sad to think that about lego
posted by C.A.S. at 12:16 PM on September 10, 2012

When I was very little, my dad and I would sing along with American Pie while he drove us around in his old beat up pick up truck (I can still smell that truck's interior - farm dust really does have its own unique smell). It brought back such memories for me later that I always kept it on my ipod and would sometimes play it in the car. When I had my sons, I played it often, feeling it was a part of our family heritage - I had to pass it on to my children, so they could sing along, and in turn maybe they'd pass it on to theirs. Weird, maybe?

If you've ever had 3 sons, all under the age of 6, in the back of one car on a long trip, you know the kinds of arguments that happen. Absolutely nothing stopped their arguing like putting this song on the radio. My youngest was trying to sing along to it before he could fully converse, and even now, even with my oldest into some horrid screamo music, all my sons love it and know all of the words. So now I associate it with my childhood and theirs, and whether Don McLean is a douchebag or not, that song is an irrefutable part of the soundtrack of my little life.

Thanks for this post. I saw a friend post this the other day on Facebook and I meant to listen, but didn't until now. Glad I did.
posted by routergirl at 9:43 AM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

« Older A talk by writer Warren Ellis   |   "Why was I not alive and making music when there... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments