According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals
and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Walter Brueggemann, "The Practice of Prophetic Imagination"


The people we later recognize as prophets, says Bible scholar Walter Brueggemann,
are also poets. They reframe what is at stake in chaotic times.

Hear a very special voice in conversation to address our changing lives
and the deepest meaning of hope this season.


Walter Brueggemann speaking at Eerdmans bookstore in Grand Rapids, Michigan, about
his new book The Practice of Prophetic Imagination: Preaching an Emancipating Word.






Walter Brueggemann
(video, 62:53)


A special cut from our interview with Walter Brueggemann. His reading of Psalm 146 (and his explanation of his understanding of the verse) is one you won't hear on the radio or in the podcast.


Photo by Celeste RC/Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0Are Conversations on Homosexuality Really Pointless?
A seminary student wants to engage in conversations about homosexuality among other faithful, as a catalyst for social justice.


Walter Brueggemann Quotes Franz Kafka
A fuller version of the quotation Brueggemann offered in our interview.

Walter Brueggemann on the Futility of the Theological Argument over Gays and Lesbians
Audio of the revered theologian explaining why the GLBTQ issue has such adrenaline in church communities and why a chance for theological discussion has passed.


AMAZON BOOKS

The necessary context of prophetic preaching, Walter Brueggemann argues, is "a contestation between narratives." The dominant narrative of our time promotes self-sufficiency at the national level (through militarism) and the personal level (through consumerism). Opposed to it is a countervailing narrative of a world claimed by a God who is gracious, uncompromising - and real. In previous work Brueggemann has pointed us again and again to the indispensability of imagination. Here he writes for those who bear responsibility for regular proclamation in communities of faith, describing the discipline of a prophetic imagination that is unflinchingly realistic and unwaveringly candid.

Editorial Reviews

"Walter Brueggemann's early work on prophecy and imagination has become foundational for a whole generation of preachers and scholars, including me. Here he returns to perhaps the most characteristic of all his myriad ventures, with unaltered vigor and razor-sharp edge. Prophets are not just provocateurs: they are those who profoundly love their people, deeply know their tradition, and can't but speak of what they both love and know. Brueggemann both loves and knows. That's what makes him a prophet. Would that we were more like him. Reading this book is a healthy first step."

 - Sam Wells, Duke University

About the Author

Walter Brueggemann is William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary and the author of numerous books including, from Fortress Press, The Prophetic Imagination, rev. ed. (2001); The Word Militant: Preaching a Decentering Word (2007); and Like Fire in the Bones: Listening for the Prophetic Word in Jeremiah (2006).

Biography

Walter Brueggemann is William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary. He is the world's leading interpreter of the Old Testament and is the author of numerous books, including Westminster John Knox Press best sellers such as Genesis and First and Second Samuel in the Interpretation series, An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination, and Reverberations of Faith: A Theological Handbook of Old Testament Themes.

Product Details
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Fortress Press (January 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800698975
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800698973


Want to know more about Brueggemann?
Go to our friends over at Homebrew!
http://homebrewedchristianity.com/2008/10/08/walter-brueggemann-on-the-prophetic-imagination-for-our-political-homebrewed-christianity-ep27/


Also, from an older transcript at American Public Media,
given on December 22, 2011 - http://being.publicradio.org/programs/2011/prophetic-imagination/transcript.shtml



What do we mean by the word Literal?


by Mason Slater
February 15, 2012

Suggesting that “I just read the Bible literally” is often used as a trump card in debates, especially over issues like differing interpretations of the Genesis narratives or apocalyptic literature like Revelation. The assumption being made is that one person is taking the text seriously – literally – while the other is twisting it to fit their theological agenda.

I’ve seen this play out in pop-theology quite often, and even promoted as the only faithful hermeneutic for approaching the Scriptures by some theologians. But even though it has a certain surface level appeal, I’ve come to believe this is an inherently problematic way to frame the issue. For one thing, it often takes for granted that a “literal” reading that is obvious to us in the 21st century would be anything like how the original readers would have understood the text; for another it begs the question what do we mean by “literal” in the first place?

In this clip from BioLogos N.T. Wright and Peter Enns discuss the term literal, and how interpreting the Biblical text might not be quite that simple.






If Jesus is “Masculine,” the Holy Spirit is “Feminine”

February 6, 2012

Rachel Held Evans has awoken me from my bloggging slumber.

She threw out a gauntlet recently, challenging men to respond to a statement John Piper made at his recent pastors conference devoted to the theme, “masculine Christianity.”

John Piper has caused a bit of a kerfuffle in the blogging world recently with his proclamation at a recent pastors conference that, “God has given Christianity a masculine feel.” God, Piper said, revealed Himself in the Bible as king not queen; father not mother.” Furthermore, “the second person of the Trinity is revealed as the eternal Son not daughter; the Father and the Son create man and woman in His image and give them the name man…the Son of God came into the world to be a man; He chose 12 men to be His apostles; the apostles appointed that the overseers of the Church be men; and when it came to marriage they taught that the husband should be the head.”

Piper concludes that “God has given Christianity a masculine feel.” I say that Christianity that has given God a masculine feel.

Granted, there are plenty of male-oriented images, allusions, and references in Scripture that are male-oriented. (It doesn’t surprise anyone to learn that the Bible’s authors are mostly — or exclusively — male in mainly patriarchal contexts). “Father” and “Son” are unmistakably male references. The term “masculine,” however, is a highly ambiguous, socially constructed, and culturally dependent term. Further, as Scot McKnight points out, the Greek word for ”masculine” (andreia) never appears in the New Testament (see McKnight for the lone exception, which does not save Piper’s argument).

But I want to focus on another issue. Piper bases much of his argument for a “masculine Christianity” on the idea that God is revealed as male. God (Yahweh) is the eternal “Father”; the eternal “Son of God” becomes incarnate as a human male in Jesus of Nazareth. What do we make of this language? Is “Father” and “Son” supposed to be interpreted literally, or do these terms denote the familiarity and intimacy of the relationship itself? This question flings us headlong into a debate regarding the nature of religious language. Piper’s literalistic hermeneutic involves a univocal view of language, such that “Father” becomes exclusive of anything “feminine” and is used to prioritize the male over the female. It’s a handy move if you want to retain patriarchy. But is God actually gendered as male and therefore exclusively or primarily masculine (whatever that might actually mean?). Any literal ascription of gender to the eternal divine being (think ‘ontological Trinity’) has generally been ruled quite out of bounds in Christian orthodoxy. The notions of divine simplicity, unboundedness, incorporeality, etc., long have prevented theologians from taking gender references to God literally.

Of course, in the incarnation, the second person of the Trinity quite literally becomes in-fleshed in the Jewish, male body of Jesus of Nazareth. Christians rightly take joy and comfort in the particularity of the incarnation for, in Jesus, God was and is reconciling the world. In and through Jesus God heals creation from the inside out. What is not assumed is not healed; therefore God becomes a unique human individual in order to heal all of humanity. The Jewish flesh of Jesus makes sense given that Jesus was to be the Messiah and his mission was to announce and embody the kingdom for Israel and on behalf of the world. But there is nothing really to suggest that the incarnation required incarnation as a male. Perhaps, as some have suggested, the Logos became a man because, to have become incarnate as a woman, and to have sacrificed oneself for the world as a woman, would have been rather unsurprising and unremarkable to first-century observers. That’s just what women do. But when Jesus, this Jewish Rabbi who had come from the right hand of God, willingly set aside his “rights” and his power in order to lay down his life in solidarity with and for the salvation of humanity, he made quite an impression (Phil 2:1-11).

Furthermore, according to orthodox theology, we must be careful when conceptually transferring from the human particularity of Jesus to his divine nature. The Council of Chalcedon asserts the two natures of Jesus are related “without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence.” The human nature of Jesus, having the particularity of male humanity, does not imply that the divine nature of Jesus becomes distinctively male – or most certainly — “masculine.” The incarnation, by the logic of the creed, does not imply that “God is male.”

Furthermore, Piper’s focus was on God the Father (Yahweh) and the Son of God. But has he forgotten the Holy Spirit? Irenaeus suggested, quite memorably, that the Son and the Spirit are the two hands of God in the world. If the Son causes us to think of God in terms of maleness and “masculinity” (again: a constructed notion), then the Spirit might draw our attention to more “feminine” aspects of God. The Spirit (“ruach” in the OT and “pneuma” in the NT) suggests creative and re-creative (nurturing, sustaining, and life-giving) activities. In Genesis 1, the Spirit hovers over the waters and spirit gives life to human and animals. The Spirit re-creates the earth (Isaiah 44:3), the Spirit comforts (Jn. 14), teaches (Lk 12:12) and heals. Images of the Spirit in the Bible include breath, wind, and wisdom (the latter is often personified in Scripture as female). The prevalence of what could be seen as female allusions in Scripture’s depiction of the Spirit led some early Christians to refer to the Holy Spirit in explicitly female language. The fourth-century Syriac Christian, Aphrahat, wrote, “By baptism we receive the Spirit of Christ, and at that moment when the priests invoke the Spirit, she opens the heavens and descends and hovers over the waters, and those who are baptized put her on” (Demonstration 6:14). Several medieval theologians felt free to play a bit fast-and-loose with gender distinctions in the Godhead, certainly allowing for a female dimension in God. But while some early Christians were happy to speak of the Spirit as “she,” our age is one that has largely forgotten the importance of the Holy Spirit altogether. As Elizabeth Johnson points out in She Who Is (Crossroad Publishing, 2002), the marginalization of the Spirit in the church corresponds to the marginalization of women in the church.

So, if one wants to speak in terms of “masculine” and “feminine” traits in Scripture and in God, one should do so hesitantly. Our talk about God must always take into account the mystery of God and the anthropomorphic and metaphorical nature of theological language–yes, even Scripture’s inspired language. To the degree that the terms “masculine” and “feminine” are helpful distinctions, the “two hands of God” in Jesus and the Spirit ought to cause us to be inclusive in term of how we speak of them in God and with respect to God’s relation to us. We should not make a habit of saying that God is, in any literal sense, either male or female. Granted, Jesus was a male. But his Jewish, male body was resurrected and has ascended. There is no way to know what resurrection and ascension imply for gender particularity.

In any case, if one wants to insist that Jesus was “masculine,” keep in mind that Jesus redefines what it means to be a human, and therefore he redefines what it means to be male and female. We dare not define Jesus’ “masculinity” in the image of our culture’s ideals. Furthermore, if Jesus is ‘masculine,’ the Spirit is “feminine” We (both male and female) are created in (the Trinitarian) God’s image; we don’t create God in our image.

God has not given us a Christianity with a masculine feel. Rather, Christianity has created a God with a masculine feel, to the extent we have forgotten that (1) God is not literally gendered (except in the incarnation) and (2) The Spirit and the Son — the two hands of the Father — suggest a diversity that just might validate the diversity in human creation and thereby give value equally, not just to both sexes, but to all configurations and combinations, in individual persons, of what society has traditionally called “feminine” and “masculine.”



The Rhetoric of Masculine Christianity


Scot McKnight
February 13, 2012

Lindsey Hankins is working on a second master’s degree and aiming at a PhD in the gendered rhetoric of martyrdom so her take on the masculine Christianity discussion provides insight. This is her response to the John Piper claim.

At a recent Desiring God conference, John Piper contended the church and its ministry ought to have a “masculine feel.” Piper argues this is simply a biblical given. In his own words,
"God revealed himself in the Bible pervasively as King, not Queen; Father, not Mother. The second person of the Trinity is revealed as the eternal Son not daughter. The Father and the Son create man and woman in his image, and give them the name “man,” the name of the male. God appoints all the priests in the Old Testament to be men. The Son of God came into the world to be a man. He chose twelve men to be his apostles. The apostles appointed that the overseers of the church be men. And when it came to marriage they taught that the husband should be the head." [emphasis mine] 
Setting aside for now the problematic conflation of predicates (i.e., ontological being as “male” and “female” and “masculinity” and “femininity” as characteristics) and a shaky exegesis of the Hebrew adam, it is true that this glaringly selective biblical portrait smacks of men. In fact, no woman can be found. Well, Eve is there but, sadly, her name seems to have been lost in translation. Yet—and this may be jarring to some readers—the fact of the matter is that Piper is actually on to something.

Whether he is aware of it or not, Piper has stepped squarely into an age-old thread of Christian thought.

When the elderly bishop of Smyrna, Polycarp, stood awaiting his martyrdom within the Roman amphitheater he’s said to have clearly heard a voice from heaven saying: “Be strong, Polycarp, and play the man.” Perhaps similar to present-day beer commercials in which manliness can be enacted or lost [e.g., losing one’s “man card”] ancient gender constituted a never-ending pursuit of virtue in which, as arguably the chief virtue, courage and manliness were practically synonymous: in both Greek and Latin the word for virtue—andreia and virtus, respectivelyfound their root in words for maleness—andros and vir. In other words, the very vocabulary of the time belied a belief that virtue or holiness were inherently masculine.

Clearly this put ancient Christian women in quite the bind: if manliness was holiness, what was it to be a woman? A pernicious and prevailing view of much of Christian history has been that women, qua women, were, to borrow Aristotle’s verbiage, “deformed males” (The Generation of Animals, 737125). If we are to take the irascible Tertullian at his word, women were “ianua diabolic” or “the gate of the devil” (On Female Dress, 1.1). The golden-mouthed Chrysostom wrote in the late fourth-century that Eve had obviously been at fault for the garden debacle simply by virtue of being, well, a woman: “…the woman taught once for all and upset everything…for the female sex is weak and vain, and here this is said of the whole sex” (On the Epistle to the Ephesians, 42.148).

But how did the early fathers speak about those obviously holy women—and there were many—who surrounded them? As almost a contradiction in terms, the presence of these women often necessitated a rhetorical sex change to accommodate the father’s pre-conceived misgivings. With more than a little back-bite to it, Clement of Alexandria hoped that at least some women could push past their inferiority: “Women must seek wisdom, like men, even if men are superior and have first place in every field, at least if they are not effeminate” (Miscellanies, PG 8.1275). Yet to do so, to pursue holiness and a life of virtue, women needed to in essence lose their womanhood. Praising Melania the Elder, her relative Paulinus of Nola remarked: “What a woman she is, if one can call so manly a Christian a woman!” (Let. 29.6). Concerning Olympias, Palladius wrote that she was “not a woman but a manly creature: a man in everything but body” (Dialogue, 56). And Melania the Younger, because of her great piety or “manly deeds” was claimed to be “like a man” by her male admirers since “she had surpassed the limits of her sex and taken on a mentality that was manly, or rather angelic” (Life of Melania the Younger, 39).

While these comments sample only the early period of Christian thought—and in that are but a drop in an ocean of similar sentiments—this notion of masculinity as equal or synonymous to holiness has clearly lingered on to the present. Against Piper’s hope that this “masculine feel” he wishes for Christianity would, as divinely instituted, be “for the maximum flourishing of both men and women,” historically this has manifestly not been the case. When holiness is equated to masculinity, it is rather difficult to side-step notions of femaleness—or “femininity”—as ontological inferiority. If by nature weaker physically, emotionally and spiritually as compared to men, the logical—and lived—conclusion against all lip service to the contrary has been that women do not share equally with men in the imago dei. As Milton would pen in his seventeenth-century Paradise Lost: “He for God only, she for God in him” (4.299).

Piper notes that his vision is “liable to serious misunderstanding and serious abuse” and I could not agree more. His claim is fatally flawed in its rather naïve assumption that masculinity is, somehow, an extra-cultural reality. Read in light of these aforementioned church fathers, there just might be an over-abundance of male activity in church history and Christian mission simply because women were told in every possible way they were not as human, not as fully human, as the men next to them. Even more troubling, his statement thatThe Son of God came into the world to be a man” seems to infer—especially in light of the greater arc of Piper’s vision—that it was maleness which God redeemed, not humanity.

Yet the most important issue is not that Piper’s view would be misunderstood. The absolute fundamental problem would be that it would be mistakenly taken as good news. The fact of the matter is that Piper is “on to something” insofar as he is rather seamlessly capitulating to a long-standing tendency in church history. When women are intentionally excised from the biblical narrative, Piper is right, Christianity sure starts to sound masculine. What the church needs now is not by any means a “masculine feel.” The church has had this broken and un-balanced “feel” for millennia and far from producing a “flourishing [for] both men and women” it has too often been complicit in a systematic de-humanization of half its constituency. When masculinity becomes the virtue par execellence the value of what it means to be a woman or “feminine” is mortally undercut. What the church desperately needs now is a prophetic voice reminding us to value both men and women as equally and wholly made in the imago dei. At the risk of sounding patronizingly obvious, this can not happen when the biblical text is intentionally re-written to exclude women and it can not happen when one aspect of God’s view of humankind is exclusively staged to norm the other. Christianity ought to have a cruiciform feel, not a masculine one.

Spanking Hurts Kids

February 11, 2012

From Time by Bonnie Rochman:
Want your kid to stop whatever dangerous/annoying/forbidden behavior he’s doing right now? Spanking will probably work — for now.
But be prepared for that same child to be more aggressive toward you and his siblings, his friends and his eventual spouse. Oh, and get ready for some other antisocial behaviors too.
A new analysis of two decades of research on the long-term effects of physical punishment in children concludes that spanking doesn’t work and can actually wreak havoc on kids’ long-term development, according to an article published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Studying physical punishment is difficult for researchers, who can’t randomly assign children to groups that are hit and those that aren’t. Instead, they follow children over many years, monitor how much they’re spanked, and then take measure of their aggression over time. “We find children who are physically punished get more aggressive over time and those who are not physically punished get less aggressive over time,” says Joan Durrant, the article’s lead author and a child clinical psychologist and professor of family social sciences at the University of Manitoba.
In fact, regardless of the age of the children or the size of the sample, none of more than 80 studies on the effects of physical punishment have succeeded in finding positive associations. “If someone were to hit us to change our behavior, it might harm our relationship with that person. We might feel resentful,” says Durrant. “It’s no different for children. It’s not a constructive thing to do.”




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"The Day America Died" and the Birth of Postmodernism



Introductory Remarks
"Not as Simple as American Pie"
Part 1
by R.E. Slater
February 14, 2012

[Disclaimer: Please note, I have not written this article as a political piece. Rather, my interest is in developing a historical perspective of Postmodernism's birth in America so that we may be better able to think about it in our contemporary cultures today.]

Last week, while driving around, I happened to be looking for a radio talk show to listen to and stumbled upon the Glenn Beck show reviewing Don McLean's song American Pie. Well that got my interest perked right away. I love the rocker sounds of the 60's and, being curious, I proceeded to listen to Glenn's political commentary about America's lost cultural icons and popular sophisms. Moreover, this got me thinking about the life-and-death stages of our philosophical eras... in this case the dying throes of the Modernistic era and the nascent birth of Postmodernism... as I was listening to Glenn's analysis of the America of the 1950s culturally dying in the face of what he perceives as today's rampant liberalism. Not being a Glenn Beck fan (literally because I don't listen to him though I have tried) but more probably because I tend to be less cynical and fatalistic about societal evolution than he is as a political (or is it religious?) commentarist. And because I don't prefer Glenn's historical nostalgic revisionisms and pontifications about America's past modernistic society and culture. For these reasons I don't generally listen to him.

Anyway, as I was listening to Glenn's reflections on American Pie it began to dawn upon me, from a postmodernist viewpoint, that the 1960's was the decade of American institutional collapse. Every major public institution was under severe attack - from the government itself, to major university campuses and smaller, municipalities, churches, and public agencies in general. Along with these public displays of outrage and dissatisfaction came the short-lived Flower Power hippie movement, Woodstock and the age of hard rock, unbridled sexual liberation, indiscriminate drug usage, fierce civil riots with a correspondent police and military response, and the collapse of Vietnam in the wake of an untimely military withdrawal of American troops from the war with China in SE Asia. All of this I lived through as a young boy, and later as a student of a major university, undergoing its own internal strifes and disturbing civic remonstrations.

Our views of society had changed. America had become disillusioned by its abilities to liberate subjugated societies from ruin and destruction. Our sons and daughters were dying at an alarming rate. The focus on our nation's civil problems were glaringly deficient and requiring much more attention to basic equalities and civil liberties. Our national budget was going bust. And our national optimism of the 1950s had collapsed with modernism's death so that we were unable to discriminate our national identity and purpose any longer. Over the next 60 years America would necessarily recommit itself to its founding charters and constitutions. Absorbing newer lessons of failure and reviewing nationalistic ideologies that continue to form even now as we grapple with the meaning and intent of postmodernism for not only America, but the western world at large.

So that as I listened to Glenn Beck explain a song that we've all have heard a thousand times - and for those of us who grew up during the 1960s and were quite familiar with McLean's inferences - I thought that this may be enlightening to review again from a socio-politico-philosophical point of view. I don't propose any solutions to Mclean's song - though I have provided plenty of commentary and articles to that end below - but I do propose that we listen to the song and observations made from a postmodernistic point-of-view. Giving to us a more physical object lesson as to what postmodernism was, and has come to be, rather than as a mere philosophical definition little understood by our present day societal culture. Lessons as important to the world-at-large, as they are to America today, in an attempt to create a generalized understanding between us of where we have come as civilizations, and what we can become as the 21st Century proceeds forwards as international communities stretching across the oceans into the Mid-East and Far-East, Africa and Latin South America.

Consequently, I have provided a final, more Emergent Christian commentary-and-reflection on postmodernism in Part 2 found further below, which I cannot provide here in my introductory comments as they would be too preliminary. So then, let us start....

R.E. Slater
February 14, 2012

*[A short aside... If anything - and I'm sorry to disappoint any of my readers but in the interest of honesty - I tend to lean towards more of a political conservatism economically - in a moderating, commonsense approach to less big government.  But not in a neo-political / neo-cultural sense, as can be seen here in this web blog journal's more liberal cultural citations and articles of humanitarian plea and gender recognitions.  But in a more formative, capitalistic engagement, entrepreneurially as opposed to today's political leanings towards social capitalism and the anti-business environments found in public schools, colleges and government. If anything, western civilization has to determine how to re-engage itself towards a socially literate capitalism as versus a constrictive socialism... these are the political hot topics of the day which we see being played out in American media. And so my vote will lean towards capitalism despite all of its social faults. I find it supports more basic human liberties while avoiding less societal egregiousness that can become more restrictive, socially demeaning, creating a more rigid economic class structure that is harder to remove oneself from. Especially when based upon opposing compelling arguments for more exasperating legislative governmental laws that are tearing apart our ability to create new industries and commerce under the largess of a big government wishing to micro-manage our lives, our trades, our worship and freedoms.

Further, making money can be a good thing especially if it can be re-directed towards creating capitalistic-based social agencies, educational units, and public institutions as evidenced in the newer courses found in colleges focusing on "Non-Profit Management" and "International Study." In any system there are faults. And no system can be perfectly in balance with one another that is equally structured on rights and liberties. Communism and Socialism had their experiments and have failed. Naked capitalism as epitomized by Ayn Rand's books have shown its failures and short-sightedness too. The best we can do is to learn to communicate in sane, common-sensical, working relationships with one another, whether liberal or conservative. Not in the current state of hyper-critical, continuing destruction of one another. To me, these are the main political issues of the day. And in the meantime it is my duty to continue to explain why I am positive on America, and on the idea of postmodernism itself, for redeeming western civilization out of its political morass and cultural instabilities. Now back to the topic at hand.... ]


* * * * * * * * * * * * *


History and emergence of Postmodernism

...After [1949], Postmodernism was applied to a whole host of movements, many in art, music, and literature, that reacted against tendencies in the imperialist phase of capitalism called "modernism," and are typically marked by revival of historical elements and techniques.[8] Walter Truett Anderson identifies Postmodernism as one of four typological world views. These four world views are:

  1. the postmodern-ironist, which sees truth as socially constructed;
  2. the scientific-rational, in which truth is found through methodical, disciplined inquiry;
  3. the social-traditional, in which truth is found in the heritage of American and Western civilization;
  4. and the neo-romantic, in which truth is found through attaining harmony with nature and/or spiritual exploration of the inner self.[9]
Postmodernist ideas in philosophy and the analysis of culture and society expanded the importance of critical theory and has been the point of departure for works of literature, architecture, and design, as well as being visible in marketing/business and the interpretation of history, law and culture, starting in the late 20th century.

These developments—re-evaluation of the entire Western value system (love, marriage, popular culture, shift from industrial to service economy) that took place since the 1950s and 1960s, with a peak in the Social Revolution of 1968—are described with the term Postmodernity,[10] as opposed to Postmodernism, a term referring to an opinion or movement. "Postmodernist" describes part of a movement; "Postmodern" places it in the period of time since the 1950s, making it a part of contemporary history.


* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Don Mclean said...

"You will find many 'interpretations' of my lyrics but none of them by me... sorry to leave you all on your own like this but long ago I realized that songwriters should make their statements and move on, maintaining a dignified silence."

I take this to mean that he wants us to find our own meaning in it, that's why music and art exists; the artists creates it and sets it free to let us all appreciate it in our own way and take from it our own special meaning.



* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Understanding American Pie

From The 1950s by David Halberstam

In the autumn of 1971 Don McLean's elegiac American Pie entered the collective consciousness, and over thirty years later remains one of the most discussed, dissected and debated songs that popular music has ever produced. A cultural event at the peak of its popularity in 1972, it reached the top of the Billboard 100 charts in a matter of weeks, selling more than 3 million copies; and at eight and a half minutes long, this was no mean feat. But this was no ordinary song, either: boldly original and thematically ambitious, what set American Pie apart had a lot to do with the way we weren't entirely sure what the song was about, provoking endless debates over its epic cast of characters. And these controversies remain with us to this day. But however open to interpretation the lyrics may have been, the song's emotional resonance was unmistakable: McLean was clearly relating a defining moment in the American experience—something had been lost, and we knew it. Opening with the death of singer Buddy Holly and ending near the tragic concert at Altamont Motor Speedway, we are able to frame the span of years the song is covering—1959 to 1970—as the "10 years we've been on our own" of the third verse. It is across this decade that the American cultural landscape changed radically, passing from the relative optimism and conformity of the 1950s and early 1960s to the rejection of these values by the various political and social movements of the mid and late 1960s.

Coming as it did near the end of this turbulent era, American Pie seemed to be speaking to the precarious position we found ourselves in, as the grand social experiments of the 1960s began collapsing under the weight of their own unrealized Utopian dreams, while the quieter, hopeful world we grew up in receded into memory. And as 1970 came to a close and the world this generation had envisioned no longer seemed viable, a sense of disillusion and loss fell over us; we weren't the people we once were. But we couldn't go home again either, having challenged the assumptions of that older order. The black and white days were over.

Bye bye, Miss American Pie

The 1950s are fondly remembered as a kind of golden age in American history, a charmed moment in time when the country seemed more confident and hopeful than it has ever been. A period of unprecedented economic prosperity, it was the era when the majority of Americans, freed from the constraints of the Great Depression and World War II, took some time off from the uncertainties of life to simply enjoy themselves; and in a long, giddy parade of marriages, babies, automobiles, suburban homes and kitchen appliances, celebrated their achievement of the American Dream. Never before had the wealth of a nation been so widely distributed. But American enthusiasms during these years were rooted in more than just the good things that money could buy. Allied victories in World War II had been great moral victories for the country as well, and as the United States rose to economic and political world dominance in the postwar years, national pride went soaring right along with it. Americans at mid-century were mighty impressed with America—and happy for awhile:

"In that era of general good will and expanding affluence, few Americans doubted the essential goodness of their society. After all, it was reflected back at them not only by contemporary books and magazines, but even more powerfully and with even greater influence in the new family sitcoms on television. These - in conjunction with their sponsors' commercial goals - sought to shape their audience's aspirations. However, most Americans needed little coaching in how they wanted to live. [Americans] were optimistic about the future."

From The 1950s by David Halberstam


* * * * * * * * * * * * *

“American Pie” explained by Glenn Beck:
What does “The Day the music died” mean?

by Glenn Beck

Part 1:



click to listen to Glenn's radio commentary

Part 2:



click to listen to Glenn's radio commentary

“Our culture has erased the meaning of anybody who tried to issue a warning. Anybody who was on the other side. They’re trying to do it now with the ‘Hobbit’ and the ‘Lord of the Rings’ and they are saying that that has nothing to do with Jesus and Christianity. That was the point. They’re trying tried to do it with ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ and the ‘Adventure of the Chronicles of Narnia’. They try to do this every step of the way and they’ve done it with much of music,” Glenn said on radio this morning.

He was specifically referring to songs like “Revolution” by The Beatles, which was clearly suspicious of violent revolution and uprisings, as well as “American Pie” by Don McLean.

Many people think that the song “American Pie” is about the death of Buddy Holly and other musicians in a plane crash, but Glenn presented a reading of the lyrics on radio and showed how it could also be seen as a warning against the danger of violent uprisings like what is happening now with Occupy Wall Street.

“ I’ve never understood I drove the Chevy to the levee, I didn’t know what that was. Let’s just start there on the simple part because Chevy, just think of Chevy and mom and apple pie. He’s making a point here. Chevy, I drove my Chevy to the levee. This actually goes back into the 1950s and a Dinah Shore commercial for Chevy,” Glenn explained.

Watch the commercial Glenn is referring to below:




“So America is the greatest country of all and it was an era that believed in America. I drove my Chevy to the levee. I drove the Chevy. I bought into the idea that America was the greatest.”

“So in the second verse he goes back to his childhood and he goes back to sock hops in the gym and the pickup trucks and… and here he’s talking about the book of love, which was a song by the Monotones in 1957 and he asked her about faith. He asked her about faith and whether she believes, no matter what, if the Bible tells her so. That is the representation of the faith in the Fifties. He then talks about, do you have faith in rock and roll, that music will save your mortal soul.”

“But music is the metaphor for life in America. So the girl moves on to somebody else, leaving him with his truck and the carnation. But it’s not really about the girl. It’s about America. She’s moved on from all of those things just as America began to move on from all of those things that faith would help you, that faith, you would do it through faith. You would do things because the Bible told you so. But now you’re starting to believe that music will save your soul.”

Glenn played more of the song, reaching the part where McLean sings “Now for 10 years we’ve been on our own”.

“For ten years now we’ve been on our own. It’s the decade of the Sixties. Remember in the Fifties you had faith, you had the Bible, you had family, you had all of these things that were there. But now for ten years we’ve been on our own and moss grows fat on a Rolling Stone. This is referring to Bob Dylan who the court jester and his song like a Rolling Stone. Also Dylan wore a coat from James Dean on the cover of his ’63 album Free Wheelin’ and McLean laments all of the change in our values that was occurring in the 1960s when he said that’s not how that’s not the way it used to be.”

“So he’s singing dirges in the dark mourning the loss of America, that America is changing fundamentally. Lenin read a book of Marx. We know that John Lennon was influenced at the time by Karl Marx. Lennon read a book of Marx. The quartet practiced in the park. Could be a reference to the Beatles preparing for their role in the cultural revolution. And as the ultimate icons of the new era. But McLean is saying, but we sang dirges in the dark because we knew what was coming.”

What was coming?

Helter Skelter in a summer swelter
The birds flew off with the fallout shelter
Eight miles high and falling fast It landed foul on the grass
The players tried for a forward pass
With the jester on the sidelines in a cast
Now the halftime air was sweet perfume
While sergeants played a marching tune
We all got up to dance
Oh, but we never got the chance
‘Cause the players tried to take the field,
The marching band refused to yield.
Do you recall what was revealed,
The day the music died?
We started singing

“Helter Skelter in a Summer Swelter, again the Beatles song reference also indicates the chaos and the violence that broke out in the summer of ’68. The Byrds he spells with a Y, flew off to the fallout shelter. Nature, represented by the Byrds, sense the danger, headed for safety in a shelter. But eight miles high is another song reference by the band the Byrds. So they are falling fast, because everything is falling fast. Everybody, the smart people, nature knows, get into a fallout shelter. Then he goes into the youth culture clashing with the government violently, using a football metaphor.”

“You’re at halftime. He said the players youth going for a forward pass. The players going for a forward pass. That’s the youth, going for a forward pass. And the government hitting back. And the jester on the sidelines in a cast. Remember that’s, the jester is Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan had a serious motorcycle accident for a while and he was healing on his own and music flounder everything kind of floundered for a time. Then he gets to halftime.”

“Halftime, he’s seeing the summer of love. This is 1967, a brief respite in ’67 with the flower children. Sergeant’s playing a marching tune. That’s the Beatles and Sergeant Pepper. And the summer of love was an opportunity to get up and dance. But the violence returned in the summer of ’68. And remember we’re here at ’68, recreate ’68. We never got the chance.”

“We just passed our summer of love. What happened there in the park, that was just love. There were people in the park that were just trying to be loved. We’re now headed for 1968.”

“What happened in the summer of ’68. Do you remember, do you recall what was revealed, the Miss America protest of ’68 when women were burning their bras and everything else. But also Altamont, and this is such a clear, clear message against what is coming and what happened in an event that almost is erased. It’s more important than Woodstock, and it was it’s being erased in history. Here he is warning.”

There we were all in one place
A generation lost in space With no time left to start again
So come on Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Jack Flash sat on a candle stick
‘Cause fire is the devil’s only friend.
As I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage
No angel born in hell
Could break that satan’s spell
And as flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
I saw satan laughing with delight
the day the music died.

“ Because fire is its only friend. Okay. Gathering all in one place, 300,000 flower children flocked to Altamont in the fall of 1969. It was, it was the followup to Woodstock: Drugs, alcohol, increasing violence. They were a generation lost in space. Remember, the space race was also going on. There was nowhere left to go. Their momentum was fading and the decade was gone. And so was America. Then the rolling stones who had pushed the counterculture envelope with the last couple of albums took the stage as McLean alludes to with, “Come on, Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack sat on the candlestick,” that is the Jumpin’ Jack Flash song by the Rolling Stones. And he’s referring here to Mick Jagger was the Devil who refuses to end the Altamont concert despite the violence and the loss of crowd. Even, even the Grateful Dead said this is crazy.”

“’No angel born in hell could break that Satan spell.’ The Hells Angels were hired for security. They couldn’t stop the chaos. In fact, they added to it. And Jagger, Satan in the song, continued to hold the audience in his spell.”

“A gun wielding man in the crowd heads for the stage but Hells Angels intercept him and they stab him to death. That’s what happened at Altamont. They stab him to death. The sacrificial rite. Shortly before the stabbing, right before this guy starts going on a rampage, the Stones had performed ‘Sympathy For the Devil’.”

“Could it get any creepier than this? Don McLean was not just writing about this event but the demise of an era. The erosion of your culture. The erosion of our values. Altamont was the final blow to bring about the day the music died.”

Glenn took a break and then returned to discuss the song further.

“We’re just looking at some of the old interviews with Don McLean because he never talks about this song anymore. But at the time he said that he was obsessed with what he called the death of America and so many things. The loss of so many things that he grew up with.”

“ (McLean) said in a sense ‘American Pie’ was a despairing song. In another way it was hopeful. He said Pete Seeger told me that he saw it as a song in which people were saying something, that they had been fooled, they had been hurt and they weren’t going to let it happen again. He said that’s a good way to look at it, a hopeful way. Unfortunately Pete Seeger was a communist and I mean, that’s the way that’s why this happens again.”

“It happened with Mao and it won’t happen this way again. It happened at Altamont but it won’t happen like that again. I mean, it’s the same story over and over and over again.”

“The good news is, is that there was at least somebody that was in this culture at that time that was mourning the loss of America then and we didn’t lose America then. We’re still going. We might despair now and say, ‘Jeez, we’re going to lose America’. That’s not necessarily true unless we allow it.”*

by Glenn Beck
February 9, 2012

* * * * * * * * * * * * *




Concluding Remarks
"Baking New Smorgasbords for the 21st Century"
Part 2

by R.E. Slater
February 14, 2012

*Contrary to Glenn Beck's final statements, it is not that "we're mourning the loss of America in the political sense of our conservative cultural heritage, but that America's philosophic landscape of constructive social optimism had changed from the 1960s era of despair having become earmarked by what we are now understanding to be the early beginnings of postmodernism in America. And rather than looking upon this newer postmodernistic era with dread and dismay, it is the position of Relevancy22's blog/journal here that with modernism's anarchical death has come a lot of good, constructive things.

True, postmodernism has been built upon modernism's deconstruction as well as the death of its more popular epistemologies of unhindered hope and the American dream. But postmodernism has also created a reconstructive epistemology of hope and a future global dream of cooperation and international social justice. Rather than dreading the passing of America we should be hopeful in a global future that places America - with the world at large! - at the center of a radical epistemological change that can be beneficial, realistic, and positive. A most curious and ironic development that one wouldn't expect with the death of American modernism... but a most necessary one because of the strong human spirit found in the image of God who is relational, loving, just, and ordering.

Sometimes to get from "here-to-there" humanity has to reapprise its historical past and simply say, "Hey, we've been doing this wrong, and need to change from here." The eras from WW2 through to the Vietnam War era focused on subjugated nationalistic tyrannies and oppressions, lost humanitarian rights, freedoms and citizenry exploitations, which certainly added to America's resultant fears of encroaching communism. It was the time of McCarthyism...

Mc·Car·thy·ism [muh-kahr-thee-iz-uhm] noun

1. The practice of making accusations of disloyalty, especially of pro-Communist activity, in many instances unsupported by proof or based on slight, doubtful, or irrelevant evidence.

2. The practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigative techniques, especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism.

... and the Cold War era as America, and the Western world-at-large, attempted to balance their fears through war, excluding nationalistic boundaries, and philosophical isolationisms. However, as necessary as these actions seemed to be, they would never be enough, because fear can never bring about positive, unifying change. It can only bring about greater disillusionment and disintegration which we see in the aftermath of postmodernism. So that by the start of the 21st Century (and building upon our national lessons of the past 20th Century) we now have curiously begun the task of ordering a new world of idealisms and international cooperation within our contemporary postmodernistic societies (sic, Aldus Huxley's Brave New World as opposed to George Orwell's 1984 as countering arguments to the same system of death that they saw with the era of Modernism).

A society that includes the world, along with the separate interests and demands of each participating nation, creating a semblance of cooperation and goodwill towards one another. Whether this can be done or not will be left to history. In a sense I believe it can be, but in another sense I tend to doubt its factuality. On the one hand sin, death and an anti-God (or an a/God) worldly system stands opposed to such restorative efforts. On the other hand, Christianized systematic thinking like process theology in its broadest, most liberal understanding, gives me pause to believe that it can happen. However, as a liberal system it too is based upon an unredeemed human spirit latent with worldly aspirations and selfish dominion so that in the end, I still see little hope for complete restitution based merely upon the image of God, and not on the renewal of the image of God brought about by Jesus' transformative and atoning death and resurrection.

However, I do pray that even in the liberal spirit of humanitarianism, societies may learn to inter-cooperate with one another, and provide the basic human freedoms and liberties that can be beneficial and lasting. And generally for a world peace that can grow in a truly new paradigm in the sociological, evolutionary sense of development, unknown since the formation of human society eons ago. However, without our dependency upon our Creator God, and committal to the idea of redemption through repentance and renewal in Christ, I don't believe this can ever be done as fully as it could be. To do this will take a Savior ruling and reigning in the midst of mankind. Such a One as is promised in the Bible known as Immanuel, God with Us, the crucified and risen Messiah, to whom all nations will one day bow knees and heads and hearts to give thanksgiving and homage to. But until that day when Jesus returns in His Parousia to rule and to reign I suspect that this societal endeavor will never be transformative enough to prevent sin's corruption and destruction of all things good.

Still, we must try. Humanity is worth fighting for. Sin is worth standing against. Evil is not a choice we can allow through inaction and despair. Corruption must be opposed. And legalisms - any legalisms! however beneficially legislated - are no substitute for a heart, or a spirit, of goodwill and love based upon God's empowerment and enlightenment. Until Christ returns the church and its remnant body of repentants/remonstrants must proceed on bended knees of prayer; active hands and feet of good works; and obedient, cross-struck hearts of peace; speaking and acting in one accord building as unto the temple of God made without human hands. Not building a renewed tower of Babel to the spirit of human pride and ego (an ancient ziggurat that God caused ancient mankind to abandon through the striking of a perplexing plurality of tongues = actual human languages unexperienced up-until-then). But the building of a heavenly body of faithful followers of Christ committed not to our selves, nor to the corruptions of our sinful hearts, nor to any one nationalized ideology, but to the sacrificial Cross of Christ where was slain the eternal Lamb of God. Who is the Hope of the world upon some future Day of Visitation when the Lion of God will return as King of David and the bright Morning Star of revelation and rebirth.

And until that day comes we must continue to seek God with all of our hearts. To seek His favor. And to learn not to lean upon our own understanding, pride and ego. Nor the works of our hands. Nor the pride of our accomplishments. Nor to be content with a false, disingenuous peace. But to follow Jesus as seen in Peter's passages of a "Suffering Servant and Arisen King" - whose path of suffering is also the path chosen for His body and bride, the Church. Suffering and death will be our daily companions. But so too can Life be present when God is in the mix. Let us then be hopeful and not despairing. Though the America of the 50s has died it can live again as the dream of every nation seeking peace, prosperity, and liberty with one another. But it took the death of humanism and modernism to get us there. And I suspect postmodernism can be but the intervening vehicle to a more Authentising, or a more Participatory, Age of societal reconciliation, unto a golden age of the renewal among mankind. This is not an age to despair of, but to find hope within.... And yet, mankind's best and truest hope will ever-and-always be in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. To that end let us work as God has gifted us until that shinning day of Jesus' return in the clouds of the air, upon a trump's resound, to the lifting of all human hearts, the bowing of all knees, and the end of sin, death and devil. Amen.

R.E. Slater
February 14, 2012




Genesis 11
English Standard Version (ESV)

The Tower of Babel

1 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech.” 8 So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused[a] the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

1 Peter 4

Suffering as a Christian

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory[b] and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18And “If the righteous is scarcely saved,    what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”[c]

19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.









 * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Don McLean - American Pie [better quality]




Don Mclean - The Real Meaning of American Pie




Don McLean - The meaning of American Pie (UPDATE)




Madonna American Pie


Madonna's 1980s Interpretation of American Pie


 

American Pie Lyrics

A long long time ago
I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they'd be happy for a while
But February made me shiver
With every paper I'd deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn't take one more step
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.

So bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die.

Did you write the book of love
And do you have faith in God above
If the Bible tells you so?
Now do you believe in rock and roll?
Can music save your mortal soul?
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?
Well, I know that you're in love with him
'cause I saw you dancing in the gym
You both kicked off your shoes
Man, I dig those rhythm and blues
I was a lonely teenage broncin' buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the music died
I started singing.

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die.

Now, for ten years we've been on our own
And moss grows fat on a rolling stone
But that's not how it used to be
When the Jester sang for the king and queen
In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
And a voice that came from you and me
Oh and while the king was looking down
The Jester stole his thorny crown
The courtroom was adjourned
No verdict was returned
And while Lenin read a book on Marx
The quartet practiced in the park
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died
We were singing.

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die.

Helter skelter in a summer swelter
The birds flew off with a fallout shelter
Eight miles high and falling fast
Landed foul on the grass
The players tried for a forward pass
With the Jester on the sidelines in a cast
Now the half-time air was sweet perfume
While sergeants played a marching tune
We all got up to dance
Oh, but we never got the chance
'Cause the players tried to take the field
The marching band refused to yield
Do you recall what was revealed
The day the music died?
We started singing.

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die.

Oh, and there we were all in one place
A generation lost in space
With no time left to start again
So come on Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Jack Flash sat on a candlestick
'Cause fire is the devil's only friend
And as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage
No angel born in hell
Could break that Satan's spell
And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The day the music died
He was singing.

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die.

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away
I went down to the sacred store
Where I'd heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn't play
And in the streets the children screamed
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken
And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died
And they were singing.

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die
they were singing.

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing this'll be the day that I die.


* * * * * * * * * * * * *


Wikipedia - Don McLean

McLean's magnum opus, "American Pie", is a sprawling, impressionistic ballad inspired partly by the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J. P. Richardson (The Big Bopper) in a plane crash on 3 February 1959. The song popularized the expression "The Day the Music Died" in reference to this event, although it might have given music the chance to go on living at a time when it was dangerously ill. WCFL DJ Bob Dearborn unraveled the lyrics and first published his interpretation on 7 January 1972, eight days before the song reached #1 nationally (see "Further reading" under American Pie). Numerous other interpretations, which together largely converged on Dearborn's interpretation, quickly followed. McLean declined to say anything definitive about the lyrics until 1978. Since then McLean has stated that the lyrics are also somewhat autobiographical and present an abstract story of his life from the mid-1950s until the time he wrote the song in the late 1960s.[2]

The song was recorded on 26 May 1971 and a month later received its first radio airplay on New York’s WNEW-FM and WPLJ-FM to mark the closing of The Fillmore East, a famous New York concert hall. "American Pie" reached number one on the U.S. Billboard magazine charts for four weeks in 1972, and remains McLean's most successful single release. The single also topped the Billboard Easy Listening survey. With a running time of 8:36, it is also the longest song to reach No. 1. Some stations played only part one of the original split-sided single release.

In 2010, John Ondrasik - the singer-songwriter known as Five for Fighting - released the single "Slice" from the album of the same name. The song is a tribute to "American Pie", a nostalgic look at how it once captivated people's collective ears, minds and voices, and an expression of hope that our increasing individuality hasn't dulled our ability to 'sing the same song'.[citation needed]

In 2001 "American Pie" was voted No. 5 in a poll of the 365 Songs of the Century compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. The top five were: "Over the Rainbow" written by Harold Arlen and E.Y. "Yip" Harburg (performed by Judy Garland in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz), "White Christmas" written by Irving Berlin (best-known performance by Bing Crosby), "This Land Is Your Land" written and performed by Woody Guthrie, "Respect" written by Otis Redding (best-known performance by Aretha Franklin), and "American Pie."

Wikipedia - Background

Don McLean wrote the song in Cold Spring, New York and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[1][2] The song made its debut at Temple University when he was opening for Laura Nyro.[1][3] The song is well known for its cryptic lyrics that have long been the subject of curiosity and speculation. Although McLean dedicated the American Pie album to Buddy Holly, none of the musicians in the plane crash is identified by name in the song itself. When asked what "American Pie" meant, McLean replied, "It means I never have to work again."[4] Later, he more seriously stated, "You will find many interpretations of my lyrics but none of them by me.... Sorry to leave you all on your own like this but long ago I realized that songwriters should make their statements and move on, maintaining a dignified silence."[5]

McLean has generally avoided responding to direct questions about the song lyrics ("They’re beyond analysis. They’re poetry.")[6] except to acknowledge that he did first learn about Buddy Holly's death while folding newspapers for his paper route on the morning of February 3, 1959, (the line "February made me shiver/with every paper I'd deliver"). He also stated in an editorial published on the 50th anniversary of the crash in 2009 that writing the first verse of the song exorcised his long-running grief over Holly's death.[7]

The third verse begins "Now for ten years we've been on our own".[8] According to one interpretation[9] much of the rest of the song refers to events of the 1960s, particularly illustrating how once unified, peaceful, and idealistic youth movements began to split apart, how the death of US President John F. Kennedy (JFK) was used as the symbolic "loss of innocence" for 1960s youth,[10] leading up to the Altamont Free Concert, a symbolic end of 1960s youth movements.[11]

The concert at Altamont took place in December 1969, the same year in which the third verse in "American Pie" opens. Lines from "American Pie", particularly in the fifth verse, may refer to this event.[12][13][14][15][16] Altamont was supposed to be a second Woodstock Festival; but instead was characterized by drugs and violence (reference the death of 18-year-old Meredith Hunter[17]). Sociologist Todd Gitlin says of Altamont, "Who could any longer harbor the illusion that these hundreds of thousands of spoiled star-hungry children of the Lonely Crowd were the harbingers of a good society?"[11][18] Given the year the song was released, the date suggested in the third verse, and the themes of loss of innocence that exist throughout the song, embodied by Holly's death,[19] it is not unlikely that American Pie was inspired by the events at Altamont, although McLean has never indicated so.

Many American rock radio stations have released printed interpretations and some devoted entire shows to discussing and debating the song's lyrics, resulting in both controversy and intense listener interest in the song. Some examples are the real-world identities of the "Jester", "King and Queen", "Satan", "Girl Who Sang the Blues", and other characters referenced in the verses. Also Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly, and The Big Bopper could be referred to as "The Father, Son, and The Holy Ghost." These three figures could also represent John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr. or the three remaining Crickets, Buddy Holly's group.[20]

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Another Interpretation of "American Pie"

by P. O'Brien
originally published July 10, 1993
revised March 3, 1999


The Analysis and Interpretation of Don McLean's Song Lyrics

Page One - Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, The Big Bopper, and the day the music died.

The following pages offer the most detailed explanation of the song, the lyrics, to American Pie that you will find anywhere. Some of the information is fact, some is rumor; we only serve to entertain by providing the information in its entirety. Enjoy it and let us know if you have other ideas!

American Pie is rumored to be based on the name of the plane (A Beechcraft Bonanza, Number N3794P) in which Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens were killed. It is said that the song is a tribute to Buddy Holly and commentary on howrock and roll has changed in the years since his death. Ironically, according to McLean, the song is not about Buddy Holly but was dedicated to him. The following will provide a unique look at the meaning of the lyrics Don McLean wrote over 20 years ago. Some of the interpretations are accurate, some are outlandish. Some say, this song is a history of Rock n' Roll.


Page Two - A long, long time ago...

"American Pie" reached #1 in 1972, shortly after it was released. Buddy Holly ; unfortunately, died in 1959. I can still remember how That music used to make me smile. And I knew if I had my chance, That I could make those people dance, And maybe they'd be happy for a while.
    Sociologists credit teenagers with the popularity of Rock and Roll, as a part of the Baby boomer generation, they found themselves in a very influencial position. Their shear number were the force behind most of our country's recent major transitions. McLean was a teenager in 1959 and he begins by simply commenting that the music had an appealing quality to him as well as the millions of other teens. McLean also had an intense desire to entertain as a musician. His dream, to play in a band at high school dances, was the dream of many young boys who wanted to make people dance to Rock and Roll.
But February made me shiver,
    Buddy Holly died on February 3, 1959, in a plane crash in Iowa during a snowstorm. Its rumored that the name of the plane was: American Pie.
With every paper I'd deliver,
    Don McLean's only job besides being a full-time singer/song writer was being a paperboy.
Bad news on the doorstep... I couldn't take one more step. I can't remember if I cried When I read about his widowed bride
    Holly's recent bride was pregnant when the crash took place; she had a miscarriage shortly afterward.
But something touched me deep inside, The day the music died.
    The same plane crash that killed Buddy Holly also tragically took the lives of Richie Valens ("La Bamba") and The Big Bopper ("Chantilly Lace.") Since all three were so prominent at the time, February 3, 1959, became known as "The Day The Music Died."
So...
(Refrain) Bye bye Miss American Pie,
    **Don McLean dated a Miss America candidate during a pageant and broke up with her on February 3, 1959. (Unconfirmed interpretation)
    So its probably...
    Just a reference to the plane, "American Pie" that crahed.
I drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry, Them good ol' boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye Singing "This'll be the day that I die, This'll be the day that I die."
    Driving the Chevy to the levee almost certainly refers to the three college students whose murder was the subject of the film 'Mississippi Burning.' The students were attempting to register as black voters, and after being killed by bigoted thugs their bodies were buried in a levee. Them good ol' boys being: Holly, Valens, and the Big Bopper, They were singing about their death on February 3. One of Holly's hits was "That'll be the Day"; the chorus contains the line "That'll be the day that I die."
(Verse 2) Did you write the book of love,
    "The Book of Love" by the Monotones; hit in 1958."Oh I wonder, wonder who... who, who wrote the book of love?"
And do you have faith in God above, If the Bible tells you so?
    **In 1955, Don Cornell did a song entitled "The Bible Tells Me So." It was difficult to tell if it was what McLean was referencing. Anyone know for sure? There is also an old Sunday School song that goes:"Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so" McLean was somewhat religious.
Now do you believe in rock 'n roll?
    The Lovin' Spoonful had a hit in 1965 with John Sebastian's "Do you Believe in Magic?". The song has the lines: "Do you believe in magic" and "It's like trying to tell a stranger 'bout rock and roll."
Can music save your mortal soul? And can you teach me how to dance real slow?
    Music was believed to "save the soul" and slow dancing was an important part of early rock and roll dance events. Dancing declined in importance through the 60's as things like psychedelia and the 10-minute guitar solo gained prominence. McLean was asking many questions about the early rock 'n roll in an attempt to keep it alive or find out if it was already dead.
Well I know that you're in love with him 'Cause I saw you dancing in the gym
    Back then, dancing was an expression of love,and carried a connotation of commitment. Dance partners were not so readily exchanged as they would be later.
You both kicked off your shoes
    A reference to the beloved "sock hop." (Street shoes tear up wooden basketball floors, so dancers had to take off their shoes.)
Man, I dig those rhythm 'n' blues
    Before the popularity of rock and roll, music, like much elsewhere in the U. S., was highly segregated. The popular music of black performers for largely black audiences was called, first "race music," later softened to rhythm and blues. In the early 50s, as they were exposed to it through radio personalities such as Allan Freed, white teenagers began listening, too. Starting around 1954, a number of songs from the rhythm and blues charts began appearing on the overall popular charts as well, but usually in cover versions by established white artists, (e.g."Shake Rattle and Roll," Joe Turner, covered by Bill Haley; "Sh-Boom, "the Chords, covered by the Crew-Cuts; "Sincerely," the Moonglows, covered by the McGuire Sisters; Tweedle Dee, LaVerne Baker, covered by Georgia Gibbs). By 1955, some of the rhythm and blues artists, like Fats Domino and Little Richard were able to get records on the overall pop charts.In 1956 Sun records added elements of country and western to produce the kind of rock and roll tradition that produced Buddy Holly.
I was a lonely teenage broncin' buck With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
    "A White Sport Coat (And a Pink Carnation), "was a hit for Marty Robbins in 1957. The pickup truck has endured as a symbol of sexual independence and potency, especially in a Texas context.(Also, Jimmy Buffet does a song about "a white sport coat and a pink crustacean.":-) )
But I knew that I was out of luck The day the music died I started singing...
Refrain
(Verse 3) Now for ten years we've been on our own
    McLean was writing this song in the late 60's,about ten years after the crash.
And moss grows fat on a rolling stone
    It's unclear who the "rolling stone" is supposed to be. It could be Dylan, since "Like a Rolling Stone" (1965) was his first major hit; and since he was busy writing songs ex-tolling the virtues of simple love, family and contentment while staying at home (he didn't tour from '66 to '74) and raking in the royalties. This was quite a change from the earlier, angrier Dylan. The "rolling stone" could also be Elvis Presley, although I don't think he started to pork out by the late sixties. he-he! It could refer to rock and rollers, and the changes that had taken place in the business in the 60's, especially the huge amounts of cash some of them were beginning to make, and the relative stagnation that entered the music at the same time. Or, it could refer to the Rolling Stones themselves, many musicians were angry at the Stones for "selling out." I discovered that John Foxx of Ultravox was sufficiently miffed to write a song titled "Life At Rainbow's End (For All The Tax Exiles On Main Street)." The Stone sat one point became citizens of some other country merely to save taxes.
But that's not how it used to be When the jester sang for the King and Queen
    The jester is Bob Dylan, as will become clear later. There are several interpretations of king and queen: some think that Elvis Presley is the king, which seems rather obvious. The queen is said to be either Connie Francis or Little Richard. See the next note. An alternate interpretation is that this refers to the Kennedys -- the King and Queen of "Camelot" -- who were present at a Washington DC civil rights rally featuring Martin Luther King. (There'sa recording of Dylan performing at this rally. The Jester.) The third interpretation is that the jester could be Lee Harvey Oswald who sang (shouted) before he was shot for the murder of the King (JFK).
In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
    In the movie "Rebel Without a Cause," James Dean has a red windbreaker that holds symbolic meaning throughout the film (see note at end). In one particularly intense scene, Dean lends his coat to a guy who is shot and killed; Dean's father arrives, sees the coat on the dead man, thinks it's Dean, and loses it. On the cover of "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan," Dylan is wearing just such a red windbreaker, posed in a street scene similar to movie starring James Dean. Bob Dylan played a command performance for the Queen of England. He was *not* properly attired, so perhaps this is a reference to his apparel.
And a voice that came from you and me
    Bob Dylan's roots are in American folk music,with people like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. Folk music is by definition the music of the masses, hence the "...came from you and me."
Oh, and while the King was looking down The jester stole his thorny crown
    Likely a reference to Elvis' decline and Dylan's ascendance (i.e. Presley is looking down from a height as Dylan takes his place). Consider that Elvis was is the army at the time of Dylan's ascendancy and a common Army marching song sings, "Ain't no use in looking down, ain't no discharge on the ground". The thorny crown might be a reference to the price of fame. Dylan has said that he wanted to be as famous as Elvis, one of his early idols.
    or...
    Lee Harvey Oswald being the jester who ended the reign of JFK and "stole his crown."
    or...
    A third interpretation is the quote made by John Lennon and taken out of context indicating that John felt The Beatles were more popular then Jesus. John and The Beatles took the crown from Christ.
The courtroom was adjourned, No verdict was returned.
    This could be the trial of the Chicago Seven.
    but its more likely to be...
    The fact that no verdict was returned for the assassination of JFK because the assassin was killed so the court was adjourned.
And while Lennon read a book on Marx,
Or it could be be...
And while Lenin rean a book on Marx,
    Someone has to introduce Vladamir Lenin, the father of Marxist communism, to the idealogy of Karl Marx.
    I love the play on words here...
    Literally, John Lennon reading about Karl Marx; figuratively, the introduction of radical politics into the music of The Beatles. (Of course, he could be referring to Groucho Marx, but that doesn't seem quite consistent with McLean's overall tone. On the other hand, some of the wordplay in Lennon's lyrics and books is reminiscent of Groucho.)The "Marx-Lennon" word play has also been used by others, most notably the Firesign Theatre on the cover of their album "How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere At All?" The Beatles "Here, There and Everywhere," for example. Also, a famous French witticism was "Je suis Marxiste, tendance Groucho. " (I'm a Marxist of the Groucho variety).
The quartet practiced in the park
    There are two schools of thought about this; the obvious one is The Beatles playing in Shea Stadium, but note that the previous line has John Lennon *doing something else at the same time*. This tends to support the theory that this is a reference to the Weavers, who were blacklisted during the McCarthy era. McLean had become friends with Lee Hays of the Weavers in the early 60's while performing in coffeehouses and clubs in upstate New York and New York City. He was also well acquainted with Pete Seeger; McLean, Seeger, and others took a trip on the Hudson river singing anti-pollution songs at one point. Seeger's LP "God Bless the Grass" contains many of these songs.
And we sang dirges in the dark
    A "dirge" is a funeral or mourning song, so perhaps this is meant literally...or, perhaps, this is a reference to some of the new "art rock" groups that played long pieces not meant for dancing. In the dark of the death of Holly.
The day the music died. We were singing...
Refrain
(Verse 4) Helter Skelter in a summer swelter
    "Helter Skelter" is a Beatles song that appears on the "White" album. Charles Manson, claiming to have been "inspired"by the song (through which he thought God and/or the devil were taking to him) led his followers in the Tate-LaBianca murders. Is "summer swelter" a reference to the "Summer of Love" or perhaps to the "long hot summer" of Watts?
The birds flew off with the fallout shelter Eight miles high and falling fast
    Without a doubt this refers to the Byrds who helped launch David Crosby to super stardom. The Byrd's song "Eight Miles High" was found on their late 1966 release "Fifth Dimension." They recorded this song when some of the groups members were considering leaving (some of the groups members actually left the group because they refused to flyin an airplane). A fallout shelter was sometimes referred to as the fifth dimension because of the 1950's fascination with sci-fi and the futuristic appearance of a fallout shelter. This was one of the first records widely banned because of supposedly drug-oriented lyrics.
    But...
    Another idea considers The Beatles' "Helter Skelter."A line from the song reads, 'I'm coming down fast but I'm miles above you.' The similarity is pretty obvious.
It landed foul on the grass
    One of the Byrds was busted for possession of marijuana.
The players tried for a forward pass
    Obviously a football metaphor, but about what?It could be the Rolling Stones, i.e., they were waiting for an opening that really didn't happen until The Beatles broke up. With regard to the next idea, the players maybe other musicians who received the opportunity to shine when Dylan was injured.
With the jester on the sidelines in a cast
    On July 29, 1966, Dylan crashed his Triumph 55 motorcycle while riding near his home in Woodstock, New York. He spent nine months in seclusion while recuperating from the accident. This gave a chance for many other artists to become noticed (see the next interpretation).
Now the half-time air was sweet perfume
    Drugs, man. Well, now, wait a minute; that's probably too obvious (wouldn't want to make it easy). It's possible that this line and the next few refer to the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The "sweet perfume" is probably tear gas. It could be the fact the since Dylan was temporarily out of the picture, the future looked bright for many artists. The Stones, for example, may have been given a brief chance.
While sergeants played a marching tune
    Following from the second thought above, the sergeants would be the Chicago Police and the Illinois National Guard, who marched protesters out of the park where the Convention was being held and into jail. Alternatively, this could refer to The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Or, perhaps McLean refers to The Beatles' music as "marching" because it's not music for dancing. Or, finally, the "marching tune" could be the draft. **(What did the Stones release in '66??)
We all got up to dance Oh, but we never got the chance
    The Beatles' 1966 Candlestick Park concert only lasted 35 minutes. But at this point The Beatles were not "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (1967) Or, following on from the previous comment, perhaps she was considering the hippies who were protesting the Convention. They were known for playing their own folk music.
'Cause the players tried to take the field, The marching band refused to yield.
    Some folks think this refers to either the 1968 Democratic Convention or Kent State. If the players are the protesters at Kent State, and the marching band the Ohio National Guard... This could be a reference to the dominance of The Beatles on the rock and roll scene. For instance, the Beach Boys released "Pet Sounds" in 1966 -- an album that featured some of the same sort of studio and electronic experimentation as "Sgt. Pepper" (1967). The album sold poorly because of The Beatles. The other Beatles reference here refers to the Monkees. The Monkees were merely actors (or players), they were not a true band but a fabrication attempting to replicate The Beatles. The players tried to take the place of the Fab Four but the band wouldn't step down. Or finally, this might be a comment that follows up on the earlier reference to the draft: the government/military industrial-complex establishment refused to accede to the demands of the peace movement.
    Some people think this is a reference to the US space program, which it might be (the first moon landing took place in '69); but that seems a bit too literal. Perhaps this is a reference to hippies, who were sometimes known as the "lost generation," partially because of their particularly acute alienation from their parents, and partially because of their presumed preoccupation with drugs (which was referred to as being "spaced-out.") Being on drugs was sometimes termed -- being lost in space because of the TV show, "Lost in Space," whose title was usedas a synonym for someone who was rather high... I keep hoping that McLean had better taste. :-)
With no time left to start again
    The "lost generation" spent too much time being stoned, and had wasted their lives. Or, perhaps, their preferences for psychedelia had pushed rock and roll so far from Holly's music that it couldn't be retrieved.
So come on Jack be nimble Jack be quick
    Probably a reference to Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones; "Jumpin' Jack Flash" was released in May 1968.
Jack Flash sat on a candlestick
    **The Stones' Candlestick park concert? (unconfirmed) Jack Flash is also a cockney slang term for pharmaceutical heroin. If you know how to use heroin, you understand the reference.
'Cause fire is the devil's only friend
    It's possible that this is a reference to the Grateful Dead's "Friend of the Devil." An alternate interpretation of the last four lines is that they may refer to Jack Kennedy and his quick decisions during the Cuban Missile Crisis; the candlesticks/fire refer to ICBMs and nuclear war.
And as I watched him on the stage, my hands were clenched in fists of rage; No angel born in hell, could break that Satan's spell
    While playing a concert at the Altamont Speedway in 1968, the Stones appointed members of the Hell's Angels to work security (on the advice of the Grateful Dead). In the darkness near the front of the stage, a young man named Meredith Hunter was beaten and stabbed to death -- by the Angels. Public outcry that the song "Sympathy for the Devil"(because of "satan's spell") had somehow incited the violence and caused the Stones to drop the song from their show for the next six years. This incident is chronicled in the documentary film "Gimme Shelter." It's also possible that McLean views the Stones as being negatively inspired (he had an extensive religious background)because of "Sympathy for the Devil," "Their Satanic Majesties' Request"and so on. This is a bit puzzling, since the early Stones recorded a lot of "roots" rock and roll, including Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away."
And as the flames climbed high into the night, To light the sacrificial rite
    The most likely interpretation is that McLean is still talking about Altamont, and in particular Mick Jagger's prancing and posing and "climbing high" while it was happening. Or the bonfires around the area could provide the flames. The sacrifice is Meredith Hunter. (It could be a reference to Jimi Hendrix burning his Stratocaster at the Monterey Pop Festival, but that was in 1967 and this verse is no doubt set in 1968.)
I saw Satan laughing with delight
    If the above is correct, then Satan would be Jagger.
The day the music died He was singing...
Refrain
(Verse 6) I met a girl who sang the blues
    Ms. Janis Joplin, the lady of the blues.
And I asked her for some happy news But she just smiled and turned away
    Janis died of an accidental (accidental my ass!)heroin overdose on October 4, 1970.
    Or...
    The girl might be Roberta Flack. Its rumored that she wrote, "Killing Me Softly (with his song)," in response to this lyric in his song.

I went down to the sacred store Where I'd heard the music years before
    There are two interpretations of this: The "sacred store" was Bill Graham's Fillmore West, one of the great rock and roll venues of all time. Alternatively, this refers to record stores, and their long time (then discontinued) practice of allowing customers to preview records in the store. (What year did the Fillmore West close?) It could also refer to record stores as "sacred" because this is where one goes to get "saved." (See above lyric "Can music save your mortal soul?")
But the man there said the music wouldn't play
    Perhaps he means that nobody is interested in hearing Buddy Holly et. al.'s music? Or, as above, the discontinuation of the in-store listening booths.
And in the streets the children screamed
    "Flower children" being beaten by police and National Guard troops; in particular, perhaps, the People's Park riots in Berkeley in 1969 and 1970. It is possible that this refers to the Vietnamese children. Life magazine was famous for publishing horrifying photos of children in Vietnam during the Vietnamese War.
The lovers cried and the poets dreamed
    The trend toward psychedelic music in the 60's?Or again the hippies who were both great lovers and poets who would then be crying because of the difficulties of their struggle and dreaming of peace.
But not a word was spoken The church bells all were broken
    It could be that the broken bells are the dead musicians: neither can produce any more music.
And the three men I admire most The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
    Holly, The Big Bopper, and Valens -- or -- **Hank Williams, Presley, and Holly (check this) --or -- JFK, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy -- or -- or simply the Catholic aspects of the deity. McLean had attended several Catholic schools.
They caught the last train for the coast
    Could be a reference to wacky California religions, or it could just be a way of saying that they've left (or died -- western culture has used "went west" as a synonym for dying). Or, perhaps this is a reference to the famous "God is Dead" headline in the New York Times. Some have suggested that this is an oblique reference to a line in Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade of Pale," but I'm not sure I'd buy that; firstly, all of McLean's musical references are to much older roots: rock and roll songs; and secondly, I think it's more likely that this line shows up in both songs simply because it's a common cultural metaphor.
The day the music died
    This tends to support the conjecture that the"three men" were Holly/Bopper/Valens, since this says that they left us on the day the music died.
And they were singing...
Refrain (2x)


Page Three (Additional Thoughts) - Comments: James Dean, Waylon Jennings, The Beatles, and Bob Dylam

There were supposed to be four people on the plane. There was only room for three. The fourth person lost the coin toss -- or should I say won the toss. His name is Waylon Jennings. Jennings was the bass player for Holly's band at the time. Some people say that Holly had chartered the plane for his band, but that Valens and/or Richardson was to replace Jennings who was sick that night.

About the "coat he borrowed from James Dean": James Dean's red windbreaker is important throughout the "Rebel Without a Cause," not just at the end. When he put it on, it meant that it was time to face the world, time to do what he thought had to be done, and other melodramatic but thoroughly enjoyable stuff like that. The week after the movie came out, nearly every clothing store in the U.S. was sold out of red windbreakers. Remember that Dean's impact was similar to Dylan's: both were a symbol for the youth of their time, a reminder that they had something to say and demanded to be heard.

Some figure that if Holly had not have died, then we would not have suffered through the Fabian/Pat Boone era... and consequently, we wouldn't have "needed" the Beatles (I have strong arguments opposing that opinion). Holly was quickly moving pop music away from the stereotypical boy/girl love lost/found lyrical ideas, and was recording with unique instrumentation and techniques...things that Beatles would not try until about 1965 (although I still credit the Beatles with all the musical revolutions). Without Holly's death, perhaps Dylan would have stuck with the rock and roll he played in high school and the Byrds never would have created an amalgam of Dylan songs and Beatle arrangements.

by P. O'Brien
Comments and ideas??
Send them to: octopus@rareexception.com
Published -- 07/10/93
Revised -- 3/3/99