The original Miss American Pie

How Don McLean mourned the passing of an era in American life.


Asked what his 1971 single American Pie actually meant, Don McLean used to answer, famously: "It means I don't ever have to work again if I don't want to." Lately he's been more explicit: the 69-year-old singer sold the original lyrics at auction the other day for $1.2m and the 18 pages of scribblings that go with the lyrics are full of clues, since confirmed: the jester on the sidelines is Bob Dylan, while Elvis is the king with the thorny crown. But who actually was the original Miss American Pie?

The answer, McLean told The Daily Telegraph this week, is Don Draper's wife. "I had the idea of the prom girl. If you've seen the show Mad Men, that Betty Draper perfection: she's got the hair done, the clothes are always immaculate, she knows all the rules of the social role, that kind of girl. All of a sudden it was bye' to a lot of things that had happened before." The song, in other words, mourns the passing of an era in American life.

So why did he choose to sell the box containing the song's lyrics now, after all these years? He's getting older, he says, and "nobody in my family has any kind of instinct for making money. They're good at spending it! When I go, I thought, they'll probably just throw the box out!" So, instead, he's made a little more money out of the song, which, he admits, changed his life. Good for him.

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Ethically sourced hatred for £19.99

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