American Pie is quite a complex song, eluding to several prominent musical events.
For a more detailed treatment, see The Day the Music Died.
On February 3, 1959, the plane carrying musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper went down near Clear Lake, Iowa.
For a more detailed treatment, see Altamont Free Concert.
Parts of the song are seen as a euphemism for the violence that occurred at Altamont, and the results of the New Left. Verse four of the song contains many references, such as "A generation lost in space"(kids high on drugs), a reference to the Rolling Stones song Jumping Jack Flash, "No angel born in hell" (The Hell's Angels biker gang provided security at the concert) and "Satan's Spell"(Mick Jagger was inciting the crowd).
The final lyrics of verse four "I saw Satan laughing with delight, The day the music died" again reference Jagger inciting the crowd, but also reference the innocence lost at the event.
- What do American Pie's lyrics mean?, BBC
- The Day the Music Died, American Spectator
- "American Pie" explained by Glenn Beck: What does "The Day the music died" mean?, Glenn Beck
- Understanding American Pie: Altamont