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American Pie by Don McLean

Verse 2

Did you write the Book of Love
And do you have faith in God above
If the Bible tells you so
Do you believe in rock n' 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 dancin' in the gym
You both kicked off your shoes
Man, I dig those rhythm & 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 singin'

{Refrain}

The Monotones'The Book of Love,' was a hit for The Monotones in 1958. The song asked: "Oh, who wrote the Book Of Love?"
Don Cornell
The music was also beginning to become the 'religion of the youth,' with many preachers speaking out against it. Don Cornell did a song in 1955 called 'The Bible Tells Me So. This contains the lyrics "How do I know, the Bible tells me so." There is also a religious song with the lyrics 'Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.' McLean was known to be religious. Some people thought that music could 'save your soul.' The roots of rock were based in the church with a lot of the early musicians starting off there. Elvis had an album of hymns and Holly had been a choir boy.

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 it's like trying to tell a stranger 'bout rock and roll." This seems to fit with Don's line of "Do you believe in rock & roll?" (Ref: internet) Somewhat ironically, in the 1999 hit movie American Pie, two of the main characters in the choir sing this song in a singing competition!

The line "Can music save your mortal soul" seems to reinforce the idea of 50s rock music being a metaphor for religion. (Ref: Robert Emery)

In the early part of rock & roll, slow dancing was very important. This declined later in the 60s as drugs and guitar solos became more prominent. Dancing was seen as a way of showing love for one another, and dance partners were not changed as easily as they are now. Dancers had to take off their shoes, as they would tear up the basketball court floor. This was known as the 'sock hop.' R & B had been purely for black audiences, originally known as 'race music,' it developed into Rhythm & Blues. White teenagers started to listen to it, and it became more acceptable in the music charts.
Marty Robbins

A bucking bronco is a usual cowboy term for unbroken horse, here turned to play on 'young buck' - young man. 'A White Sport Coat (with a Pink Carnation),' was a chart hit for Marty Robbins in 1957. Don has released an album of Marty Robbins tracks in 2001. More recently Jimmy Buffet released an album called 'A White Sport Coat with a Pink Crustacean.' The pickup truck was seen as a symbol of sexual independence particularly in Texas.

But why was McLean "out of luck"? Perhaps this is again about Holly's death & what it brought with it in the music industry & the changes in society at large.


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