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Boomer Recessionals: American Pie

The meaning of American Pie in words and images in case you’ve missed it the first 500 times you’ve heard it.

The creator, lonestarsound, notes in 2007:

This is a revision to previously posted videos. I was fortunate enough to go to the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake IA and speak firsthand with many who were there including Tommy Allsup who flipped the coin with Ritchie Valens. This version corrects some factual errors and includes new footage from the SURF.

Interesting enough but this video also strikes a lot of chords with me as I watch it.

In a strange series of events not worth contemplating at this late date, I was present at a number of the scenes alluded to and, if I wasn’t present, was keenly and sharply aware of others as they occurred.  In a pool of nostalgia, I recall mostly — on just a cursory viewing  —  the time spent with Janis and that day at Altamont at the butt end of the 60s.

And then there was  The Family Dog and Fillmore West before there was a Fillmore East.

And before that, I was a paperboy.

And after that, I slow danced in the gym with this and that wallflower and the six-inch ruler. Pony skirts and petticoats.

And I had a white sport coat and a pink carnation and white bucks. And the bag you patted them with.

And I drove the old Hudson to the levee of the Sacramento River with my pals and a case of the cheapest green beer you could cadge from a hobo down by Skid Row.

And I had a bit part in Richard II and was rehearsing the assassination scene in the mockup of the Globe Theater in Davis, California when the phone rang backstage and somebody told me the President has been assassinated in Dallas.

And decades later was working on a film with John Lennon when John was assassinated.

And decades before that there were the pre-LSD years spent with the Free Speech Movement at Sproul Hall and later the Vietnam Day Committee.

And then there was People’s Park and the street riots with shotguns and the National Guard and the tear gas from the helicopters.

And then the Altamont concert with the Angels and the beatings and the clubbings with the pool cues and then the flashed gun and then the knife.

And then the long walk out into the night with the bonfires on the crests of the Altamont hills looking like some strange throwback to the marches of the middle ages at night with strange gawky creatures dancing like shadows in front of the fires…

And then that was the end of my Sixties. It was, after all, December of 1969.

They say that if you remember the Sixties you weren’t there. My curse is that I was there and I remember everything.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Casey Klahn August 31, 2019, 9:17 PM

    All good stuff. My 60s memories come from 10 years lesser vintage than yours, good sir. I walked with hippies in downtown Aberdeen; aimlessly and yet with a meta purpose (freedom). A little later, I pushed Kurt Cobain over on his bicycle – that stupid kid.

    This week I watched a vid of Don McLean recently playing his other epic ballad, Vincent, at the VVG Museum in Amsterdam. He was not baked; he didn’t sound great but WTF. It was a victory lap!

    I saw Dylan 3 times in concert. Each one feels like history.

    Take it easy.

  • Nunnya Bidnez, jr September 1, 2019, 3:19 AM

    have you seen”Loving Vincent”?
    it’s a hand-painted (in the style of Van Gogh) animated film biography.

  • Glenda T. Goode September 1, 2019, 5:08 AM

    I was in Junior High during the mid sixties living in an area quite removed from the tumult that grew as the decade moved along. Even so, I was acutely aware of the conflicts that were going on.

    My biggest recollection was that there were so many different things going on. By this I am saying that it was not one movement or one idea. It was as if the fountain of creativity blew open and it was a kaleidoscope of new things. Tempering this was the reality of violence and death both in the streets and in Vietnam.

    I have listened to the song since its debut and at this point I see that it was a collection of memories thrown together in a poetic fashion in an effort to portray the uncertainty of the times. Much of what transpired during that decade was in response to the disconnect between the youth and older population as the youth did not fall in line to support the nation like they had done in the 40’s and 50’s. New paths were taken and finding a way to escape reality was one of the ways of coping with things at least short term.

    We had so much gained in new artists and national figures and we had lost many as well. The song lists both the bad and the good that came along in that decade and that there are ups and downs even if we do not want them. As tragic as these losses are, there is always new people and ideas rising up in their wake.

    If the line ‘Bye Bye Miss America Pie’ holds any meaning it is the loss of innocence. That in growing up, you learn that life is not always the way you want it and that this is ok. We’ll get past this.

  • Casey Klahn September 1, 2019, 8:39 AM

    That’s none of your business, Nunya.

    /kidding. Yes, I’ve seen everything ever put out about Vincent. The recent one with Willem Dafoe is the best; the Kirk Douglas one is durable, though.

  • Sam L. September 1, 2019, 10:21 AM

    The ’60s: I was in my last two years of high school, 5 years of college, 6 months at work, and my first 3 years in the military. Life was good.

  • TrangBang68 September 1, 2019, 11:10 AM

    My 60’s we’re teenaged alcoholism, Sandy Koufax, dropping Owsley Purple Flats with my best friends who went on to death from addiction, a ferocious firefight on the Vam Co Dung river, the onset of ten plus years of polysubstance abuse, psychosis and PTSD, the death of God (he came back to life in 1978) and seeing Bob Dylan at Kleinhan’s Music Hall in Buffalo

  • Auntie Analogue September 1, 2019, 12:28 PM

    Sheesh. That Don McLean recording is one of the most toxic earworms.


  • BJM September 1, 2019, 12:48 PM

    The Boomers great-grandchildren Millennials and Gen Z are more like Boomers than they would find comfortable. They know everything, chafe at societal norms and rules, seek to overturn the old order without much thought what that means in the future, and are being mislead by Socialists.

    In an odd way that gives me hope. We affected enough societal change to allow us to embrace prosperity and inculcate a renewed American exceptionalism, perhaps they will too. Thus far their choices seem to be headed in the wrong direction and it may be their grandchildren who restore the Republic…but it will re emerge in a form we would recognize of that I am sure. Mankind’s natural state is freedom, not servitude.

    Wait, wasn’t that a Star Wars plot?


  • Terry September 1, 2019, 8:51 PM

    My favorite PIE song is this one: https://youtu.be/l8EhC6rGO54
    Later generations will need to ask a Boomer what this Pie is. Superior desert indeed.

  • Chris September 2, 2019, 2:57 PM

    Damn boomer hippies 🙂
    Just remember between yous & the millennials there’s another
    Generation that dislikes you both…

  • Tom G September 3, 2019, 9:06 AM

    It’s Art – and part of the power of great Art is that each individual has their own personal reaction to it.

    Very interesting ending quote by McClean:
    The fact that people were drawn into the song as a result of symbols I chose to use … was the reason I chose to use those symbols in the first place.

    The great artists choose to use symbols in their art to draw in the audience, and are successful.

  • Teri Pittman September 3, 2019, 11:58 AM

    My late husband hung out at the Avalon and Fillmore. I lived further down the Bay, didn’t have a car. I did get up there a few times.

    The one thing that I wish people would talk about with Boomers is that we liked to make things. We wanted to learn how to work with our hands, build with wood, spin wool and knit, learn some of the crafts that were unfashionable at the time. I wish I saw more of that in the younger kids today. Wasting all your time starring at your cell phone really is a waste.

  • pbird September 6, 2019, 3:08 PM

    Hey Casey did you make the great piano drop or the Sky River Rock Festival at Betty Nelson’s farm. I was there but…lol.
    Maybe you were a bit young for that.

  • pbird September 6, 2019, 3:26 PM

    I agree Teri. I tried to make everything and got good at a lot of it. Heck we even made funny looking houses…painted up our cars…anything you could think of.