Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Round 3: Don McLean Vs. Madonna

Some people argue that "American Pie," released by Don McLean is one of the greatest rock songs ever recorded.  Inspired by the tragic death of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper, Mclean created this epic song is thick with musical symbolism.  


Praised by McLean himself as "a gift from a goddess," and "mystical and sensual," Madonna's version of this song released in 2000 become a worldwide hit.  Cutting out some, of the versus and transforming the background to a modern swirl of electronic wonder, Madonna's cover was a major departure from the original.

The Winner:

I have to confess that I don't love "American Pie."  While I find the symbolism interesting, it's more like playing a game of trivia trying to name the references.  All of the lines simply don't really add up to have a deep layer of emotional meaning.  Yes, this is great sing along song and the nostalgia is inspired but something about it seems pretentious.

Probably the biggest disconnect with McLean's version is that he singing about an event that few people have a deep emotional connection to.  What Madonna is singing about instead is our the love of "American Pie" the song and how it is part of the American musical tapestry.  In this way Madonna's version is more meaningful and relevant.   

I'm not saying the McLean's version is bad, it's just that through Madonna's version I feel more immediately what it means to be American. 

Next Week: Billy Idol Vs. Tommy James & The Shondells

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