"American Pie" is a song by American singer and songwriter Don McLean. Recorded and released on the American Pie album in 1971, the single was the number-one US hit for four weeks in 1972 starting January 15 after just eight weeks on the Billboard charts (where it entered at number 69).
The repeatedly mentioned phrase "the day the music died" refers to the plane crash in 1959 that killed early rock and roll stars Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens, and ended the era of early rock and roll; this became the popular nickname for that crash. However the overall theme of the song goes beyond mourning McLean's childhood music heroes, and reflects the deep cultural changes and profound disillusionment and loss of innocence of his entire generation – the early rock and roll generation – that took place between the 1959 plane crash and either late 1969 or late 1970. The meaning of the other lyrics, which cryptically allude to many of the jarring events and social changes experienced during that period, have been debated for decades.
McLean repeatedly declined to explain the symbolism behind the many characters and events mentioned; he eventually released his songwriting notes to accompany the original manuscript when it was sold in 2015, explaining many of these.