On February 3, 1959, a plane crashed killing The Big Bopper, Buddy Holly, and Ritchie Valens. Ever since it has been called “The Day the Music Died”. It may be the day the music died, but it also gave birth to a beautiful song by Don McLean, “American Pie”.
On February 3rd, I told my mom that it was the anniversary (more out of trivia/general knowledge; she was around when it happened) . She told me I hated that song , which I thought was funny because I’ve always remembered loving it. My grandparents used to have a cassette tape with a live recording of it on it. I would sneak away and listen to it at least once when I visited. If I was spending the night, I would play it before going to bed. I loved the sound of the crowd and how the song was slightly different from the version I heard on the radio. I remember feeling terribly mature listening to the song with all its symbols and metaphors.
Years later, after college, a friend of my mom’s “translated” the song. He went through and explained what each reference was. I was fascinated. I knew a couple of them but I didn’t know all of them. It was the history of the 60’s, capturing the ups and downs, the turbulence and uncertainty, in a song. He explained why he thought certain symbols were used for certain things and people.
I’ve always thought it was a beautiful song, almost haunting and epic in its own way. The song and the event are about unjust things and loss of innocence. It was unfair (as it is with any tragic accident where people or passengers are not in control of what’s happening) they died the way they did. They were accomplished, they added to people’s lives, they had their own lives ahead of them and…that was it. I think that’s true with any death, but celebrity or public perishing make us aware of it.
Mom told me my dad used to play it when I was little. I would scream and tell him to stop. So he did. He stopped playing guitar and hasn’t really picked it up since. I guess it really was the day the music died.
I also learned February 3rd is a holiday in Japan, setsubun, the first day of spring, where they cast the demons out and seal luck in. I thought it was an interesting coincidence.