http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqukWXviyew If I were ever to have a confrontation, somewhere over the course of my travels, with a particularly friendly and inquisitve alien who was curious about us earthlings, I should have to tell him that life for us is somewhat like the old Don McLean song, “American Pie”. The famous anthem takes place over the course of the time period between the plain ordinary middle 1950’s and the out of control late 1960’s. McLean points out the deaths of early rock star Buddy Holly and President John F. Kennedy as analogous to the way the innocence of childhood has to be supplanted with the changes of adolescence and the hardships of adulthood. The music of the 1950’s was as innocent and optimistic as the times. During the 1960’s, though, people were forced to face up to inevitable hardships and bitter disillusionment. Throughout the song, McLean juxtaposes allusions to the pop cultural and political milestones of its era to evoke an atmosphere of bitter pain and disappointment. Songs such as the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter”, the Byrds’ “Eight Miles High” and the Rolling Stones’ “Jumping Jack Flash” are referred to as symbols of war, despair and Satan. The singer, raised a Catholic, ultimately feels a need to reject God: “Did you write the book of love and do you have faith in God above…?/…the three Men I admired most, the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost, They caught the last train for the coast…” It’s quite an exceptionally bitter, sad, disappointing song but it brings up quite a lot of important points about mankind’s, and each specific individual’s, ultimate fight with reality. Thwarted expectations, the growth from infancy to adulthood, and questions about God all must be dealt with. The post-World War II optimism he refers to is destroyed by Viet Nam era cynicism and bitterness. Life happens that way in general. The song shows well how the stark and harsh can distort the happy and joyful.