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Thread: American Pie and the History of Mysterious Rock Lyrics

  1. #1
    JEK is offline
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    American Pie and the History of Mysterious Rock Lyrics

    The Wall Street Journal
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    HISTORICALLY SPEAKING
    American Pie and the History of Mysterious Rock Lyrics

    From Don McLean and Bruce Springsteen to the Beatles, the hit songs we hum have often not meant what we think



    ENLARGE
    Buddy Holly and the Crickets in 1958 PHOTO: MICHAEL OCHS ARCHIVES/GETTY IMAGES



    By AMANDA FOREMAN

    April 16, 2015 1:02 p.m. ET33 COMMENTS

    Earlier this month, one of the greatest mysteries in rock n roll was finally solved. The unnamed king and jester on the sidelines in Don McLeans iconic 1971 song American Pie were revealed to be Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan, respectively.
    The lyrics of American Pie are about the day the music died: Feb. 3, 1959, when Buddy Holly,Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson (aka The Big Bopper) went down in a plane crash in Iowa. Critics have long wanted to know whether the song referred only to the obvious tragedy for music or was also a general cry for a lost era of American innocence.


    Mr. McLean himself says that trying to pin down the exact meaning of American Pie runs contrary to the songs spirit. Understanding the lyrics was not a parlor game, Mr. McLean wrote in the auction catalog accompanying the recent sale of his original working manuscript at Christies. Nevertheless, he declared that the song was indeed a lamentan indescribable photograph of America that I tried to capture in words and music.
    The history of American Pie highlights a fundamental conundrum in rock music: The intended meaning of lyrics has often turned out to be at odds with the ways they are received.
    One of the most famous examples is Bruce Springsteens 1984 Born in the U.S.A. Written as a protest against militarism, exploitation and the suffering of many Vietnam War veterans, the songs angry themes were initially drowned out by its catchy chorus and upbeat tempo on electric guitar. Among those who either misheard or misunderstood the lyrics were members of President Ronald Reagans 1984 re-election campaign. For a brief moment, Born in the U.S.A. became the GOPs unofficial campaign song, much to the bemusement of rock aficionados. Exasperated, Mr. Springsteen ultimately decided to perform the song with an acoustic guitar so that the lyrics could be more easily heard and understood.





    Sometimes, the clues to a songs true meaning have been obvious only to those who claim to be in the know. Some fans insisted that Little Richards innocent-sounding Tutti Frutti wasnt about ice cream but about a certain sex act. Others claimed that the virgin in Madonnas Like a Virgin was actually a man.




    Then there are the songs from the 1960s and 70s that everyone assumes are about drugsbut arent. Topping the list is the Beatles trippy Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, which is widely seen as a paean to LSD. But John Lennon insisted that the lyrics were simply about a picture that his son Julian painted at school. The late Lou Reed similarly fought a losing battle with people who claimed that his love ballad Perfect Day was a celebration of heroin. As for Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter, Paul and Mary, the songwriters were outraged that some thought the boy Jackie Paper was a reference to reefer paper for smoking marijuana.

    Dwarfing these disagreements, however, were the claims by conspiracy theorists that songs such as Queens Another One Bites the Dust and Led Zeppelins Stairway to Heaven revealed secret messages when played backward. The controversy encouraged some artists to put such messages in as a deliberate joke. But the fad petered out in the 1990s after the heavy-metal band Judas Priest faced a lawsuit from two families who argued that their sons were driven to commit suicide by subliminal messages in Better by You, Better than Me.

    The meaning of American Pie is now revealed, but that still leaves rock n rolls other great mystery. Who was Carly Simon singing about in Youre So Vain?





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  2. #2
    NYCFred is offline
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    Huh?

    Warren Beatty. C'mon..

  3. #3
    MIke R is offline
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    Wrong......dead wrong

    and it ain't Mick either
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace" Jimi Hendrix

  4. #4
    JEK is offline
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    Before the song became a hit single in 1972, Simon told an interviewer that the song was about "men" not a specific "man".[6]
    In 1983 she told The Washington Post that it is not about Mick Jagger, who contributed uncredited backing vocals to the song.[7] In a 1993 book Backstage Passes, however, Angela Bowie claimed to be the "wife of a close friend" mentioned in "You're So Vain", and that Jagger, for a time, had been "obsessed" with her. Simon made another comment about the subject's identity as a guest artist on Janet Jackson's 2001 single, "Son of a Gun (I Betcha Think This Song Is About You)", which sampled "You're So Vain". Simon said about the song, "The apricot scarf was worn by Nick (Delbanco). Nothing in the words were referred to Mick."
    In a 1989 interview Simon acknowledged that the song is a little bit about Warren Beatty but said the subject of the song is a composite of three men from her L.A. days.[8] In a 2007 interview Beatty said, "Let's be honest. That song was about me."[9] Simon has said that Beatty had called and thanked her for the song.[7]
    Over the years Simon has divulged "letter clues" and has claimed that the subject's name contains the letters A, E, and R.[7]
    Shortly before the writing of the song, Simon was married to James Taylor; she has said that he was "definitely not" the subject of the song.[7] David Bowie, David Cassidy and Cat Stevens have all been cited by the press as speculative candidates.[10][11][12]
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  5. #5
    MIke R is offline
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    Wrong.....she has since recanted and came clean
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace" Jimi Hendrix

  6. #6
    BND is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike R View Post
    Wrong.....she has since recanted and came clean
    Always thought it was Beatty----fits him perfectly! OK, fuss up!

  7. #7
    MIke R is offline
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    David Geffin
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace" Jimi Hendrix

  8. #8
    NYCFred is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike R View Post
    David Geffin
    Hmm. Interesting theory.

  9. #9
    MIke R is offline
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    It's not a theory
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace" Jimi Hendrix

  10. #10
    Voosh is offline
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    It is a fun game to play after a few brews. Heck, just understanding the lyrics can be a trip. I wish I had a buck for every time someone at a jam session (bar or studio) asked "What's the words in verse (fill in blank,) I can never figure them out." Your version of "Louie, Louie" could get you thrown in jail a couple decades ago."Blinded by the light, shot down like a ..." Many sites have compiled our mishearings, eg. - http://kissthisguy.com/ What was Dylan meaning? What's an "Inna Godda Davida?" Was that rapper rapping what I thought the rapper was rapping. When south of the border, I can't figure out the slang in narcocorridos, but the beat is infectious.

    Paul is dead.
    Yeah, Yeah - IMHO

  11. #11
    marybeth is offline
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    Thanks for the Kiss This Guy link Voosh, I stumbled across that site years ago. It's hilarious. Back in the old days it used to ask, as part of the submitter questionnaire, "do you take interesting medication?" I see now they want to know if partying is involved.

  12. #12
    noel is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike R View Post
    David Geffin
    Free Man in Paris.

  13. #13
    MIke R is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by noel View Post
    Free Man in Paris.

    Yep....her and Joni were in fierce competition to be Geffens number one female artist on the record label
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace" Jimi Hendrix

  14. #14
    marybeth is offline
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    Simon wrote the song in 1971, which was before she met David Geffen, when his label Asylum merged with Elektra in 1972. A google search will indicate that she continues to be coy about who is "so vain" (although she vehemently denies its Geffen) and her clues over the years seem to indicate that it is a composite of several men. The letter R clue is in reference to Regis Philbin, given when she was on his show. :)

    While the reliability of Rolling Stone is somewhat in question at this present time, here is an article about this topic:

    http://www.rollingstone.com/music/ne...effen-20100301

  15. #15
    MIke R is offline
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    Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" hit No. 1 in early 1973, and is still talked about today.

    STORY HIGHLIGHTS

    • Carly Simon whispers name "David" backward in new version of "You're So Vain"
    • U.K. tabloid maintains "David" is David Geffen; Simon's publicist disputes that
    • Theories have abounded over the years about subject of 1972 hit




    RELATED TOPICS




    (CNN) -- Has Carly Simon finally told the world the subject of "You're So Vain"?In a new version of the 1972 hit song from her album "Never Been Gone," the singer whispers a name during an instrumental break. Played backward, the name is revealed to be "David."Simon, 64, gave an interview to Uncut magazine about the backward whispering, which prompted the U.K. tabloid The Sun to report that "David" is record executive David Geffen. But Simon's publicist disputed the theory."The man's first name is David," she told CNNRadio, "but it could be one of many Davids." The Sun's theory revolves around the idea that Simon recorded the song to express displeasure at Geffen's signing of a rival, Joni Mitchell, for his record label, Asylum Records. Simon wasn't on Asylum, but her label, Elektra, merged with it in 1972, the year her album "No Secrets," containing "You're So Vain," was released. Geffen was put in charge of Elektra/Asylum.Simon is on record as being uncomfortable with Geffen. In Jac Holzman's oral history of the label, "Follow the Music," she said, "[The merger] was devastating. It was like I was a child of divorce -- my father was leaving me and now I had David Geffen as a stepfather."Simon has long played possum (to paraphrase one of her album titles) about the identity of the "You're So Vain" character, who travels by Lear Jet to witness an eclipse and, cuttingly, "probably think[s] this song is about you."
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace" Jimi Hendrix

  16. #16
    JEK is offline
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    I'm with a Rolling Stone on this one.

    Last week it seemed like the nearly four-decade-old mystery surrounding Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" was finally solved after the always-reliable (cough) U.K. press speculated that record exec David Geffen was the subject of Simon's 1972 hit. As Rolling Stone wrote last week, Simon had previously promised that in a newly recorded version of "You're So Vain," the name of vain man in question would be revealed when the song was played backwards. The reverse lyric sounded simply like "David," fueling rumors that Geffen, who allegedly favored Simon's musical rival Joni Mitchell, was the focus of her hit. However, Simon tells Showbiz 411 that Geffen is not the "David" in question.
    "What a riot! Nothing to do with David Geffen! What a funny mistake! Someone got a clue mistaken for another mistake," Simon said in an e-mail to Showbiz 411. "How can this guessing game stop without a lie?" Simon adds that she never even knew Geffen in 1971 when the song was written, which if Simon has her timeline correct, means "You're So Vain" was penned prior to when Simon's label Elektra Records merged with Geffen's Asylum Records in 1972, the date Geffen assumed control of the combined companies.
    The new version of "You're So Vain" is due on Simon's upcoming disc Never Been Gone. As Rolling Stone reported last year, Simon sued Starbucks following the tepid release of her last album, This Kind of Love, blaming the company for not providing the promised amount of album promotion due to the fact that Starbucks severed ties with Hear Music around the same time her album was released.


    Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/ne...#ixzz3Xs4QAG4X
    Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook
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  17. #17
    MIke R is offline
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    We re probably gonna have to wait til she s dead to find out for sure
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace" Jimi Hendrix

  18. #18
    marybeth is offline
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    The Joni Mitchell theory, which came from an entertainment blogger and picked up by a British tabloid, does not fit. More here on the rumor source and the timeline of the release of No Secrets and the merger of Asylum and Elektra:

    http://www.showbiz411.com/2010/02/26...n-david-geffen


    Not that it matters when Simon came out and said directly its not Geffen:

    Carly Simon herself seems to have emailed the Hollywood Reporter over the weekend to definitively debunk this rumor: “What a riot! Nothing to do with David Geffen! What a funny mistake! Someone got a clue mistaken for another mistake!”
    So that’s that.



  19. #19
    marybeth is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike R View Post
    We re probably gonna have to wait til she s dead to find out for sure
    And yet you were so certain above....

  20. #20
    MIke R is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by marybeth View Post
    And yet you were so certain above....
    Nah....

    the only things I'm certain about are death and taxes.....beyond that - who knows .

    but it's always fun to push buttons and stir the pot around here :eagerness:
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace" Jimi Hendrix

  21. #21
    MIke R is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by marybeth View Post
    And yet you were so certain above....
    Nah....,,

    the only things I'm certain about are death and taxes.....beyond that - who knows .

    but it's always fun to push buttons around here and stir the pot :eagerness:
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace" Jimi Hendrix

  22. #22
    JoshA is offline
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    In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtrl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[2] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[3]

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll

  23. #23
    MIke R is offline
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    YeAh ������that runs in spades in here .....

    what else is new ?
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace" Jimi Hendrix

  24. #24
    andynap is offline
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    Anyone who cares about whom Carly Simon wrote needs a life.


    Andy

  25. #25
    MIke R is offline
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    You troll you......bad Andy!!!!!!
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace" Jimi Hendrix

  26. #26
    MIke R is offline
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    This is a better definition anyway.....



    troll1



    [trohl]
    Spell Syllables




    verb (used with object)
    to fish for or in with a moving line, working the line up or down with a rod, as in fishing for pike,or trailing the line behind a slow-moving boat.

    to move (the line or bait) in doing this.



    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace" Jimi Hendrix

  27. #27
    andynap is offline
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    A better story is the life Carly had at home. It was wild.


    Andy

  28. #28
    NYCFred is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by andynap View Post
    A better story is the life Carly had at home. It was wild.
    Compared to whose?

  29. #29
    kent1994 is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike R View Post
    Nah....

    the only things I'm certain about are death and taxes.....beyond that - who knows .

    but it's always fun to push buttons and stir the pot around here :eagerness:
    Mike do you prefer to stir or be stirred? Lol.

  30. #30
    MIke R is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by kent1994 View Post
    Mike do you prefer to stir or be stirred? Lol.
    little bit of both keeps it interesting.......
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace" Jimi Hendrix

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