Stuck in the car with Leesha (Summer Music Series 1)

Summer is the season for driving in the U.S. and if there’s anything we can be sure of – it’s that at some point (especially in the greater DC area), we’ll be stuck in traffic….or if you’re in the car with other people, perhaps a fight over who is the radio commander.

But if you’re in the car with me, you can add a few more things to the list –

– there will be singing, oh yes, there will be singing (and you’ll either join in or wish the singing would stop)

– depending on how long the car trip is, we may play the game of “who sings this?” or, my personal favorite, “what movie is this from?”

But there is something else you can be sure of, me discussing what the song really means (all those lyrics are there for a reason) or telling you a story about what the song makes me think of (like my crush in high school that wouldn’t go out with me because I wasn’t cool enough. ugh! Prick!)

With that, I’m introducing a random summer series – “Stuck in the car with Leesha,” which I hope you’ll enjoy.  And by the way, the picture was taken in a completely parked car (turned off too) in a parking garage, because we’re safe drivers here @ prolixme.  So buckle up, buttercup.  We’re going for a ride…

So, this first one is a sad memory, but I promise they won’t all be.

“American Pie” by Don McLean

A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music…used to make me smile-

I’m a notorious song flipper and even on my own playlist, there are times I just skip through songs.  But there are some songs I have to listen to the whole way through, every time.  This is one of them.

If we were in the car, I’d ask you if you knew what this song was really about.  Depending on your age, how well versed you are in pop culture, or if you’re like me and have a dad who would make you listen to classics in the car (and would be so embarrassed when we rolled by my crush’s house with the windows down and music blaring), you may know that the song was about the day the music died or the day that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper, and their pilot died in a plane crash.  And if you don’t know who any of those people are, you just seriously broke my heart.

The lyrics “this’ll be the day that I die” refer to Buddy Holly and the Cricket’s famous song, “That’ll be the day,” and “February made me shiver” refers to the February 3 plane crash.  There are other references to artists, actors, songs, pop culture, and other things in the song as well…all you have to do is listen.

For me, the song holds a deeper meaning and reminds me of my 8th grade year of school – the school year in which my grandmother died (in October), a teacher’s assistant in my school jumped in front of a train (in January), a girl in my gym class was accidentally shot and killed while kids were playing with a gun (in February), a very dear friend of mine who I will never forget killed himself on leap day (in February), and a boy killed himself after an argument with his girlfriend (in May).

I remember it was a cold March night, and my parents were driving me home when “American Pie” came on the radio.  And although I’d heard the song for most of my life (often playing it on both sides of an old 45 my dad had), for the first time in my life, I could feel the sadness of the song.  As a young writer, I used to write a lot of poetry – and a lot during this time in my life was sad poetry.  As a project for an English class, I wrote a poem about my sadness and confusion over the deaths and put it to the same rhythm as “American Pie.”  It was the first thing that I wrote with my heart, to try to deal with a terrible grief, and the first thing I was ever proud of as a writer.  In truth, that year is something I still think about and write about, and probably always will.

If you’ve never heard the song, you should check it out, it’s one of my favorites.

“American Pie,” by Don McLean

“A long long time ago
I can still remember how
That music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they’d be happy for a while

But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn’t take one more step

I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
Something touched me deep inside
The day the music died
So

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

Did you write the book of love
And do you have faith in God above
If the Bible tells you so?
Do you believe in rock and roll?
Can music save your mortal soul?
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?

Well, I know that you’re in love with him
‘Cause I saw you dancin’ in the gym
You both kicked off your shoes
Man, I dig those rhythm and blues

I was a lonely teenage broncin’ buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the music died
I started singin’

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

Now, for ten years we’ve been on our own
And moss grows fat on a rolling stone
But, that’s not how it used to be

When the jester sang for the king and queen
In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
And a voice that came from you and me

Oh and while the king was looking down
The jester stole his thorny crown
The courtroom was adjourned
No verdict was returned

And while Lennon read a book on Marx
The quartet practiced in the park
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died
We were singin’

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
And singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

Helter skelter in a summer swelter
The birds flew off with a fallout shelter
Eight miles high and falling fast

It landed foul on the grass
The players tried for a forward pass
With the jester on the sidelines in a cast

Now the half-time air was sweet perfume
While sergeants played a marching tune
We all got up to dance
Oh, but we never got the chance

‘Cause the players tried to take the field
The marching band refused to yield
Do you recall what was revealed
The day the music died?
We started singin’

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
And singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

Oh, and there we were all in one place
A generation lost in space
With no time left to start again

So come on Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Jack Flash sat on a candlestick
‘Cause fire is the devil’s only friend

Oh and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage
No angel born in Hell
Could break that Satan’s spell

And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The day the music died
He was singin’

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away

I went down to the sacred store
Where I’d heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn’t play

And in the streets the children screamed
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken

And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died
And they were singing

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

They were singing
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die”

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19 thoughts on “Stuck in the car with Leesha (Summer Music Series 1)”

  1. When that song hits the radio, or Iphone, or whatever, you can’t skip or change the dial. At least not at first. Don Maclean may not have many hits, but American Pie might be musical genius. It manages to be sad, reflective, catchy, powerful, light, all at the same time.
    It means a lot of things to different people, as all but none more powerful than your story. At least as far as I know.

    But February made me shiver
    With every paper I delivered
    Bad News on the doorstep
    I couldn’t take one more step

    I can’t remember if I cried
    When I read about his widowed bride
    Something touched me deep inside
    The day the music…died

    Those stanzas have always spoke to me. Maybe because I’m a February boy and used to deliver papers. I had a teammate and friend OD in high school and I remember listening to this to try and understand it. Those 8 lines seemed to help me the most.

    Great post. Can’t wait for the next installment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. the thing about sad stories is that there’s always someone with a sadder tale, the most important things are – what you take with you from the experience and how it changes you/your outlook, and remembering the good times with good people, of course.

      I’m sorry to hear about your friend in high school, that is really sad – such a turbulent time for you. But I’m glad that like me, you were able to find solace for yourself and that the same song touched you too. 🙂

      Like

  2. Haha. Nice. I always geek out in the car too. I now have my two year old daughter joining in my singing escapades. We just blasted some “Hotel California” this morning. I am pretty sure we did it better than The Eagles. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🙂 Nice. Hotel California is a good one too, but from the Eagles my favorite has got to be a toss up between heartbreak tonight and peaceful easy feeling, with Hotel California following close behind.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I worked briefly as a part-time radio DJ at a tiny radio station on the Big Island of Hawaii in the 90s. I’d work solo, w/no automation like the bigger stations have today. The only bathroom was outside the office, down 2 flights of stairs, and then down a long hallway. To ensure I could make it back to my listeners during one play, I selected the marvelous and lengthy American Pie when Mother Nature called!

    Liked by 1 person

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