Don McLean explains why he finally decided to share secrets about “American Pie” in new documentary

Courtesy of Paramount+

The new documentary The Day the Music Died: The Story of Don McLean’s “American Pie” gets its television premiere today on the Paramount+ streaming service.

The film, which focuses on Don McLean‘s enduring 1971 anthem “American Pie” and its legacy, features new interviews with the singer/songwriter, as well as with country star Garth Brooks, Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson, actor Peter Gallagher, “Weird Al” Yankovic, and others.

The film also tells the story of the 1959 plane crash that killed rock ‘n’ roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper — the incident that serves as a launching point for the tune — and features McLean, for the first time ever, sharing details about the tune’s creation and the meaning behind its lyrics.

McLean had previously been reluctant to discuss the song’s enigmatic lyrics, but he tells ABC Audio that he recently had a change of heart, noting, “I’m at the last portion of my life, and I feel if people want to know, I’ll tell them everything I can tell them.”

Don recalls that as he was shooting his last interview for the film, “I said, ‘You know what? We’re missing the most important thing. I’ve got to talk about the lyrics of this song and how I did this, and what I was thinking.'”

Among the revelations McLean offers up are whether some of the enigmatic characters he mentions in “American Pie” actually were intended to represent such legendary music figures as Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, The Beatles and The Byrds.

The documentary also includes segments about the recording of “American Pie,” and about McLean’s performance this year at the Surf Ballroom — the Iowa venue where Holly, Valens and The Big Bopper played the night they were killed — on the 63rd anniversary of the tragedy.

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