Approaching 40: American Pie

Some songs identify with very specific times and places. And for that reason, when I hear Don McLean’s “American Pie” I’m reminded over driving over the bridge in Fall River, Massachusetts. I think I was going to work with my dad one day. Once you crossed the bridge into Fall River, Battleship Cove was off to your left and there was a kind of warehouse off to your right. It seems to me that we went to this warehouse for some reason. Playing on the radio in the background was “American Pie” and to this day, I can’t hear the works, “…took the Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry,” without thinking of that scene.

I don’t know why that is. It begs the question for how memories are stored. Are some scenes cross-indexed by the songs we hear? Or the smells we smell?

At the time, I knew nothing of what McLean’s song was really about. To me it was just one of those long, story-like songs that had a nice rhythm and interesting lyrics. It was many years later that I learned what the song was about, but that didn’t really change anything for me. It still reminded me of Fall River.

About Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.

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