The Long Goodbye
A primary key to understanding American Pie can be found here
in the chorus, as the theme of America's lost innocence is most clearly
• • •
So bye bye, Miss American Pie
"Miss American Pie"* is "as American as apple pie,"
so the saying goes; she could also be a synthesis of this symbol and
the beauty queen Miss America. Either way, her name evokes a simpler
in American life when these icons held more meaning. She is the America
of a passing era, and he is bidding her farewell.
Drove my Chevy to the levee
But the levee was dry
"Drove my Chevy to the levee" alludes to a drive "along
a levee" mentioned in a series of popular 1950s Chevrolet television
commercials sung by Dinah Shore:
Drive your Chevrolet through the USA,
America's the greatest land of all
On a highway or a road along a levee...
..life is completer in a Chevy
So make a date today to see the USA
And see it in your Chevrolet
and which serves as a signpost to that
as the Chevrolet itself is a familiar icon of 1950s America. Also, given
that a drive to a levee carries the suggestion of romance in a car, we
can almost see him on a date here. But the date is over, the levee is
dry—someone he once loved has betrayed him; something that once
gave him sustenance has evaporated.
And just for the record:
Levee \Lev"ee\, n. [F. lev['e]e, fr. lever
to raise. An embankment to prevent inundation; as, the levees along the
Mississippi; sometimes, the steep bank of a river. [U. S] Source: Webster's
Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.
*"American Pie" was not name of the aircraft that Holly, the
Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens died in, as is often assumed. See the songwriter's
comments about this rumor here.