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American Pie

Don McLean

from the album American Pie released in 1972

jump to: lyrics / notes & tabs / videos / chord progressions / song info

Lyrics

Intro

G D/F# Em A long, long time ago Am C I can still remember how that Em D Music used to make me smile G D/F# Em And I knew if I had my chance Am C That I could make those people dance, and Em C D Maybe they'd be happy for a while Em Am But, February made me shiver Em Am With every paper I'd deliver C G/B Am Bad news on the doorstep C D I couldn't take one more step G D/F# Em I can't remember if I cried Am D When I read about his widowed bride G D/F# Em But, something touched me deep inside C D G The day the music died

Chorus

G C G D So... bye bye, Miss American Pie G C G D Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry G C G D And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye Em A7 Singing, this'll be the day that I die Em D7 This'll be the day that I die

Verse

G Am Did you write the book of love C Am And do you have faith in God above? Em D ...If the Bible tells you so G D/F# Em Do you believe in Rock and Roll Am C Can music save your mortal soul Em C A7 D And, can you teach me how to dance real slow? Em D Well, I know that you're in love with him Em D 'Cause I saw you dancing in the gym C G/B Am You both kicked off your shoes C D7 Man, I dig those rhythm and blues G D/F# Em I was a lonely teenage broncin' buck Am C With a pink carnation and a pick-up truck G D/F# Em But, I knew I was out of luck C D G C G D The day the music died............. I started 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 Singing, 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 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 Singing, this'll be the day that I die This'll be the day that I die Helter Skelter in a summer swelter The Byrds flew off with a fallout shelter Eight miles high and falling fast It landed foul in the grass The players tried for a forward pass With the jester on the sidelines in a cast Now the halftime air was sweet perfume While the sergeants played a marching tune We all got up to dance Oh but, we never had 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 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 Singing, 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 candle stick 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... we 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 Singing, this'll be the day that I die This'll be the day that I die (slower, same chords as intro / 1st verse) 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 Singing, 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 C D G C G Singing, this'll be the day that I die

Notes & Tabs

Guitar Chords Used

Here is how to play the guitar chords used in this song. Overall, these are played in a quite straightforward way and do not require any embellishment to make this song work. If you aiming to play the entire song, try to mix up the dynamics (some parts louder, some parts softer, etc) in order to give the song some arc... playing it at the same level of intensity for 8 minutes would get monotonous.

e-|---3----2----2----2----0----0----0----------0----
B-|---0----3----3----1----0----1----1----0-----2----
G-|---0----2----2----2----0----2----0----0-----0----
D-|---0----0----0----0----2----2----2----0-----2----
A-|---2----0--------------2----0----3----2-----0----
E-|---3----2--------------0-------------------------
      G   D/F#  D    D7   Em   Am   C   G/B    A7 

Whenever there is a D chord used in this song (or a D7, for that matter) -- can you freely add embellishment using a Dsus2 and/or Dsus4 and it will essentially always sound good. This is done by simple adding or removing your middle & pinky finger from the high E string. A simple example is as follows -- but mix it up and make it your own as you see fit. You can get a lot of mileage out of this technique in most songs using a D chord.

e-|----2-----3-----2-----0-----2-----
B-|----3-----3-----3-----3-----3-----
G-|----2-----2-----2-----2-----2-----
D-|----0-----0-----0-----0-----0-----
A-|----------------------------------
E-|----------------------------------
       D   Dsus4   D   Dsus2   D 

Videos

Official Album Recording

For an audio clip of the official album recording of this song, check out this video (which is the song played over a still frame). Useful for referencing the exact studio recording, should you not have the song handy.



Don McLean Live Acoustic Performance

Here is a great version of Don McLean playing this song live with a solo acoustic guitar. There are plenty of little acoustic riffs he adds in which can be great to watch and learn from, if you want to spice it up.



Recommended Guitar Lesson

If you want a video guide to help learn this song, look no further than this Justin Sandercoe lesson. He does a great job explaining the strumming pattern and showing closeups of the chord changes.



Instrumental Fingerpicking Version

Here is Neil from TotallyGuitars showing how you can play an instrumental fingerpicked version of the song's intro, with the melody incorporated into the notes and chords played. This is very, very well done and inspiring to watch.



Chord Progressions

Intro

"A long long time ago..."
| G D/F# Em | Am . C . |
| Em        | D  . . . |
| G D/F# Em | Am . C . |
| Em  C     | D  . . . |
"But, February made me shiver..."
| Em    Am  | Em . Am . |
| C G/B Am  | C  . D  . |
"I can't remember if I cried..."
| G D/F# Em | Am . D . |
| G D/F# Em | C  . D . | G . . . |

Chorus

"Bye bye, Miss American Pie..."
| G . C . | G . D . | x3
"This'll be the day that I die..."
| Em . . . | A7 . . . |
| Em . . . | D7 . . . |

Verse

"Did you write the book of love...
|  G . . . | Am . . . | C . . . | Am . . . |
| Em . . . |  D . . . | . . . . |
"Do you believe in rock and roll..."
| G . D/F# . | Em . . . | Am . . . | C . . . |
| Em  .  . . | A7 . . . |  D . . . | . . . . |
"I know that you're in love with him..."
| Em .  .  . |  D . . . | Em . . . |  D . . . |
|  C . G/B . | A7 . . . |  C . . . | D7 . . . |
"I was a lonely teenage broncin' buck"
| G . D/F# . | Em . . . | Am . . . | C . . . |
| G . D/F# . | Em . . . |  C . . . | D . . . |
| G .  C   . |  G . D . |

Song Info

Song: American Pie
Artist: Don McLean
Album: American Pie
Year: 1972
Label: Capitol Records

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About

My name is David Potsiadlo, and I created Songnotes to share my collection of guitar tabs, chords, and lyrics for my favorite songs.

Since I started playing guitar over 10 years ago, I've often been frustrated by the preponderance of mediocre and incomplete song tabs littered across the internet. To combat this, I started keeping my own collection of notes for each song I learn -- always taking the extra time to make sure accuracy and completeness are never compromised. Years later, my collection grew to the point where I knew I had to share it online with fellow aspiring musicians.

In December 2012, I began designing & developing a website that became Songnotes. Here, I share my personal collection of hand-crafted music notation with all those online. I hope you enjoy.

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