I’ve got a memory like a sponge sometimes. Not for some of the important things–like birthdays, appointments, or anniversaries. But for song titles and artists, for lyrics and movie quotations, and for miscellaneous facts that could only ever be useful during a round of Final Jeopardy or at random bar trivia.
One of the songs that I know all the words to that sticks out in my mind like a sore thumb (pardon the cliche) would have to be American Pie by Don McLean.
I grew up with this song. I remember sitting in my dad’s old Ford Ranger (that he’s had longer than I’ve been alive–and almost as long as he has been with my mother) as a child singing this along with the radio before it crapped out and didn’t get replaced for several years. I remember singing it on the way to beginner band practice in elementary school, after getting bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches with a side of either Yoo-Hoo (the best chocolate drink in the whole world) or Cranberry Apple Raspberry juice. (Dad and I would leave the leftovers of that juice in the bottle in a tree in the wintertime and make slushies that were better than anything else in the world.)
I never really understood the lyrics until I was much older–but it made me appreciate them all the more.
“And there, we were all in one place, a generation lost in space with no time left to start again.”
I felt that way after high school ended, after college ended, after my service term ended. Lost in space, no room to start over. And I found myself always turning back and singing those words, heading to the comfort of simpler times, happy memories, and all the love from my family I still remember every time I hear that song.
I always remember the story my mother tells when we talk about the song; how I composed my own lyrics to the chorus: “Bye bye, Miss American Pie, drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was TOO SMALL.” (Emphasis on the “too small” for reasons I don’t entirely know…or why I chose those words. I’m not even entirely sure I knew what a levee was at that point. I most certainly didn’t know what whiskey and rye were.)
But the beauty of this song is in that it has always stayed with me, it has always been a part of me, and will continue to be as long as I know all the words by heart.