Don McLean's 'American Pie' lyrics sell for $1.2 million

Tue Apr 7, 2015 2:23pm EDT
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Songwriter Don McLean's original working manuscript for "American Pie," one of the most iconic songs of the 20th century, sold for $1.2 million, auctioneers Christie's said on Tuesday.

It fell short of the $2 million record set last year for Bob Dylan's hand-written lyrics for "Like A Rolling Stone."

Tom Lecky, head of the books and manuscripts department at Christie's, said the price was a fitting tribute to one of the foremost singer/songwriters of his generation.

"The result is a testament to the creative genius of Don McLean and to the song's ability to still engage and inspire," he said in a statement.

McLean's hand-written and typed drafts include notes and deletions, giving clues to the meaning of the eight-minute song that has had countless interpretations since it was released in 1971.

"The writing and the lyrics will divulge everything there is to divulge," McLean, 69, said in an interview ahead of the sale. "You'll see what I am thinking about. It is a piece of a dream that I am trying to capture."

McLean was a struggling songwriter when he wrote the song in Cold Spring, N.Y. and Philadelphia. Its six verses reflect the social upheavals that were occurring in the United States in the 1960s and early '70s.

"The death of Buddy Holly was the beginning of the song," McLean said. "That's what came to me. I loved Buddy Holly and that is very autobiographical, the first part of the song."   Continued...

Christie's curator Tom Lecky holds the original manuscript for singer Don McLean's "American Pie" at Christie's auction house in New York April 2, 2015.   REUTERS/Brendan McDermid