Don McLean’s American Pie lyrics have sold for $1.2 million at a New York auction.
The 16-page original manuscript had been expected to fetch as much as $1.5 million at the Christie’s sale.
Don McLean, 69, had hinted in February the original manuscript would reveal the song’s lyrical meaning – which had always been kept a mystery.
“The writing and the lyrics will divulge everything there is to divulge,” he said.
Don McLean previously acknowledged the beginning of the song is about the death of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper – Jiles P. Richardson – in a plane crash, but has remained elusive about the rest of the track.
The mystery has made American Pie one of the most debated songs in music history.
Don McLean said writing the song was “a mystical trip into his past”.
The singer said he decided to sell the manuscript, which includes multiple drafts with handwritten notes and deletions, on a whim.
Eight-minute American Pie was No 1 in the US for four weeks and reached No 2 in the UK singles chart in 1972.
Don McLean has announced he will reveal the meaning of the lyrics to his hit song American Pie when the original manuscript goes under the hammer in New York in April.
American Pie is considered Don McLean’s magnum opus and his signature song.
The lyrics are scheduled to be auctioned off on April 7th.
The singer has previously acknowledged that the beginning of the song is about the death of Buddy Holly, but has remained elusive about the rest of the track.
“The writing and the lyrics will divulge everything there is to divulge,” Don McLean told Reuters.
The 16-page manuscript could fetch up to $1.5 million at auction.
The 1971 song, which is Don McLean’s best-known work, was named a Song of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America in 2001.
The six verses are understood to reflect the social upheavals of the 1960s and ’70s.
“I wanted to capture, probably before it was ever formulated, a rock and roll American dream,” Don McLean, 69, told Reuters.
Don McLean’s famous chorus features memorable lines like: “Bye-bye, Miss American Pie/Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry.”
Elsewhere, his wide-reaching rhymes talk of how “the jester sang for the king and queen/In a coat he borrowed from James Dean” and “while Lennon read a book on Marx/The quartet practiced in the park”.
Don McLean said he decided to sell the manuscript, which includes multiple drafts with handwritten notes and deletions, on a whim.
Francis Wahlgren of auction house Christie’s said: “The fact that the drafts, the working process of it, are all being offered as this lot makes it a remarkable insight into the mind of Don McLean and into this incredible song that has touched so many people.
“There is something about this song that captures the era of that period and there is a kind of innocence to it, a loss of innocence in America.”
Bob Dylan’s lyrics for Like A Rolling Stone set the auction record for a handwritten manuscript, when they sold for $2 million last year.
Don McLean has amassed more than 40 gold and platinum records worldwide during his career.
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