Once upon a time one could watch a romantic comedy whose main attraction for men was the distant possibility of glimpsing Alyson Hannigan's flute being used inappropriately. (Although I freely admit that, as a heterosexual male, I am ill-placed to judge the frisson of Jason Biggs' culinary experiments). However since that particular film franchise has thundered on past the bounds of good taste, or even good bad taste, let us divert our attention from the films to the name.
The phrase originates with a 1971 album and it's title song, American Pie. Prior to researching this journal, I had assumed that McLean was making an abbreviated allusion to the common American symbology of 'mom and apple pie', However it turns out that the characterisation of 'pie' as particularly American is very recent. Consequently, the coincidence of imagery may be just that:coincidence.
Don McLean is an American singer-songwriter whose music does not sit comfortably in the genre structure. His voice and arrangements are too rich for 'folk'; his songs rock too much for 'easy listening' but are too gentle for 'rock'. And am I just imagining that there are hints of jazz in the mix?
The album's title track is dirge: it mourns the plane crash in which Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Richie Valens were killed. There are whole websites discussing the wider ramifications of the lyrics, for example Miss American Pie and Understanding American Pie. I won't attempt to compete; I will retreat to reminisce from my early teenage years.
When I was a little boy, there was a purple exhibition catalogue on my parents' bookshelf. I remember looking at it and remembering going to the exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. It is strange that I no longer remember the 1969 Van Goch show, but only have the memory of a memory. But nevertheless, the images, including The Potato Eaters (above), A Café Terrace at Night, and assorted Sunflowers made a big impression on me.
A couple later, the music in the school assembly was from the current pop charts, and not some classical piece from centuries past. As if that wasn't sufficiently unusual, we were shown poster reproductions of the pictures I loved (the early works reproduced too glossy, the later ones too dull). The song was Vincent, of course. (Don't tell me you thought it was Pictures Of Matchstick Men about L.S.Lowry!)
The song is constructed on the pentatonic scale formed from the black keys on the piano. In the list in wikipeda, Five black-key pentatonic scales of the piano, the melody of the opening phrase 'Now I understand' is labelled 'Blues Major, Ritusen'. So, mucking around with an out-of-tune upright at my Grandfather's flat, I was able to figure out how to play the tune. :)
Another trick of memory afflicts this fine album. You can quite happily listen to the album and remember that each of the songs is good. However when you have finished listening and turned ones attention to other things, two songs have dazzled. The other songs have been eclipsed in the glare.