1971 was the year everything changed in the music world, as Don McLean’s epic composition American Pie was to shortly ascend to the summit of the charts. The longest song to achieve #1 Billboard status, it was steeped in symbolism and mysterious goings-on that enlarged the canvas for what was felt to be possible in popular music. Oh, and McLean was a formidable vocalist and performer, to boot.
Others have taken a swing at the iconic piece, most notably Madonna in 2000. This version is surprisingly strong, but lacks the sweep and power of the McLean iterations. The song remains a landmark to this day.
It is fair to say that a major theme in the song is the loss of innocence. It is also fair to say that there would appear to be a lot more going on than just that. And, finally, the tone of the song lends it more of a heroic than tragic quality.