American Pie

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American Pie is the last song played at nearly every dance of every site. Released on the album of the same name in 1972, it topped the charts for many a week and was nominated for (but failed to lose for some odd reason) many Grammies. The song was voted 5th Most Memorable Song of the 20th Century in a survey taken several years ago. Don McLean has said that he wrote the song in order to sum up what rock and roll was like up to that time and how it influenced the lives of the people around it. The nature of the lyrics is rather cryptic and Don McLean has not officially stated what he meant by them; rather, he encourages people to give them meaning. It is not affiliated with the movie of the same name in any way, shape, or form.

Lyrics

American Pie, by Don McLean


A long, long time ago,
I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance,
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they'd be happy for a while
But February made me shiver,
With every paper I'd deliver
Bad news on the doorstep,
I couldn't take one more step
I can't remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died

Chorus:
So bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing this will be the day that I die,
This will be the day that I die

Did you write the Book of Love,
And do you have faith in God above,
If the Bible tells you so?
Now, do you believe in rock 'n' roll,
Can music save your mortal soul,
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?
Well, I know that you're in love with him
'Cause I saw you dancin' in the gym
You both kicked off your shoes,
Man, I dig those rhythm and blues!
I was a lonely teenage broncin' buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
But I knew that I was out of luck
The day the music died

I started singing...

Chorus

Now for ten years we've been on our own,
And moss grows fat on a rolling stone,
But that's not how it used to be.
When the jester sang for the King and Queen
In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
And a voice that came from you and me
Oh, and while the King was looking down,
The jester stole his thorny crown.
The courtroom was adjourned,
No verdict was returned.
And while Lennon read a book on Marx,
The quartet practiced in the park,
And we sang dirges in the dark,
The day the music died.

We were singing...

Chorus

Helter Skelter in a summer swelter
The birds flew off with a fallout shelter
Eight miles high and falling fast
It landed foul on the grass
The players tried for a forward pass
With the jester on the sidelines in a cast
Now, the halftime air was sweet perfume
While The Sergeants played a marching tune
We all got up to dance,
Oh, but we never got the chance
'Cause the players tried to take the field
The marching band refused to yield
Do you recall what was revealed
The day the music died?

We started singing...

Chorus

Oh, and there we were all in one place
A generation lost in space
With no time left to start again
So come on Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Jack Flash sat on a candlestick
'Cause fire is the devil's only friend
Oh, and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage
No angel born in Hell
Could break that Satan's spell
And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The day the music died

He was singing...

Chorus

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news...
But she just smiled and turned away
I went down to the sacred store
Where I'd heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn't play
And in the streets the children screamed
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken
And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died

And they were singing...
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
Singin' this will be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die

They were singin'
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing this'll be the day that I die.

Significance

It is the last song played during all CTY dances (except for Skidmore Session 1), which makes it part of the High Holy Canon for nearly every site. This also includes Baby CTY, which does not always observe the same traditions as regular CTY, as well as CAA. The tradition has more recently spread to TIP (a somewhat CTY-like program run by Duke University) and the Summer Institute for the Gifted (a vaguely CTY-like program).

Each site has different traditions/dances that go along with the song:

Lancaster

Student participation

  • Clapping hands twice and then once on the offbeats of the pre-choruses.
  • The whole camp linking arms in a giant circle, swaying, and kicking alternate feet during the first and last verses. ("Right foot first!" although it used to be "Left foot first, right!") (For the other verses, everyone runs into the center jumping up and down.)
  • Waving hands back and forth during the chorus.
  • After the line "This will be the day that I die" everyone chants "Die, die, die, die! Live, live, live, live! Sex, sex, sex, sex! More, more, more, more!" while shaking fists (Right for each "die" Left for each "live" Both for each "sex" do a pelvic thrust with fist pumps for each "more") tradition is the shout of "Orgy!" after the final "more," though some dislike this. The RAs usually respond with a shout of "No Orgies!"
  • Small circles are formed in which groups act out certain parts in the song (there are usually two circles, one composed of (mostly instructional) staff members and the other of the Alcove.)
  • When singing "And can you teach me how to dance real slow?" two people dance slowly in the center as others mimic.
  • When singing "You both kicked off your shoes," pretend to kick off your shoes by kicking at air two(+) times. do not ACTUALLY kick off your shoes (footwear must be worn at all times).
  • When singing "With a pink carnation..." pretend to stick a flower in your mouth (use glow sticks as available), or pretend to stick a pink carnation on your chest.
  • When singing "...and a pickup truck" pretend to drive a car by turning an imaginary steering wheel.
  • When singing "And moss grows fat on a rolling stone", bend down, rolling your arms around each other.
  • When singing the part about the Jester, a person act out the part of the Jester, while two other people act the part of King and Queen (and wears any kind of hat as a sub for real crown). Someone helps the Jester don their coat (the Jester's "James Dean").
  • After singing "And while Lennon read a book on Marx," yell 'Which One?'
  • When singing "The birds flew off with a fallout shelter/Eight miles high and falling fast", use your hands to imitate a bird flying upwards and falling.
  • When singing "The players tried for a forward pass", pretend to throw a football.
  • When singing "With the Jester on the sidelines in a cast", the Jester hops around as if in a cast.
  • When singing "the halftime air was sweet perfume", accent "sweet" (swEEEt) and reach into the air.
  • When singing "While The Sergeants played a marching tune", pretend to play a marching band instrument.
  • When singing "Oh, but we never got the chance", accent "oh" (OHH).
  • When singing "refused to yield" yell that line.
  • When signing "lost in space" wave hand into space, or point skyward.
  • When singing about Jack Flash, "Jack" and (usually) "Satan" act out the part with a glow stick.
  • When singing about the devil and the fire, a person wearing red for the fire and "Satan" act in an amiable manner. Alternatively, Satan caresses/deepthroats a glow stick (hopefully red, as available)
  • During the "fists of rage" part, the line is shouted and fists are shaken in the air.
  • After singing "no angel born in hell," raise for index finger and yell "Not even one!"
  • (Session 1 only) When singing "the flames climb high into the night", the fire is carried piggyback (or lifted), or the motion is simply acted out by Satan (and everyone else).
  • When singing "to light the sacrificial right", the person designated as the "sacrificial right" lies down and is "lit" (glow stick) by everyone.
  • When singing "Satan laughing with delight", Satan supplies maniacal laughter.
  • At "smiled and turned away" people smile dejectedly and turn away, quickly returning to the large circle.
  • After the "sacred store" line, everyone yells "Turkey Hill!"
  • After the "And in the streets the children screamed" everyone scream.
  • After "but not a word was spoken" say "Not A Word" or "shhhhh".
  • After the "The church bells all were broken" say 'Clang!'
  • After "three men I admired most," someone shouts "Crosby, Stills, and Nash", or alternatively, "Larry, Moe, & Curly."
    • Or, even better, "Pomm, Timmer, and Adam Roush."
      • It has also been recently suggested that the three names to be shouted out should be the ones of the CTY Holy Trinity.
  • After "the father, son, and the holy ghost," many shout "Casper!"
  • After "...they caught the last train for the coast," everyone shouts "LA sucks!" and then, usually in retaliation by LA students (though some people yell both), "So does New Jersey!"
  • After the "This'll be the day that I die" at the very end, RAs shout "Go home! Nobody loves you!" Students (and instructional staff) respond, "We love you!" and students then jog/run/skip to the second lamppost in front of Thomas for The Afterdance

Artifacts

  • The Jester's Garments: These were introduced long ago and are shared between sessions (although in 2007, the reigning Jester of Session Two did not send the coat and hat to Session One). The hat is a regular Jester's hat (with the bells and everything), the coat is a plaid jacket of some sort. The hat was originally Ken Levin's.
  • Glowsticks: These are used for the verse which starts out "And then we were all in one place." They are ordinary glowsticks, generally borrowed from a raver and not passed down. They are used to represent candles for Jack Flash and for the sacrificial rite, as well as by Satan to represent fire. Glowsticks are often inserted by Satan into a variety of her orifices.
  • The Thorny Crown: For Session Two The Thorny Crown, worn by the King, can be any hat so long as the Jester can steal it. It has often been the Duct Tape Hat. For Session One, starting 2007, the Thorny Crown is actually a wreath made out of grape stems and purple duck tape. The King does not necessarily pass it down but borrows it for the purposes of acting out the scene (In 2007, Zev was the wearer of the Thorny Crown but David Federman, who was the king, used it for American Pie).

Positions

  • The King and Queen: Two people are chosen to represent the king and queen mentioned in the third verse. The King looks down and has his crown stolen.
  • The Jester: A position passed down generation to generation, the Jester is a nomore and bears the artifacts mentioned above. The Jester is the only character who has parts in multiple verses; in the third the jester entertains the King and Queen and then steals the Thorny Crown, and in the fourth displays that they have a broken bone (almost always the leg; this is represented by holding said leg up and hopping around)


  • The Players: A position which has since died, the players try to take the field and the person chosen runs across the circle.
  • Jack Flash: Jack Flash is a reference to Jumpin' Jack Flash a song by The Rolling Stones and is mentioned in the song. Jack Flash is chosen during the session and simply sits on a glowstick during the fifth verse.
  • Fire: A Session One position usually decided during the session. Fire acts as the devil's only friend in the proper line of the song. Fire is also lifted up in the verse "the flames climbed high into the night". Fire usually wears red to the dances, or some attire to indicate fire; however, this is not required.
  • The Sacrificial Rite: Someone is selected to this position and lies down in the circle during the proper verse, the rest of the participants light them with imaginary torches. Satan uses a glowstick.
  • Satan- This position is affiliated with the Satan of Session Two and recently has been passed down for Session One as well. Satan has several roles, but they are different depending on the session. During First Session, Satan must be friends with Fire. During Second Session, Satan lights the sacrificial rite with a glowstick, holds the candlestick for Jack Flash, and inserts a glowstick into some orifice as the flames climb high into the night. During both sessions, Satan is to laugh manically when "Satan laughing with delight" is heard.

Carlisle

  • The whole camp linking arms in a giant circle and swaying and kicking alternate feet during the first and last verses.. The Dean of Residential life yells out which foot to start with. Then the name is repeated and which foot. ("Right Foot! "Lesa says Right Foot!")(People leaving CTY stay in smaller circles in the center. After the dance, those in the center chant where and when "Passionfruit" will be)
  • Clapping hands once and then twice on the offbeats of the pre-choruses.
  • Waving hands in the air during the chorus.
  • Shaking fists and yelling at the line "[My hands were clenched in] fists of rage."
  • ^^The same applies for "refused to yield" and "lost in space".
  • "sweet perfume" is said, well, sweetly.
  • "falling fast" - the fast has an elongated a, with a crescendo.
  • Screaming after the line "And in the streets, the children screamed."
  • After the line "This will be the day that I die" every chants "Die, die, die, die. Live, live, live, live. Sex, sex, sex, sex. More, more, more, more." (This is called "callbacks"(for obvious reasons)). (Yelling "Orgy!" is strictly forbidden since 2006, where many past-Lancaster students yelled it)
  • After the line "They caught the last train for the coast" people yell "East Coast", though people from the west coast yell "West Coast"
  • After "the father, son, and holy ghost", one yells "Casper!"
  • After "the church bells all were broken", one can yell "ding-dong", but Bret will mock you behind your back for doing so, because broken bells don't ring.

Siena

  • The whole camp linking arms in a giant circle and swaying and kicking alternate feet during the first and last verses. ("Brett says right foot!" <- The Dean of Residential Life decides the great existential quandary of our time: left or right foot first?)
  • Clapping hands once and then twice on the offbeats of the pre-choruses.
  • Waving hands in the air during the chorus.
  • Shaking fists and yelling at the line "[My hands were clenched in] fists of rage."
  • Screaming after the line "And in the streets, the children screamed."
  • Not chanting after "This will be the day that I die." (This is because at a previous year, a CTYer committed suicide during a dance, and to chant "die die die" is seen as very disrespectful).
    • There is an interesting problem with this tradition. It had previously been the exception, not the rule, to follow it. However, at least since 2006, those who knew what to do were eclipsed by those that did not, despite numerous attempts to remedy the problem.
  • After the "The church bells all were broken" say a broken "Ding-dong!"
  • During the line "You both kicked off your shoes" everyone takes off their shoes.

Saratoga Springs

  • The first verse and last verse are sung in a giant circle.
  • After the line "This will be the day that I die" everybody chants "Die, die, die, die. Live, live, live, live. Sex, sex, sex, sex. More, more, more, more."
  • If people yell "Orgy" after "Die die die die live live live live sex sex sex sex more more more more" People reply with "Fu-- that Lancaster Sh--" or just "*@#% that" in general opposition created by Ben Loffredo and Edwin Ma (Session 1 2006) and the Notorious Sex (Session 2).
  • During the line "You both kicked off your shoes" everyone kicks off their shoes.
  • Screaming after the line "And in the streets, the children screamed."
  • After the line "The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost," everyone yells "and Jon Good!"
  • Clapping hands once and then twice on the offbeats of the pre-choruses.
  • Pump your hands and scream "Fists of rage"
  • On the last dance the nevermores all get their own circle
  • During the circle, you kick with your left foot first.
  • Session 1 - after the chorus during the large circles everyone runs into the center.

It is also worth noting that Don McLean wrote and first performed the song "American Pie" in the Cafe Lena in the city of Saratoga Springs.

Los Angeles

  • Everyone linking hands and kicking alternate feet during first and last verses
  • Massive charge towards the center at the end of the first verse and second last verses.
  • At the last dance, on the last verse, tiny circle of nevermores in the center, of swaying people with linked arms.
  • The phrase "Fists of Rage" is shouted, with fists being raised in the air.
  • At the end of the song, the RAs shout "Go Home! Nobody Loves You!" Student responses are varied.

(Recently, the RAs would shout GO HOME! and the students would respond NOBODY LOVES YOU!)

  • Clapping hands once and then twice on the offbeats of the pre-choruses.
  • After the line "This will be the day that I die" everyone chants "Die, die, die, die! Live, live, live, live! Sex, sex, sex, sex! More, more, more, more!"
  • At the 07.1 session a boy named Thomas who in previous years went to the Baltimore site began to yell ORGY after the last more and with his friends help it began to stick
  • Jumping during the chorus

Baltimore

  • Everyone linking hands and kicking alternate feet during first and second-last verses
  • Massive charge towards the center at the end of the first and second-last verses
  • After the line "This will be the day that I die" every chants "Die, die, die, die. Live, live, live, live. Sex, sex, sex, sex. More, more, more, more."
  • at 06.1 shouting ORGY at the end of the last more was added
  • Clapping hands once and then twice on the offbeats of the pre-choruses.
  • Scream "fists of rage" while holding one fist in the air

Hawaii

  • Hold hands in circle and kick alternate feet in first and last verses, and first chorus
  • Run towards center at end of first chorus
  • At the last dance, the nevermores form a circle in the center of the main circle
    • This becomes the center of the dance when everybody runs in
  • Sing loudly when in center
  • Scream "fists of rage" while holding both fists in the air
  • Scream after "... the children screamed"
  • Alternate single and double clap in pre-chorus (the day the music died)
  • Jump up and down during chorus, after "we started singing..."
  • After the line "This will be the day that I die" every chants "Die, die, die, live, live, live, sex, sex, sex, more, more, more."

Easton

  • Clapping hands once and then twice on the offbeats of the pre-choruses.
  • The whole camp linking arms in a giant circle and swaying and kicking alternate feet during the first and last verses. ("Right foot first!") (For the other verses, everyone runs into the center jumping up and down.)
  • After the line "This will be the day that I die" everyone chants "Die, die, die, die! Live, live, live, live! Sex, sex, sex, sex! More, more, more, more!" while shaking fists.
  • During the "fists of rage" part, the line is shouted and fists are shaken in the air.
  • After the "And in the streets the children screamed" everyone scream.
  • In 07.1 CTYers started a trend of running into the center again for the last stanza, however much to the chagrin of nevermores and other returners, and so may not ultimately be adopted. In 07.2, The center run for the second time was done in the first two dances, however in the last dance, every one retreated back into the large ring with the nevermores remaining in the center as a tribute to the nevermores.

Bristol

  • After the line "This will be the day that I die" everyone chants "Die, die, die, die! Live, live, live, live! Sex, sex, sex, sex! More, more, more, more!" while shaking fists.
  • There are two center runs, once at the beginning of the second verse and before the final verse.

San Francisco State University

This site is a CTY Civic Leadership Institute site, which is supposedly a part of CTY. They refused to play American Pie as the last song at the dances.... until Teresa Frame and Allison Carniglia decided to change this. For the first dance, we met with the site director, Katrina, and she told us that "this isn't CTY". Sure, it's not as CTY-ish as regular CTY, but it could at least observe the primary tradition of all CTY-affiliated sites around the country. So we finally got Kat to change it for the first dance, but not for the last one... (it took several meetings, a petition, and much arguing)

Allison here- please, anyone who goes to CLI in the future, persevere and get Kat to change her mind... she doesn't understand what CTY means to all of us...

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