Don_McLean_-_American_Pie_(album)_Coverart#6 – Don McLean – “American Pie” – (1971)

Many people consider this among the greatest songs ever written. It’s Don McLean’s biggest (but not only) hit. Most know that the song has strong allusions to the death of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper on their plane or “The Day The Music Died.” Aside from that, the song has a lot of references to other pop culture events in the 1960s. It’s timeless.

Madonna – “American Pie” – (2000)

Madonna didn’t win many friends among classic rock-types when she covered this classic song. And I’m certainly not going to sit here and defend it. She was coming down from the massive high that was Ray of Light and you can definitely hear it in this song. It was released as a single before Music – when her sound kind of changed again. It’s not the full eight plus minute version that Don McLean wrote and recorded in 1971. I don’t think it sounds like she’s going out of her way to butcher it – it’s actually kind of faithful, but with a dance-pop beat. Then again, you just don’t mess with the classics. Plus, she filmed the music video in London. Hey! It isn’t called British Pie. But it might as well have been – it could only muster #29 in the U.S. but it hit #1 in Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. and the European Hot 100. So there’s something to be said of its popularity at the time.