As long as I’m going on about the days of my youth…
I was flabbergasted by this piece in the WSJ over the weekend:
Earlier this month, one of the greatest mysteries in rock ’n’ roll was finally solved. The unnamed “king” and “jester on the sidelines” in Don McLean’s iconic 1971 song “American Pie” were revealed to be Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan, respectively….
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hang on! Greatest mysteries?
Who did not know, soon after the song’s release in the fall of 1971, that “the king” was Elvis and the “jester” was Dylan?
Nobody! At least, nobody who was old enough to take a consuming interest in listening to the radio and who had time on his hands to talk endlessly about such drivel. In other words, nobody who was in college then.
It’s hard to believe it even made headlines. Oh, I see why — McLean just sold the lyrics for $1.2 million. OK.
You know what? Now that I think back, I’m hard-pressed to explain how we knew all that stuff that we knew about the song. There were no social media. There was no Wikipedia. And mass media were firmly in the hands of the older generation, which didn’t care and didn’t engage such topics. Did we get it from DJs on the radio? From Rolling Stone? I don’t remember how we knew; we just did. Or thought we did, anyway…