The Day the Music Died: The Story of Don Mclean’s “American Pie” review – an unfocused look at an iconic song

July 19, 2022
Ricky Valero 0
Film Reviews, Paramount+, Streaming Service
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Summary

The Day the Music Died: The Story of Don Mclean’s “American Pie” has the same beats as other music documentaries but falls short of being anything that stood out on its own.

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3

Summary

The Day the Music Died: The Story of Don Mclean’s “American Pie” has the same beats as other music documentaries but falls short of being anything that stood out on its own.

Paramount+ documentary The Day the Music Died: The Story of Don Mclean’s “American Pie” will be released on July 19, 2022. 

One of my most anticipated documentaries is streaming on Paramount+ today in The Day the Music Died: The Story of Don Mclean’s “American Pie” which provides a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most iconic songs ever.

I was raised on older music when I was a young kid, from Elvis to Eagles to Chicago to Motown singers like Smoky Robinson, Diana Ross, and Lionel Richie. Like most fathers who are storytellers, every time American Pie hit the radio, he would tell us the story behind the song. So it’s crazy to fast forward 30 years and see a documentary come out.

The documentary opens with Garth Brooks saying, “this could be the greatest song of all time”. We follow with a montage of Brooks, John Mayer, and even a boxing match where people were singing the song. The history behind the song has so much meaning. One we know for sure is the opening bit mourns Mclean’s favorite singer Buddy Holly. But besides that, Mclean has been mum about the theories thrown out by others, including that one lyric about Bob Dylan dethroning Elvis or America post JFK shooting or even God and the Devil.

As the film progresses, it follows many of the same beats other music documentaries follow. First, you have a wide range of people talking about the importance of the song. (I give them massive credit for having Garth Brooks). Then you have the story of Mclean growing up, his rise, and his influences. Last, you had Mclean break down what inspired the song and even touch on some rumors about what the song was about.

Because it marches to the same beats, the documentary fails to stand out on its own. However, I also had quite a few issues with the film. First, the movie is incredibly messy with its storytelling. It’s chronologically all over the place. One moment we are learning about the foundation of the song. Next, we see Mclean singing with Garth Brooks in 1997 in Central Park. Then we strangely move to Mclean talking about the writing of the song. Because of that, the story is affected, the runtime takes a toll on you, and you lose interest.

Overall, unfortunately, the story’s lack of consistent focus and weird editing make The Day The Music Died: American Pie a good documentary that could’ve been great. Fans of the song will love it, and there is nothing wrong with that, but you can’t help but think about what could’ve been when the film ends.

What did you think of the Paramount+ documentary The Day the Music Died: The Story of Don Mclean’s “American Pie”? Comment below.

You can watch this documentary with a subscription to Paramount+.