I was young when I heard the song, “American Pie,” by Don McLean, for the first time. For some reason, the following lyrics have always stuck in my mind:
“And the three men I admire most,
The Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
They caught the last train to the coast
The day the music died.”
My parents took me to church, but like I said, I was young. I really didn’t understand the lyrics. So, I asked my dad. He tried explaining the song was about the death of Elvis Presley and that he was, originally, a gospel singer. Don’t get me wrong, my dad taught me many truths in life, but he was also the source of such wisdom as:
- “Don’t swallow your gum, it’ll stay in your stomach for 7 years.” And…
- “Don’t cross your eyes. They’ll stick that way.”
So, as great a man as my dad is, he wasn’t always the ultimate source of wisdom.
It wasn’t until several years later that I’d come to understand the song, and its primary refrain, “the day the music died,” was about the day Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and J.P. Richardson were killed in a plane crash. We remember that fateful flight every February 3rd. Regretfully, they died in 1959, a couple of decades before I was born, but thanks to television recordings and records (which are making a comeback, so I won’t bother explaining them to people under 30), I know what they looked like and what they sounded like. Thanks to movies like The Buddy Holly Story and La Bamba, we know what at least two of their three lives were like.
Perhaps their greatest testament is their music… even to those of us who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, we know these songs. Let’s put it to the test:
- “You say you’re gonna leave, you know it’s a lie cause _____ __ ____ ____ _____ __ ____”
- “It’s so easy to ____ ___ _____, it’s so easy to ____ ___ _____”
- “Para bailar __ _____ se necessito una boca de gracia.” (You may not be used to seeing the Spanish)
- “Chantilly lace ___ __ _____ ____”
These songs were written over 60 years ago. They’ve been on the radio countless thousands of times, covered by dozens of other musicians, been in movies, wedding receptions and more. Although they’re no longer with us, their talents, their gifts have left an indelible mark on the world. They live on and will continue to do so.
Here’s the kicker; while we may not all have the gift of music, we’ve all been gifted with something… without exception. We all have a chance to leave an equally indelible mark for future generations to enjoy and build on. What’s your gift? Are you using it? What’s your eternal legacy going to be?