(Dance in Uluwatu, Bali)
Do you believe in rock and roll? Can music save your mortal soul? And did you think you knew what American Pie really meant? If you did, then think again. Don McLean’s original manuscript – with all the handwritten notes intact – is up for grabs (for a million and a half dollars) today at Christie’s.
American Pie was the song of the twentieth century. It was our muse. Back in the day, we all knew the words by heart, but what really set the song apart had a lot to do with the fact that we weren’t so sure what the words really meant. Who broke all the church bells? Who was the jester who sang for the king and queen? Who was the king? And who was Miss American Pie? When asked time and again what American Pie really meant, McLean remained tightlipped. All he said was, “It means I don’t ever have to work again.”
But now, at the end of the day, quite literally at the end of the day, we are going to find out. We are going to find out what was revealed the day the music died.
I’m sitting at a bar halfway down Naked Lunch and high on Burroughs and then it dawns on me. There is no naked lunch, is there? A google search led me to a video of a very dapper Burroughs dining with a pale, bespectacled Andy Warhol and they are talking about chicken fried steak at the table, and suddenly I feel like I’m in the middle of an old Tarantino film like Pulp Fiction or Dog Day Afternoon, and the video ends. It ends with Nico singing Chelsea Girls at the Chelsea Hotel long after the rest of the Chelsea girls have died, and I feel gratified somehow that I stumbled upon these 8 minutes caught on film, and in that lies some of the beauty of Naked Lunch.
Maybe books are real, and we aren’t. Maybe all those characters are really people walking around in little book rooms in little book homes, thinking and breathing and touching, and you and I, we are the characters.