A Funny Thing Happened When I Was Listening to “American Pie”

I was driving home from work a couple of days ago and the song “American Pie” by Don McLean came on – and I didn’t hit “next.” With my commutes being longer these days because of traffic delays, road construction along my favorite routes to and from work (argh) and numerous other annoyances, I figured – “Yeah, a longer song is fine right about now!” And since it’s also a fun song to sing along to and usually lifts my spirits, well…why not?

Singer Don McLean, whom my mother played quite frequently on her record player when I was a kid.

So there I was on my one of many “alternate” routes home from work and I was just singing along to the song – which always relaxes me – and had the windows down, because it was nice enough to do so. And I happened to be driving right next to the “training” grounds for the Eastern Michigan University Marching Band, while the band was practicing. And I just had to laugh…why? Are marching band people funny? Well, sort of – when they’re wearing the silly hats that usually include feathered plumes!

An old-timey drum major – whom you know is a drum major because he wears a different hat from his lessers!

No, I would not laugh at marching band kids! After all, I used to be one! And one of my uncles was actually a drum major and my grandmother played in a marching band – and a great aunt attended Interlochen Music Camp – which means I come from a long line of “band nerds!”

Me in my uniform, late 1980s

If you’ve bothered to read this far in this pointless blog, maybe you’re still wondering what could be so funny about “American Pie.” Well, right when I was driving by the marching band while in practice, this line came on:

‘Cause the players tried to take the field
The marching band refused to yield

It’s not often I laugh out loud while I’m by myself in the car (which I am convinced is a sign of insanity). But that is exactly what I did! And the story gets even better – later on, when I told my husband about this, he had his own anecdote to share. It so happens he used to live in an apartment near Central Michigan University’s marching band practice grounds. And one day, he had the audacity of taking a short cut through this field to campus while the band was practicing. And let’s just say the marching band refused to yield! A couple of them hollered at him for “breaking rank” during their practice.

Well, being a punk as he was, he said, “Well, from the looks of things, you could probably use more practice.”

The important thing was he learned his lesson – when the marching band refuses to yield, don’t test them! They are holding instruments that could also be used as weapons (oh how I used to fantasize about how I could dispatch a human with my saxophone)!

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