1 Vote

What does Don Maclean means by levy on his song,"American Pie".................... Drove my Chevy to the Levy, but the levy was dry? what is the exact meaning of levy?


  • Posted Oct 2, 2009
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  • and good old boys were drinking wiskey and rye.... - steveduck234 Nov 30, 2011 flag

15 Answers

7 Vote

A levee is simply a man-made embankment built to keep a river from overflowing its banks or to prevent ocean waves from washing into undesired areas.


  • It's levy - 00b83c38 Oct 2, 2009 flag
  • I've read the lyrics in several places and it's leevy. - Issabela Oct 2, 2009 flag
  • Right Izabela - but I think it "sounds" like "levy". - ian-hill Oct 2, 2009 flag
  • Keep reading - I drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry ... this is certainly nothing to do with taxes but with water overflowing. - Lector_Const Nov 28, 2011 flag
5 Vote

Izabela has it correct. Levees are very common next to the Mississipi River as the water level for the river is higher than the land in some places. When the hurricane hit that area a few years ago, the levees were unable to contain the water and lower Mississipi and especially New Orleans were innundated with water.

2 Vote

I have to go with Izabela. I think it should be "levee" and not "levy".

A side note: does anyone else think that this song goes on -- and on -- and on -- and on? But it is a classic and has stood the test of time.

  • levee is what makes sense in the context but it is spelled levy and if you read the link I gave Gus it expresses more the idea of levy than levee. - 00b83c38 Oct 2, 2009 flag
  • And how do you know that all the sites where they say "leevy" have the incorrect version? Especially if: 1) most of them says "leevy", 2) it makes sense. - Issabela Oct 2, 2009 flag
  • I'm talking about the explanation the article gives. it leans more towards the idea of levy than levee. - 00b83c38 Oct 2, 2009 flag
2 Vote

I guess you could try songfacts.com

I'm not sure how much of what is written there is fact and how much is fiction (or opinion) but there are a couple of entries stating that "The Levee" was the name of a bar.

On his own website Don McLean is quoted as saying "[The lyrics] are beyond analysis. They’re poetry".

2 Vote

I got a Chevy as my avatar, but I'm surely not driving it towards a levy that's dry. grin

1 Vote

I think it has something to do with funds, revenue or taxes. Check this out amybe you can figure it out.

link text

1 Vote

Levy--- tax, duty,charge, toil, tariff, charge

  • That is what "levy" means but it makes no sense to speak of "driving to the levy" anymore than "I walked to the sales tax." - samdie Oct 2, 2009 flag
  • Possibly not, but I absolutely LOVE the idea of walking to the sales tax. What a great poetic image! gracias! - miloszdom Oct 16, 2009 flag
1 Vote

Here are the lyrics from the web (note "levee"):

So bye-bye, miss american pie.

Drove my chevy to the levee,

But the levee was dry.

1 Vote

It sounds like "levy" because it has to rhyme with "Chevy" but this "levee" in the song means a "drinking place" - whisky and rye

  • The song does not use a capital "L" in levee. - Daniel Oct 2, 2009 flag
  • I know it doesn't - so what? - if you will excuse the question. - ian-hill Oct 2, 2009 flag
  • I just made it into a lower case one - hope you are happy. - ian-hill Oct 2, 2009 flag
  • They just want to argue. - 00b83c38 Oct 2, 2009 flag
  • In standard Ameerican, "levy" and "levee" are pronounced the same. - samdie Oct 2, 2009 flag
1 Vote

the lev i is a bar in levitown NY on long island, so there

1 Vote

I thought "American Pie" was a movie?

1 Vote

The song came first.

1 Vote

If anyone is interested, here is an interesting interpretation of this song.

American Pie Interpretation

And here is another about the connection of the song to Buddy Holly that tends to lend credence to the first link

Don Mclean/Buddy Holly

After reading both of these, I would tend to agree that levee is used metaphorically and by saying that the levee was dry, Don Mclean is lamenting the loss of his idol and the source of his musical inspiration (just like the levee was where one would find water). The water drying up is a comment on how he feels about his inspiration being gone following the death of Buddy Holly.

1 Vote

"The Levee" was a bar on North Avenue in New Rochelle, NY, which is now called "Beachmont Tavern." The story is told that this bar was a hangout for Don McLean when he was a student at Iona Prep school in New Rochelle. "The Levee was dry" may refer to one of the many occasions when the Levee lost its liquor licence due to inadequate enforcement of liquor laws.

The "sacred store" was the House of Music in New Rochelle, and "the man there" who "said the music wouldn't play" was the proprietor, Mr. Fink.

0 Vote

Here is a news clip from the flooding and it mentions "leeves"

New Orleons Floods

  • levee - Izanoni1 Oct 16, 2009 flag
  • I think that that is the kind of levee that is referred to in the song, but I think that the levee going dry is used as a metaphor and not meant to be taken literally. - Izanoni1 Oct 16, 2009 flag
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