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Mel Fisher Ostrowski played Don McLean's American Pie until she "learned every word." (Courtesy of the artist)

'American Pie' And The Box Of Records A Father Left Behind

by NPR Staff
Sep 7, 2012 (All Things Considered)

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Mel Fisher Ostrowski played Don McLean's American Pie until she "learned every word."

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This summer, All Things Considered has asked listeners and guests to share a personal memory of one song discovered through their parents' record collection.

NPR listener Mel Fisher Ostrowski wrote in to tell us about how Don McLean's "American Pie" helped her "bridge a gap between my long-deceased father and baby boy." Hear the radio version at the audio link above — and read a lightly edited version of Ostrowski's original letter to NPR below.

My mom and dad split for good reasons when I was very young. I never really knew who he was. My dad's record collection was left behind in a paper box.

As a girl, I would regularly thumb through the albums, feeling as though it were a conversation between the two of us. Don McLean's American Pie was my favorite. My dad's name was printed on the cover above McLean's patriotically painted "thumbs up" on a black strip, embossed from a label maker. I played that record until I learned every word. It was a way for me to connect to him. I still know all of the words, and I am just down from my son's room, where I rocked him back to sleep softly singing "American Pie" in his ear. I realize that this is a way for my own father to pass something on to my son. I am not sure I would have put these ideas together without your segment triggering the memories. Thank you for helping me find some peace.

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