The Annotated American Pie
Date: Fri, 4 Mar 94 12:50:47 PST
Subject: The Annotated American Pie
[I'm afraid this waxes a bit sophomoric, but you may find it interesting
Forwarded-by: Keith Bostic
Forwarded-by: JR Oldroyd <firstname.lastname@example.org>
From: email@example.com (Rich Kulawiec)
THE ANNOTATED AMERICAN PIE
This particularly enigmatic song has been discussed at least once a
year since Usenet had a newsgroup for discussing music. These
discussions frequently repeat themselves, but occasionally introduce
new information and new interpretations. Having tired of watching the
same process repeat itself for ten years, I've created this, the
annotated "American Pie".
This posting consists of: the lyrics to the song (left-justified) with
comments (indented); the chords, for those who'd like to tackle it;
some miscellaneous notes; and references. Comments are most welcome;
comments backed up with references are *very* welcome. I have attempted
to note where the interpretation is questionable.
The roots of this posting are in the "Great American Pie" Usenet
discussion of 1983; much of it comes from wombat's (the original
wombat, not me) posting in net.music on June 16, 1985. As Robert
Williams has pointed out to me, the entire song can be viewed as one
big projective test, so interpretations vary quite a bit. I've tried
to be inclusive while also indicating which ones I buy into and which
I don't; your mileage may vary.
AMERICAN PIE by Don McLean
The entire song is a tribute to Buddy Holly and a commentary on how
rock and roll changed in the years since his death. McLean seems to be
lamenting the lack of "danceable" music in rock and roll and (in part)
attributing that lack to the absence of Buddy Holly et. al.
(Verse 1) A long, long time ago...
"American Pie" reached #1 in the US in 1972, but the album
containing it was released in 1971. Buddy Holly died in 1959.
I can still remember how
That music used to make me smile.
And I knew if I had my chance,
That I could make those people dance,
And maybe they'd be happy for a while.
One of early rock and roll's functions was to provide dance music
for various social events. McLean recalls his desire to become a
musician playing that sort of music.
But February made me shiver,
Buddy Holly died on February 3, 1959 in a plane crash in Iowa
during a snowstorm.
With every paper I'd deliver,
Don McLean's only job besides being a full-time singer-songwriter
was being a paperboy.
Bad news on the doorstep...
I couldn't take one more step.
I can't remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
Holly's recent bride was pregnant when the crash took place; she
had a miscarriage shortly afterward.
But something touched me deep inside,
The day the music died.
The same plane crash that killed Buddy Holly also took the lives of
Richie Valens ("La Bamba") and The Big Bopper ("Chantilly
Lace"). Since all three were so prominent at the time, February 3,
1959 became known as "The Day The Music Died".
Bye bye Miss American Pie,
Don McLean dated a Miss America candidate during the
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ol' boys were drinkin whiskey and rye
Singing "This'll be the day that I die,
This'll be the day that I die."
One of Holly's hits was "That'll be the Day"; the chorus contains
the line "That'll be the day that I die".
Did you write the book of love,
"The Book of Love" by the Monotones; hit in 1958.
And do you have faith in God above,
If the Bible tells you so?
In 1955, Don Cornell did a song entitled "The Bible Tells Me
So". Rick Schubert pointed this out, and mentioned that he hadn't
heard the song, so it was kinda difficult to tell if it was what
McLean was referencing. Anyone know for sure? There's also an old
Sunday School song which goes: "Jesus loves me this I know, for the
Bible tells me so"
Now do you believe in rock 'n roll?
The Lovin' Spoonful had a hit in 1965 with John Sebastian's "Do you
Believe in Magic?". The song has the lines: "Do you believe in
magic" and "It's like trying to tell a stranger 'bout rock and
Can music save your mortal soul?
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?
Dancing slow was an important part of early rock and roll dance
events -- but declined in importance through the 60's as things
like psychedelia and the 10-minute guitar solo gained prominence.
Well I know you're in love with him
'Cause I saw you dancing in the gym
Back then, dancing was an expression of love, and carried a
connotation of committment. Dance partners were not so readily
exchanged as they would be later.
You both kicked off your shoes
A reference to the beloved "sock hop". (Street shoes tear up wooden
basketball floors, so dancers had to take off their shoes.)
Man, I dig those rhythm 'n' blues
Some history. Before the popularity of rock and roll, music, like
much else in the U. S., was highly segregated. The popular music of
black performers for largely black audiences was called, first,
"race music", later softened to rhythm and blues. In the early 50s,
as they were exposed to it through radio personalities such as
Allan Freed, white teenagers began listening, too. Starting around
1954, a number of songs from the rhythm and blues charts began
appearing on the overall popular charts as well, but usually in
cover versions by established white artists, (e. g. "Shake Rattle
and Roll", Joe Turner, covered by Bill Haley; "Sh-Boom", the
Chords, covered by the Crew-Cuts; "Sincerely", the Moonglows,
covered by the Mc Guire Sisters; Tweedle Dee, LaVerne Baker,
covered by Georgia Gibbs). By 1955, some of the rhythm and blues
artists, like Fats Domino and Little Richard were able to get
records on the overall pop charts. In 1956 Sun records added
elements of country and western to produce the kind of rock and
roll tradition that produced Buddy Holly. (Thanks to Barry
Schlesinger for this historical note. ---Rsk)
I was a lonely teenage broncin' buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
"A White Sport Coat (And a Pink Carnation)", was a hit for Marty
Robbins in 1957. The pickup truck has endured as a symbol of sexual
independence and potency, especially in a Texas context. (Also,
Jimmy Buffet does a song about "a white sport coat and a pink
crustacean". :-) )
But I knew that I was out of luck
The day the music died
I started singing...
Now for ten years we've been on our own
McLean was writing this song in the late 60's, about ten years
after the crash.
And moss grows fat on a rolling stone
It's unclear who the "rolling stone" is supposed to be. It could be
Dylan, since "Like a Rolling Stone" (1965) was his first major hit;
and since he was busy writing songs extolling the virtues of simple
love, family and contentment while staying at home (he didn't tour
from '66 to '74) and raking in the royalties. This was quite a
change from the earlier, angrier Dylan. The "rolling stone" could
also be Elvis, although I don't think he'd started to pork out by
the late sixties. It could refer to rock and rollers in general,
and the changes that had taken place in the business in the 60's,
especially the huge amounts of cash some of them were beginning to
make, and the relative stagnation that entered the music at the
same time. Or, perhaps it's a reference to the stagnation in rock
and roll. Or, finally, it could refer to the Rolling Stones
themselves; a lot of musicians were angry at the Stones for
"selling out". Howard Landman points out that John Foxx of Ultravox
was sufficiently miffed to write a song titled "Life At Rainbow's
End (For All The Tax Exiles On Main Street)". The Stones at one
point became citizens of some other country merely to save taxes.
But that's not how it used to be
When the jester sang for the King and Queen
The jester is Bob Dylan, as will become clear later. There are
several interpretations of king and queen: some think that Elvis
Presley is the king, which seems pretty obvious. The queen is said
to be either Connie Francis or Little Richard. But see the next
note. An alternate interpretation is that this refers to the
Kennedys -- the king and queen of "Camelot" -- who were present at
a Washington DC civil rights rally featuring Martin Luther
King. (There's a recording of Dylan performing at this rally.)
In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
In the movie "Rebel Without a Cause", James Dean has a red
windbreaker that holds symbolic meaning throughout the film (see
note at end). In one particularly intense scene, Dean lends his
coat to a guy who is shot and killed; Dean's father arrives, sees
the coat on the dead man, thinks it's Dean, and loses it. On the
cover of "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan", Dylan is wearing just such
as red windbreaker, and is posed in a street scene similar to one
shown in a well-known picture of James Dean. Bob Dylan played a
command performance for the Queen of England. He was *not* properly
attired, so perhaps this is a reference to his apparel.
And a voice that came from you and me
Bob Dylan's roots are in American folk music, with people like Pete
Seeger and Woody Guthrie. Folk music is by definition the music of
the masses, hence the "...came from you and me".
Oh, and while the King was looking down
The jester stole his thorny crown
This could be a reference to Elvis's decline and Dylan's
ascendance. (i.e. Presley is looking down from a height as Dylan
takes his place.) The thorny crown might be a reference to the
price of fame. Dylan has said that he wanted to be as famous as
Elvis, one of his early idols.
The courtroom was adjourned,
No verdict was returned.
This could be the trial of the Chicago Seven.
And while Lennon read a book on Marx,
Literally, John Lennon reading about Karl Marx; figuratively, the
introduction of radical politics into the music of the Beatles. (Of
course, he could be referring to Groucho Marx, but that doesn't
seem quite consistent with McLean's overall tone. On the other
hand, some of the wordplay in Lennon's lyrics and books is
reminiscint of Groucho.) The "Marx-Lennon" wordplay has also been
used by others, most notably the Firesign Theatre on the cover of
their album "How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not
Anywhere At All?" . Also, a famous French witticism was "Je suis
Marxiste, tendance Groucho."; "I'm a Marxist of the Groucho
The quartet practiced in the park
There are two schools of thought about this; the obvious one is the
Beatles playing in Shea Stadium, but note that the previous line
has John Lennon *doing something else at the same time*. This tends
to support the theory that this is a reference to the Weavers, who
were blacklisted during the McCarthy era. McLean had become friends
with Lee Hays of the Weavers in the early 60's while performing in
coffeehouses and clubs in upstate New York and New York City. He
was also well-acquainted with Pete Seeger; in fact, McLean, Seeger,
and others took a trip on the Hudson river singing anti-pollution
songs at one point. Seeger's LP "God Bless the Grass" contains many
of these songs.
And we sang dirges in the dark
A "dirge" is a funeral or mourning song, so perhaps this is meant
literally...or, perhaps, this is a reference to some of the new
"art rock" groups which played long pieces not meant for dancing.
The day the music died.
We were singing...
Helter Skelter in a summer swelter
"Helter Skelter" is a Beatles song which appears on the "white"
album. Charles Manson, claiming to have been "inspired" by the song
(through which he thought God and/or the devil were taking to him)
led his followers in the Tate-LaBianca murders. Is "summer swelter"
a reference to the "Summer of Love" or perhaps to the "long hot
summer" of Watts?
The birds flew off with the fallout shelter
Eight miles high and falling fast
The Byrd's "Eight Miles High" was on their late 1966 release "Fifth
Dimension". It was one of the first records to be widely banned
because of supposedly drug-oriented lyrics.
It landed foul on the grass
One of the Byrds was busted for possesion of marijuana.
The players tried for a forward pass
Obviously a football metaphor, but about what? It could be the
Rolling Stones, i.e. they were waiting for an opening which really
didn't happen until the Beatles broke up.
With the jester on the sidelines in a cast
On July 29, 1966, Dylan crashed his Triumph 55 motorcycle while
riding near his home in Woodstock, New York. He spent nine months
in seclusion while recuperating from the accident.
Now the halftime air was sweet perfume
Drugs, man. Well, now, wait a minute; that's probably too
obvious. It's possible that this line and the next few refer to the
1968 Democratic National Convention. The "sweet perfume" is
probably tear gas.
While sergeants played a marching tune
Following from the thought above, the sergeants would be the
Chicago Police and the Illinois National Guard, who marched the
protestors out of the park and into jail. Alternatively, this could
refer to the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". Or,
perhaps McLean refers to the Beatles' music in general as
"marching" because it's not music for dancing. Or, finally, the
"marching tune" could be the draft.
We all got up to dance
Oh, but we never got the chance
The Beatles' 1966 Candlestick Park concert only lasted 35
minutes. Or, following on from the previous comment, perhaps he
meant that there wasn't any music to dance to.
'Cause the players tried to take the field,
The marching band refused to yield.
Following on from the Chicago reference above, this could be
another comment on protests. If the players are the protestors at
Kent State, and the marching band the Ohio National Guard... This
could be a reference to the dominance of the Beatles on the rock
and roll scene. For instance, the Beach Boys released "Pet Sounds"
in 1966 -- an album which featured some of the same sort of studio
and electronic experimentation as "Sgt. Pepper" (1967) -- but the
album sold poorly. Some folks think this refers to either the 1968
Deomcratic Convention or Kent State. This might also be a comment
about how the dominance of the Beatles in the rock world led to
more "pop art" music, leading in turn to a dearth of traditional
rock and roll. Or finally, this might be a comment which follows up
on the earlier reference to the draft: the
government/military-industrial-complex establishment refused to
accede to the demands of the peace movement.
Do you recall what was revealed,
The day the music died?
We started singing
And there we were all in one place
A generation lost in space
Some people think this is a reference to the US space program,
which it might be; but that seems a bit too literal. Perhaps this
is a reference to hippies, who were sometimes known as the "lost
generation", partially because of their particularly acute
alientation from their parents, and partially because of their
presumed preoccupation with drugs. It could also be a reference to
the awful TV show, "Lost in Space", whose title was sometimes used
as a synonym for someone who was rather high... but I keep hoping
that McLean had better taste. :-)
With no time left to start again
The "lost generation" spent too much time being stoned, and had
wasted their lives? Or, perhaps, their preference for psychedelia
had pushed rock and roll so far from Holly's music that it couldn't
So come on Jack be nimble Jack be quick
Probably a reference to Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones; "Jumpin'
Jack Flash" was released in May, 1968.
Jack Flash sat on a candlestick
The Stones' Candlestick park concert? (unconfirmed)
'Cause fire is the devil's only friend
It's possible that this is a reference to the Grateful Dead's
"Friend of the Devil". An alternative interpretation of the last
four lines is that they may refer to Jack Kennedy and his quick
decisions during the Cuban Missile Crisis; the candlesticks/fire
refer to ICBMs and nuclear war.
And as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage
No angel born in hell
Could break that satan's spell
While playing a concert at the Altamont Speedway in 1968, the
Stones appointed members of the Hell's Angels to work security (on
the advice of the Grateful Dead). In the darkness near the front of
the stage, a young man named Meredith Hunter was beaten and stabbed
to death -- by the Angels. Public outcry that the song "Sympathy
for the Devil" had somehow incited the violence caused the Stones
to drop the song from their show for the next six years. This
incident is chronicled in the documentary film "Gimme
Shelter". It's also possible that McLean views the Stones as being
negatively inspired (remember, he had an extensive religious
background) by virtue of "Sympathy for the Devil", "Their Satanic
Majesties' Request" and so on. I find this a bit puzzling, since
the early Stones recorded a lot of "roots" rock and roll, including
Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away".
And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
The most likely interpretation is that McLean is still talking
about Altamont, and in particular Mick Jagger's prancing and posing
while it was happening. The sacrifice is Meredith Hunter, and the
bonfires around the area provide the flames. (It could be a
reference to Jimi Hendrix burning his Stratocaster at the Monterey
Pop Festival, but that was in 1967 and this verse is set in 1968.)
I saw satan laughing with delight
If the above is correct, then Satan would be Jagger.
The day the music died
He was singing...
I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away
Janis died of an accidental heroin overdose on October 4, 1970.
I went down to the sacred store
Where I'd heard the music years before
There are two interpretations of this: The "sacred store" was Bill
Graham's Fillmore West, one of the great rock and roll venues of
all time. Alternatively, this refers to record stores, and their
longtime (then discontinued) practice of allowing customers to
preview records in the store. (What year did the Fillmore West
close?) It could also refer to record stores as "sacred" because
this is where one goes to get "saved". (See above lyric "Can music
save your mortal soul?")
But the man there said the music wouldn't play
Perhaps he means that nobody is interested in hearing Buddy Holly
et.al.'s music? Or, as above, the discontinuation of the in-store
And in the streets the children screamed
"Flower children" being beaten by police and National Guard troops;
in particular, perhaps, the People's Park riots in Berkeley in 1969
The lovers cried and the poets dreamed
The trend towards psychedelic music in the 60's?
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken
It could be that the broken bells are the dead musicians: neither
can produce any more music.
And the three men I admire most
The Father Son and Holy Ghost
Holly, The Big Bopper, and Valens -- or -- Hank Williams, Presley
and Holly -- or -- JFK, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy -- or
-- or the Catholic aspects of the deity. McLean had attended
several Catholic schools.
They caught the last train for the coast
Could be a reference to wacky California religions, or could just
be a way of saying that they've left (or died -- western culture
often uses "went west" as a synonym for dying). Or, perhaps this is
a reference to the famous "God is Dead" headline in the New York
Times. David Cromwell has suggested that this is an oblique
reference to a line in Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade of Pale", but
I'm not sure I buy that; for one thing, all of McLean's musical
references are to much older "roots" rock and roll songs; and
secondly, I think it's more likely that this line shows up in both
songs simply because it's a common cultural metaphor.
The day the music died
This tends to support the conjecture that the "three men" were
Holly/Bopper/Valens, since this says that they left on the day the
And they were singing...
Chords to the song:
The song appears to be in G; the chords are:
Intro: G Bm/F# Em . Am . C .
Em . D . . .
G Bm/F# Em . Am . C .
Em . A . D . . .
Em . Am . Em . Am .
C G/B Am . C . D .
G Bm/F# Em . Am . C .
G Bm/F# Em . Am . D .
G . C . G . D .
Chorus: G . C . G . D .
G . C . G . D .
G . C . G . D .
Em . . . A . . . (all but
Em . . . D . . . last chorus)
C . D . G C G . (last chorus)
"Killing Me Softly With His Song", Roberta Flack's Grammy
Award-winning single of 1973, was written by Charles Gimble and Norman
Fox about McLean.
The Big Bopper's real name was J.P. Richardson. He was a DJ for a
Texas radio station who had one very big novelty hit, the very well
known "Chantilly Lace". There was a fourth person who was going to
ride the plane. There was room for three, ahd the fourth person lost
the toss -- or should I say won the toss. His name is Waylon
Jennings...and to this day he refuses to talk about the crash.
(Jennings was the bass player for Holly's band at the time. Some
people say that Holly had chartered the plane for his band, but that
Valens and/or Richardson was sick that night and asked to take the
place of the band members.)
About the "coat he borrowed from James Dean": James Dean's red
windbreaker is important throughout the film, not just at the end.
When he put it on, it meant that it was time to face the world, time
to do what he thought had to be done, and other melodramatic but
thoroughly enjoyable stuff like that. The week after the movie came
out, virtually every clothing store in the U.S. was sold out of red
windbreakers. Remember that Dean's impact was similar to Dylan's: both
were a symbol for the youth of their time, a reminder that they had
something to say and demanded to be listened to.
American Pie is supposed to be the name of the plane that crashed,
containing the three guys that died. (Reported by Ronald van Loon from
the discussion on American Pie, autumn 1991, on rec.music.folk)
Dan Stanley mentioned an interesting theory involving all of this;
roughly put, he figures that if Holly hadn't died, then we would not
have suffered through the Fabian/Pat Boone/et.al. era...and as a
consequence, we wouldn't have *needed* the Beatles -- Holly was moving
pop music away from the stereotypical boy/girl love lost/found lyrical
ideas, and was recording with unique instrumentation and
techniques...things that Beatles wouldn't try until about
1965. Perhaps Dylan would have stuck with the rock and roll he played
in high school, and the Byrds never would have created an amalgam of
Dylan songs and Beatle arrangements.
Lynn Gold tells me that "Life" magazine carried an annotated version
of American Pie when the song came out; does anybody have a copy?
Still other :-) notes:
Andrew Whitman brings a sense of perspective to all of this by noting:
>As to what they threw off the bridge, Bobbie Gentry once went on
>record with the statement that it was the mystery that made the song,
>and that the mystery would remain unsolved. Don McLean later used
>the same device to even greater success with "American Pie," which
>triggered a national obsession on figuring out the "real meaning" of
Well, probably not a national obsession, but certainly the life's work
of many talented scholars. According to the latest edition of the
"American Pie Historical Interpretive Digest" (APHID), noted McLean
historian Vincent Vandeman has postulated that cheezy country songs
may have played a much more prominent role in the epic composition
than had originally been thought. In particular, the "widowed bride,"
usually supposed to be either Ella Holly or Joan Rivers, may in fact
be Billie Jo. According to this radical exegesis, the "pink carnation"
of McLean's song is probably what was thrown off the Tallahatchie
Bridge, and was later found by the lonely, teenaged McLean as he
wandered drunkenly on the levee.
Of course, such a view poses problems. McLean vehemently denies any
knowledge of Choctaw Ridge, and any theory linking the two songs must
surely address this mysterious meeting place of Billie Jo and her
husband Billy Joe. Vandeman speculates that Choctaw Ridge may have
been the place McLean drove his Chevy after drinking whiskey and rye,
and that McLean may have been unaware of the name because of his foggy
mental state. Still, there appear to be many tenuous connections in
Vandeman's interpretation - Tammy Wynette as the girl who sang the
blues, the proposed affair between Wynette and Billie Joe which later
led to d-i-v-o-r-c-e and Billy Joe's suicide, the mysterious
whereabouts of George Jones, and why McLean insisted on driving a
Chevy to the levee instead of a more economical Japanese car.
My own view is that none of it makes much sense. Vandeman's theory is
intriguing, but it seems far more logical to hold to the traditional
interpretation of "American Pie" as an eschatological parable of
nuclear destruction and the rebirth of civilization on Alpha Centauri.
[ Thanks, Andrew. I'll take it under advisement. ;-) ---Rsk ]
- Billboard Book of Number One Hits, by Fred Bronson, Billboard, 1985.
- Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock and Soul, revised edition, by Irwin
Stambler, St. Martin's Press, 1989.
- Rock Chronicle, by Dan Formento, Delilah/Putnam, 1982.
- Rock Day by Day, by Steve Smith and the Diagram Group, Guiness
- Rock Topicon, by Dave Marsh, Sandra Choron and Debbie Geller,
Contemporary Books, 1984.
- Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, ed. by Jon Pareles and
Patricia Romanowski, Rolling Stone Press/Summit Books, 1983.
- Rolling Stone Record Guide, ed. by Dave Marsh with John Swenson,
Random House/Rolling Stone Press, 1979.
- The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage, by Todd Gitlin, Bantam
- Smiling Through the Apocalypse: Esquire's History of the Sixties,
ed. by Harold Hayes, Esquire Press, 1987.
- It was Twenty Years ago Today: An Anniversary Celebration of
1967, by Derek Taylor, Fireside, 1987.
- Don Wegeng mentioned that some of his comments came from an
interpretation broadcast by radio station WIFE (AM) in
Indianapolis, which was the most popular station in Indy when
American Pie was a hit.
Credits, in rough chronological order:
firstname.lastname@example.org (Ihor W. Slabicky)
email@example.com (Stephen Hull)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Dan O'Neill)
email@example.com (Sharon McBroom)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Terman)
email@example.com (Rich Kulawiec)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Tim Kennedy)
email@example.com (Rick Schubert)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Paul Maclauchlan)
email@example.com (Ronald van Loon)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Colleen Wirth)
email@example.com (Taed Nelson)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Barry Schlesinger)
Thomas.Sullivan@cs.cmu.edu (Tom Sullivan)
H.Edwards@massey.ac.nz (Howard Edwards)
email@example.com (Gerry Myerson)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Dave Hayes)
email@example.com (Robert L. Williams)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Elizabeth Gilliam)
email@example.com (Chris Sullivan)
firstname.lastname@example.org (David T. Pilkey)
Dan Stanley at Fitchburg State College (courtesy of
Timothy J. Stanley, email@example.com)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Lynn Gold)
email@example.com (Andrew J. Whitman)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Howard Landman)
email@example.com (Don Wegeng)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Al Stavely)
David (D.C.) Cromwell
1/20/92 Constructed from various old postings
1/27/92 Added comments from Usenetters on first draft
2/3/92 More comments folded in; reposted today, the
anniversary of The Day the Music Died
8/18/92 Added comments generated by the Februrary posting.
1/3/93 Caught up on lots of updates that have been languishing
in my inbound mail queue for months.
4/2/93 Rearranged much of the text, incorporated more feedback
from readers, and move the credits and history to the end.
© 1994 Peter Langston