Scents and sensibilities


This episode is sponsored by Intel not that you would open Photoshop and illustrator and every application on your computer at the same time just for fun. But you could with the eighth gen Intel core processor with Intel octane memory, you can push your computer to new limits. New computers with Intel opting memory are now faster and more responsive, which means you can open load and launch like never before. Learn more at Intel dot com slash you could. Three sixty I'm currently, and I'm sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I level of Thomas Jefferson's vegetable. Dr I'd like to have the roasted chicken based very well done is all about timing. I tried to get a little bit away from the actual subject. Must get sick place. Sixty with good Anderson. In the summer of nineteen Ninety-two, my friends, and I thought road movie on the streets of Singapore that was to become a kind of urban legend. That's filmmaker sandy Thanh narrating at the beginning of her terrific new documentary that movie was called shirkers. A word which means running away. Voiding responsibility. Dispense. In played the heroine. A sixteen year old killer named s. Her new documentary is kind of a making of film. But it's about that film that never got finished. And that's because right after her movie rap twenty six years ago, her director and mentor. A mysterious guy named George Cardona just disappeared along with every frame of film. Her doc is called shirkers same name as the original feature and earlier this year at one best directing award at the Sundance film festival, and it is now just rolling out on Netflix. When sandy Thanh came into studio three sixty I asked her how she became such a movie obsessive as a kid in Singapore in the nineteen eighties. I guess I would say Keanu Reeves was my gateway drug, so I handled the Saint film society into showing river's edge or something when I was fourteen and, but you know, I wind up staying in watching Fellini and Fellini eight and a half was was the thing. Kind of. Let me down another rabbit hole on and just barring enough then to allow me time to daydream, which is I think is really important for films for you as a teenager. So. So by the time you were born there, you could buy tapes right films. You could not it was very very difficult to look for movie. So you had to go across the causeway to Malaysia to look for pirated movies. And then I have a cousin in Florida. And so I had her, you know, rent the movies, I wanna see like a while tar and blue velvet things like that. And then she would put them all on this one VHS. But you know in those days you could take them at triple speeds. So there's like three movies on one tape. And then when you watch them when they arrive at your house because they tape that triple speed, they're kind of fuzzy and you watching them, and they're they have this kind of mythic religious quality to to them when you watch them as a teenager like after it's been shipped to your house, and you put it onto your VCR and watched it like a late night. And it's got this kind of. I don't know it has its on me. I guess movies did. But you seemed like I was gonna say one of the interesting things is describing these young teenage girls in Singapore. Being what seemed like the coolest punky is geeks in town, right? Yeah. The the the coolest punk is. Geeks in retrospect, you know, nobody was thinking we were. So there we would completely isolated. I was completely alone in my tastes in my pursuits. We small core friends who are all into the same thing. But then so you weren't glamorous. No, we were not glamorous. I mean, we seem like that now because nobody else was doing that. But back, then we were like, you know, there was nobody around like us, and we felt intensely lonely. And then I did a Zine called the exploding cat. Just so I could invent my own Internet Explorer cat when I was sixteen. It was meant to be a kind of a dot is Zine. But when you try to do Dada in nineteen Eighty-eight it winds up looking like a punk Zine. It wasn't. I wasn't really upon it. So there were no other sixteen donnas, but you and your friends in Singapore, Hannity. Yeah. Maybe just me and you wrote for an underground rock paper. I mean, it was a scene a bit. Yes. Most lean. Yeah. So not only do you watch a lotta movies. You you decide to take a filmmaking class? I assume this wasn't in highschool yet to go somewhere else to do this on this right after high on before college. And then that gap were anything can happen. It's so happened that in Saint this very strange man named George Cardona was giving Singapore's first ever sixteen millimeter film making class. Really? Yeah. So it's eighteen ninety two you're eighteen and having taken his millimeter film, making course, and hung out with him, and your friends decide you're gonna make a feature film. Yeah. I wrote this thing shirkers, I showed it to George the first draft, by the way in Jewish. Let's go out and do this. I mean, how many grownups in Saint bar? Are you gonna ever meet who who could have says that kind of thing who believes doesn't judge you? And and, you know, yell at you, which is what most grownups. Or used to doing and you go. Here's this forty something white guy who says he's American, but who knows and he loves the same arthouse indie films. You love. Did you look at him as wild. This dudes praising me insane. Let's go make a movie together. Fantastic. But did you think? Wow. What a what a sketchy curious character with a curious character, you know, like the optics as people would say wasn't great. He was my best friend. We would sit in his car for hours at night and just talking about movies. I'm just talking, and you know, like, nobody can understand that. But I I just thought the Bruce than apply. I mean, you you finally have found this this grownup who really was like a teenage girl I thought and one of us, and you know, and he was non-threatening. The best storyteller. I ever met to this day. I, you know, if if George Washington again and said, let's go make movie I would be like, okay. Let's do this again, you know, and that kind of thing where I don't think of him as villain. I think of him as a very strange friend, and his this friendship was both a gift and the curse. So making this movie talk about the logistics. I mean, you spent money in you had real cameras and Filmon and cast people. Yeah. It was it was micro budget because Sophian jasmine my friends managed to talk Kodak into getting us free film, sixteen millimeter film, those like oh just want to play which was trying to learn filmmaking. Do you have any spares to? And then we tried every tactic, you know, like, and then it's just like through stuff just to to, you know, send us away, and there was like frequent as well as jasmine measure get that I think, and then we still we hijacked buses we got those for free. And then we had this network of friends who are willing to work for free. And so like, a clever boy was thirteen years old on his history, teachers son, and you know, we have free labor and form of children. It was like, you know, Bugsy Malone like us just running around the island. Pulling off this crazy thing a hundred different actors in over one hundred locations. I mean, I listed down like all these places obsessed with like old bakeries railway tracks which I sat on. On almost got run over by train during one of the shots, and all these places that I knew will not stay for long because Saint was changing so quickly. I was going to school abroad. And every time I came home for the summer like everything was different. You're in college at the university of Canterbury. Yeah. And I just I just awful place. But I I just I just had to find a form in which I could, you know, capture everything for not just for us. But for everyone around us, we saw Singapore and very boring lighten, I enjoy tonight, just, you know, drove around always looking for interesting places, and and faces we well, it's interesting about Singapore. Because it seems the public intent of its presentation is so determinedly modern rigorous in straight ahead and straight up. Although despite all that it's a weird place, and you were trying to show. It's weird. Yeah. This is the counter narrative, and so you finished shooting great. We did it and wait to hear from George. What's going on what's going on? And and poof, you know, disappears. Disappears. I mean, really disappears forever. Yeah. I mean, it was it was a complicated thing of trying to track him down and things, you know, in those days the internet barely existed, we were three kids in three different cities in the world. I was in England jasmine was in New York. So he was all Galet college. Oh, going to call it. And he had splintered as we were no longer you could go after him. And you know, the thing is so George when he took the reels, and this might be a spoiler. But he kept them in his room and has houses of it was like a captive like a kidnapped person. It was like a part of me, I guess metaphorically speaking. So you left a black hole now lives, and I think one of the ways he creates George creates Bhai of leaving behind absences, you know, and he just wanted to be remembered by that black hole because it wasn't creative guy. He didn't create enough holes in and and people remember him through those holes so fast forward twenty years after this episode that had haunted you and and ruined. Friendships out of the blue the the the pieces of film suddenly show up on your doorstep. What were your emotions I was like I approached it with so much trepidation because I knew that as soon as they opened up these boxes they were like Pandora's boxes. They would just going to shut me down some kind of dark rabbit hole from which I might never emerge, and it might you know, you know, like, I would be obsessed with this thing. So I I knew I had to be ready before I could open up these boxes and look at them. And and so I didn't actually open those boxes for three years. And they sat my live wire. You're a nut. You didn't open them for three years. You don't say that in the documentary? I know because I mean, it's the that's such a digression, but I buried the lead. Wow. I just I just couldn't I was growing up. I I had a new life. And I knew that this thing which is oh suck me into the black hole. One. Here. We are here. We are talking about it. But did you immediately think you oughta turn the the whole story of the film into a documentary? No because I had to, you know, sixteen millimeter film was incredibly hard to see I do not have seen back. I didn't have the I have to take it to a Latin and Burbank, California to to get digitize. So I could look at it. And you have to get digitize if you're gonna do anything with it anyway, and I sat next to this colors than we worked on the criterion. Blu rays of Douglas Sirk movies. So you knew about color, and I wanted somebody who knew about color and his jaw dropped. And I thought okay, here's a stranger who knew nothing about the story knew nothing about Singapore. And just thought this footage itself. Was amazed does a head an artifact in a time cap. Yeah. And they didn't believe the almost believe me that this. This was like more than twenty years old because George wrapped every single real up in black plastic. The reels were pristine because he's a crazy feller. And you know, when we watched the footage tonight. I thought oh, you know, I had set aside. I'll vanity of see myself giving this horrible performance because here was like amazing production design that we all put together all these amazing places in faces, and and, you know, twenty five years later, so who cares that you're gone yet eighteen and and the grownups in the film that we cash that will giving amazing performances will, you know, would never be acknowledged as actors some of them thought they might have been actors. They had all the possible futures taken away from them. It wasn't just mine. It was everybody else's. And I thought you know, we had to do something about it. Because it wasn't just about me. Well, I I'm very glad you made it because it's excellent. Such a a one of a kind story of what in retrospect coulda shoulda. Maybe would have been the first arthouse indie film to come out of Singapore in the nineties right in might have been and we put this together. It would it would have been something. It would not have been a masterpiece would have been the risk taking little something. But again in the imagining, what could have been one could imagine, you know, some critic the village voicing this weird Singaporean movie and go look at this young genius. Well, yeah, I mean, maybe not young. Geez. But but they might have thought what an interesting odd thing. And and it would have changed. I mean, a lot of people other than me think that it might have changed. The course of Saint por cinema. Oh film history because people would have thought. Yeah. Let's go out and make something fun and take risks and you can do this. I mean, this is a bunch of kids with no, you know, no resources, and they just went out. And just did this thing you could have modeled that guerilla approach. Yeah. Yeah. And people might have had more fun and more of a sense of humor, which I think they saw. Early lack of the world, and is one of my friends. Philadelphia was film critic from that part of the world, you know, he said that could have been the moment we should have seized in Singapore. But in fact, the energy went off to the Philippines, and Indonesia, and they went up to make more interesting indie films, whereas Saint just did not as one sees all these scenes of this unmade unfinished potentially groundbreaking film from twenty five years ago. I thought it was Anderson is well, you know, not many years after you made your original film shirkers, his breakthrough film Rushmore came out, which is a kind of cinematic cousin young people bright colors, such you know, stylized shots that must've felt a little bitter. Sweet. I grew watching Rushmore, I just you know, the that emphasis on primary colors youthful heroes. The young person who has these these strange friendships with older people, you know, precautionary, I guess. What's the secret bag? Secret. Pretty figure it out. No, no, one could just got to find something you love to do. And then do the rest of your life. Me. It's going to rush. That's Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray in Wes Anderson's Rushmore from nineteen ninety eight. When there's watching the film. I was like oh my God. That's what we were going for that no-one to tell. Nobody would believe me. I would just sound so grandiose and that was really frustrating for me. And again when I saw ghost world that I felt the same thing was the same kind of palette of colors slightly offbeat humor. And and poker faced humor. You were like the luckiest guy in the world. Kill the have stuff like this place. I hadn't killed me. Oh, come on. What are you talking about where you think it's healthy to obsessively collect things can't connect with other people? So you fill your life with stuff just like all the rest of these pathetic collector losers. That's ghost world Thawra Birch and Steve shaming two thousand and one your film from a decade earlier is less realistic. But about this schoolgirl serial killer kind of a kindred. Indie comedy sensibility. Oh, yeah. Definitely. I mean, if it didn't have a sense of humor, it wouldn't be fun. And there's a kind of deadpan surrealism that I associate more with modern American Indian est. Yeah. Like Jarmusch, I think Josh is a big influence on. Well, like visually say an I wanna I to pause if we can't on Jarman. Who who who there is a kind of never belly laugh, but comic undertone his whole thing. What particular movies of his did you love, I think it was generally maybe there was a bit of the look of mystery train? And then there was you know, you know, some colors that this movie's brimming with like, bright colors and primary colors, and we were going for something vivid that was completely in opposition to steer all, you know, just gray Singapore, Saint of responsibility in school and business and offices. So there was a bit of John waters as well. A love the American indie aesthetic we were going through. We recently a friend of mine was friends with J Rabinovitz where I think at its dramas films, and he saw some of the footage and his jaw dropped because he thought there was some collective unconscious. You know, something that's going on where these kids in this. This very distant part of the world were doing something that kind of. Looked like they were trying for something that that people in America would doing at the same time, an alternate history that has been suppressed at least to me in to everybody about your friends, and you until now, but but it is like a like a weird natural experiment of global culture that there you were kidding in Singapore. Feeding off the same influences. I'd guys fumes or whatever as these directors in America at the turn of the century. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it really feels like that. Right. I mean does really feel like like that? Like, you you you are this experiment that there is such a thing as global zeitgeist. Yeah. Yeah. So you get the film back. You made this documentary? You had some kind of reunion with your friends mystery solve found out who George was Netflix show in this doc, it's good happy ending. Yeah. I think it's it's like that to me is like the stranger than fiction aspect of it. I mean, this is like one small little. Event in the smallest country in the world that happened in longtime ago on the strange little Abirin incident. And now this this story of this thing is going to be shown in the largest possible venue. I guess one hundred ninety five countries in twenty five languages like. I mean, how crazy is that like us kit in Bhutan who might be hurting his his goats wash this on his cell phone. I want people to see this thing and see that they can do this. I mean, no matter where they're from or small places, and you know, just to see this thing. I just find that. So surreal what a delight speaking with you. Oh, thank you so much. It was so fun. Oh, good. I'm glad you can watch Sandi Thom's documentaries shirkers on Netflix. Coming up. The novelist and perfumer funny. None Dini Islam walks me through the making of a scent based on Toni Morrison's novel beloved, I definitely walked away with wanting to create the sense of rain, mud, mother's milk blood. I try to resist upon but sorry sent and sensibilities. That's next on studio. Three sixty. Studio three sixty is brought to you by the platinum card from American Express. With the platinum card, you'll earn membership reward points on virtually all your purchases and turn those points into anything from nights out to flights away feel at home when you're far from home in over one thousand airport lounges worldwide. Let platinum help you find that hidden gem for a meal any food. He would treasure or sleep in explore or just relax for a few hours. More with guaranteed for PM late checkout and over one thousand fine hotels and resorts worldwide. That's the powerful backing of the platinum card from American Express don't live life without it. Terms apply to all benefits. Visit American Express dot com slash explore platinum. For more information, not that you would launch all the applications on your computer at the same time just for fun, but you could laptops running the eight Jin Intel core processor with Intel octane memory allow you to push your. Pewter to new limits with Intel obtain memory, everyday tasks or up to two point one times more responsive with all that power. The possibilities seem endless what are some of those possibilities. You ask how about launching big media, apps and content faster allowing you to create more in less time with the eighth gen Intel core processor, many of your everyday tasks or speeding up to like Email presentations, even your browser can launch faster with Intel octane memory, so not that you would store thirty two gigabytes of photos on your computer, then open them all at once. But you could don't believe it go to Intel dot com, you could now to learn more for more complete information about performance in benchmark results. Visit Intel dot com slash benchmarks. Did you threes sixty? Base notes are viscous would see long-lasting notes that tend to wear on the skin and stay on the skin. This is funny nine Dini Islam a perfumer and writer who like all writers and all artisanal perfumers lives in Brooklyn, New York. The heart note is basically the heart of the perfume, the the main story, and then for the the top you have the most volatile easily evaporated notes that invite you call you into the stories like the first flirtation into the story has published one well received novel, bright lines and is working on her second. But as a perfume Hershey, also concocts ephemeral stories of a kind for her fragrance and beauty business called high Wildflower, and we had heard that she recently experimentally merged those two parts of her life. Creating since scented candles, in fact, inspired by contemporary novels. We wanted to see and smell how that works how she transmits literature into a perfume. So we asked sunny if she'd create a literature inspired sent just for us and walk us through that process. You're probably familiar with the book, she picked Toni Morrison's nineteen eighty-seven Pulitzer prize winning novel beloved, one twenty four was bite full full of a baby's VIN. Women in the house, you knew it. And so did the children for years each put up with the spite in his own way. But by eighteen seventy three. Seth and her daughter Denver. It's only the. Adams beloved is a magical realist go stories that in Ohio after the civil war. It's about this former slave name. Seth her daughter Denver her long dead other daughter beloved in her complicated, past I went with funny to her apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. So I could watch and smell as she created this literary perfume. Jerry. We're sitting at a wooden table where thirty has dozens of glass bottles. They're tiny announce yourself piece some clear some dark Brown all with Black Caps, very old time apothecary. These are the concentrated since smells derived from flowers and trees and nature and some of them synthetic ones. Chemical recreations of pretty much any smell imaginable. I need to just get in my zone for once second. She's also got a stack of special paper strips that she uses to sample and sniff each sent each note as she says putting a drop of the liquid on one end of the paper. And then scribbling the name of that sent on the other end as she builds toward the perfume, she'll fan the strips out in her hand, adding new ones removing others and occasionally wave them under her nose to decide how they worked together. So with the this below. Loved sent how how do you begin? Do you? Did you read the book again? Oh, yeah. I wanted to read the book, I always have my little journals to write notes in. And I was just like I'm just going to write down what touches me. And that's it. And I literally just page after page of this old factory knows because I want to not just make this out of my own ideas. I mean, I think the ego needs to kind of disappear when you're making any work of art to let love in life ends. I was like I just wanna know what she had to say. As for the rest. She worked hard to remember his close to nothing as safe. Unfortunately, have brain Steve is she might be hurrying across a field running back to to get to the pump quickly. And Vince the camomile sat some. From her late. So the first note that popped out of page six was she might be hurrying across a field and absorb from the camomile on her legs on so I have camomile, and this is blue camomile and you'll see how blue it is. Because of the as you lean almost six block. So that sense of camomile is just so invigorating and intoxicating, but the sap you can smell the sappy Innis of it the sweetness of it's a honeyed before you wanna eat it like t so I wanted I. So that's one note that came up for me. It was there. The thing to send. Or the cherry gum and bark from which it was made nothing. As you're reading it Seth as really talented at making Inc. So I really wanted to kind of get into the more would see notes Inc would be made with like cherry. Gum oak. Bark like things that are really thick and viscous. So I have this blood red, cedar. You'll see how inky that is. And it's just like. Smells. Dangerous, it's fine. But it's like something that, you know, see that color would have skull-and-crossbone on the bottle. Yeah. Given the again, the nature the overall nature of the novel apart from individuals scenes of running into camomile do dooby did you begin? And do you begin by saying, oh ghostly things that go on in this novel? And we're you know, does that conform. The sense you choose to make it definitely walked away with wanting to create. The sense of rain, mud, mother's milk blood. So those are the notes so whatever makes it smell like those four things is the perfume. So that's where we're going. Already having a rainy, muddy earthy. I'll totally by that. Right. Yup. So now, let's go in a different direction. Suddenly, they was sweet home rolling rolling rolling out before is that. Although there was not a leaf on that volume. That did not make her want to screen it rolled itself out before shameless beauty. It never looked as terrible as it was. And it made a wonder if hell was a pretty place to. So I have some grass options so grass to me really Vokes sweet home where she had been enslaved by the garners. So I have sweet grass and this to me has that kind of nostalgia. We don't being the plantation. Yes has an established quality. Oh, yeah. That's a very I mean, this is the most completely pleasant scent. He you've wafted near me, and it's a hard note. So it's a little bit later. You have more space. Clause those harder base our top. Yeah. Oh. And then there's this one moment where her lover Seth his lover Paul Di he had kind of escaped into Delaware found this woman, the first black woman whose house he can get into and became lovers with her. Later. He saw pale cutting sheets into pillows in her bedroom. He had to wipe his eyes quickly quickly. So she would not see the thankful tears of a man's. I. Soiled grass mud shocking leaves? Hey, cobs sees you all that he'd slept on my cotton sheets at never cost his mind. Paul d describes the comfort of laying. And hey as only comfort he'd known before. He understood what it felt like to sleep in some cotton sheets. Just kind of interested in finding something. That would hint at that. Hey note because I think hey is a little bit more evocative as a sense. Oh, that's. Let's natural. It's hey, it's really, hey like. Then she did the magic lifted Cephas feet and legs and massage them until she cried, salt tears. That really for me when Amy Denver the white woman who I guess is an indentured servant. She basically rubbed seth's feet and makes her cry. And I was like, oh, the bomb of someone rubbing your feet when you're beaten and being chased by evil, white people, and you need sucker. And this woman is giving to this horrible woman who's kind of racist you giving it to you. It's really deep, you know. So I was like we need to have that moment. So tears I wanted to produce tears. So I have to accords accord means like accord, basically a combination. Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. Two to five this is salt clean. I don't really know. What makes it clean? I love it. And this is dry salt. They're not natural. They're aroma chemicals. Mrs sort of sweeter. What is it that? Once we did salt, clean salt, and this is dry salt. So. This is a little bit more dry on the nose. I had milk. She said I was pregnant with Denver, but I had milk for my baby girl. I hadn't stopped nursing are when I sit on a head with Howard and bugler. Anybody could smell me long before he saw me. It's very hard to. I mean, you can create Milkin recreate mother's milk. But I wanted to kind of bring a different spin to it. So that is jasmine lactone. So anytime there's the word lack dawn, obviously in an aroma chemical, there's a milky note, but it's with jasmine. So it's this milky, buttery wax. Jasmine, buttery waxy, I get that. This is a natural Islip called gamma dough deca lack dawn. Kind of fruity. Yeah. And a little buttery. And then the carnival is experienced that the three characters Seth Paul dean Denver have to kind of broker a peace accord between Paul dean Denver. So this scene. There's so many notes in in that section, you know, horse how liquor peppermint lemonades sweet bread. Honey, beeswax molasses taffy. I mean, that's all in a carnival. And when you go to a carnival, it does feel like that, you're candied apples funnel cake. So I think it it really is one of the moments of levity in the book. The happy. One was Paul d he said Howdy to everybody within twenty feet made fun of the weather, and what it was doing to him yelled back at the close. And was the first to smell doomed roses and yet this under note tone of rotten roses. The closer the roses got to death the louder the scent and everybody who attended the carnival associated with the stench of the rotten roses. It made them a little dizzy and very thirsty, but did nothing to extinguish the eagerness of colored people filing down the road. So good. It's like death is right there. So to me the artificial rose, which is not as good as the real rose. I think has that kind of like overly ripe rose sent where it's so good. It's disgusting. So that's a rose. That's really nice. Really nice. I just wear that myself. So this is the the one that really made me think okay carnival rotten roses. Okay. So this is well, why don't you smell anytime me? I just like to know what people think when they. It's more. It's I suppose cinema, knee and metallic. And I don't know. What is it? It's Honey accord, so this to me really draws into beloved when she comes back as the spoiler alert. Please read it today. It's her obsession with sweet stuff honeyed Ling's. So for me, Honey milk, you know, mother's milk. Honey, rose, that's the heart of the story. That's the beauty of this story. It's a mother daughter story. I wanted to incorporate African notes to pale mosh to the place where people were stolen from the notes that I have from Africa African bluegrass I want you to compare that to the sweet grassy American sweetgrass. Oh, God love all these graphs in. Hey, well, so that's like my way of creating a little accord with the sweetgrass to kind of bring American sweetgrass and the African bluegrass together. So then we take the salts and then you smell these three together. And you're going to like that too. Yes. Y'all feeling then you're getting excited and you're like, okay. This is a perfume. I'm feeling. Oh. So then we want to deepen this because it's a little to lighten bright. So then we want to get this blood, cedar. So you're getting this light bright grass salt, and it ends in this deep viscous like cedar. No. So then I'm going to add the mother's milk component me is building toward the first draft of her beloved perfume. She adds another sent to the group and smells, and then another and smells again until she's got about ten sticks. I think we got it. Okay. Hold it like that. And just smell it. She hands me the the bouquet of strips. I flicked them around under my nose. And yes, all those very distinct components do kind of miraculously coalesce into a cohesive complex sent that's our perfume for beloved. That's great. To me the most salient factor that I'm going after is. The energy of the book, which is go sleekness ascension, and to me rain, and mud and blood like going to the materials evokes that we as writers were always grappling with is this dead in pointless. You know? So I think of course, miss Morrison's work will never be dead in pointless. But does it live on in every capacity? So to me, this is like a heightened form of fan fiction, almost you know, it's just an Omayad too. Great Ness in a in a novel. But also like going sentence by sentence to extricate the most beautiful factory moments is like such a pleasure for me. You can find sunny, then Dini Islam's fragrances, candles and other products at high Wildflower dot com and her novel bright lines at booksellers excerpt from the audio book of beloved were read by Toni Morrison. Coming up. Long time ago. I can still remember how that music used to make me smile the song where everybody knows the words, but not many are sure what they need a thousand people can read the bible in. You'll get a thousand different opinions on what it means American pie thousand people can hear the song. You'll get a thousand different interpretations of what each line means Chevy's, levies and other components of Don mclean's American pie. That's next on studio. Three sixty s I couldn't take one most. Today's sponsor is babble the number one selling language learning up in the world. I took Spanish in high school, and I still speak. It just enough to get by when I'm on vacation in Spanish, speaking, countries and impress my wife, but I am not fluid which is why I'm excited to use babble for free. You can also learn French or talian or German or Russian or Swedish using Babbel's ten to fifteen minute lessons that can leave. You speaking in your new language within weeks. You can try babble for free. Go to babble dot com or download the app and try it for free. That's Babbel, B A B B E L dot com or download the app to try it for free babble dot com. Studio three sixty. It was nineteen seventy one when the basically unknown singer songwriter. Don McLean released his song American pie today. Forty seven years later. Everybody's still seems to know the words, but nobody seems to know what they're supposed to mean. Who is the gesture who saying for the king and Queen in a coat? He borrowed from James Dean, and what was it that touched him deep inside the day the music died to tell the story of that song and decode some of its mysteries. Our story begins by going straight to the source. I did not want to have a job where I had a boss that was my main goal in life. I just wanted to be free of anyone telling me what to do. My name is Don McLean. I'm singer in somewhere. I've never had any job. But as a paper in nineteen fifty nine when I opened those papers and saw that my man buddies Holly have been killed. I was very sensitive, and I carry this burden with me for a long long time. Long time ago. I can still remember how that music used to make me smile. Three young who saw the height them show business on the contract enrolled praise or kills a day in the crash of a light plane in Iowa snow flurry, the sinuous, Richie Vallon seventeen buddy. Holly twenty to j p Richardson known professionally as the big Bopper. Ury me. Shiver? Every pay deliver. We are craft chartered from league wire flying service crashed near Mason city. Ironically, the setting for the prominent musical the music man are small chartered plane crashed in the locally. Read about his widowed bride. Something touched me d inside the day the music. Travis hawley. You looked a lot like buddy was tall Texan. And he said, Don when I heard you a song I'd pull the car over and jumped for joy. And so everybody got the connection even though I didn't say anything between buddies death and American pie the idea of a thirteen year old kid seeing his hero die in a plane crash. That's something that people give way to I'm Raymond. I shock and the name of the book that I co edited with my father Ray shock is do you believe in rock and roll essays on Don mclean's American pie. So. Merrick in Padro mush Chevy to the living. The Levy was dry, then doodo boys would drink in whiskey. Seeing this will be the day that I. Be the day that. It tells the story of what happened to rock and roll from its beginnings in the late nineteen fifties. And how much the narrator? Don McLean, loved the music, and then how things developed over the nineteen sixties. And by the end of the nineteen sixties. He's disillusioned with where music has gone. It's America moving through a change from the black and white Eisenhower world into the more complex nineteen sixties and beyond the American pie was written recorded nineteen seventy-one. So it's right at the end of the nineteen sixties decade looking back. And all I remember back when things were simpler back when things were better look at the time period. There were a lot of things going on that did this Roger Kahn's book, boys. The summer that looked back at the Brooklyn Dodgers who left Brooklyn for LA in the late nineteen fifties that came out in nineteen seventy two special jump into your candy colored custom or you're screaming machine cruise downtown and catch a merry. Reckon graffiti movie American graffiti comes out in nineteen seventy three. Happy days shows up on television, nineteen seventy four this is the time where especially for that generation. They're looking back and saying we love this music. This is Merican as it gets. And American pie was a that really captured that what happened when American pie hit. It was a phenomenon as soon as the song came out people were asking what's it about songs? Too much with looking for things that you never wrote. Oh for sure people wanna find things anywhere. They can find people are searching for someone to lead them. What are the other things that Don McLean mentions? We know the buddy Holly references at the beginning of the song. And then it's okay now, given that what can this mean, what can this mean what was going on in one thousand nine hundred sixty three and nineteen sixty nine. Then looking at interviews with Don McLean, looking through liner notes looking through anything that might give a clue that could help fill in the gaps for what the song means. It was weird because it wasn't a press agent out saying. Is about buddy. Oh, you know. Who was I think every aspect of what I was thinking would actually be ought about. And dissect it and discussed and this has been going on for decades in an interview with Casey Kasem lead on that when he refers to the jester. King and cleaning. From James Dean voice that gain from the you. The gesture is Bob Dylan. The time the rain man last song, the me, I'm not city. And this is no place. I'm going point. He mentions the king. The king was looking down the test. This stole is thorny crown. The court was. Elvis the king. He hasn't got a thing. When he refers to the devil later on. Watched him mistake. My clinch tin. Being. That involves Altamont speedway in nineteen sixty nine and the Rolling Stones concert there and the violence that happened there where Hells Angels was providing security one man with killed and the idea that the hope of Woodstock that summer. It's over with all tomorrow. Probably the most dissecting lyric in the last verse when he talks about the father son, and Holy Ghost and the three men. The father son in the whole host. They caught the last chain. Coast today. Hundreds of theories out there. This is Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and John F Kennedy who had all been killed in the nineteen sixties ramblin, Jack, Elliot, Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. These were all significant influences on McLean. The other members of buddy Holly's band, the crickets all kinds of different views on that. You know, it's been the story of American pie for a lot of my life. That's the stuff. People wanna talk about. That's the song. People wanna talk about. But I don't hold it against them as gotten older, actually, it's become something and I'm thankful for because I'm seventy two years old. And you know, people still like something that I did. My name is Garth Brooks. I'm an entertainer that's kind of said loosely. Yes. When I first started playing music, probably college, you would close the bar down every night and uses the song would pick for everyone to sing along with the American pie. And so you just kept playing kept playing it. How long does it go? Well as recently as a week ago. I played American pie a thousand people can read the bible, and you'll get a thousand different opinions on what it means American pie thousand people can hear the song. You'll get a thousand different interpretations of what each line means. But we'll all agree on American pie is for some reason we love that saw we got to play a gig in central park for HBO in nineteen ninety seven. And then I thought it ended by asking Dhamma clean to come out and do American pie. It's a great honor the great privilege. Mr. Don McLean. When he walked out. Well, holy cow. This guy looked beautiful all in black. Those people aid it with a fork and spoon at easily put it in my top five greatest moments ever to be on stage. There have been very versions of the song. There have been various parodies of the song. Madonna didn't do a parody of it. But she did a version of the song. In nineteen ninety nine when Star Wars Episode one came out weird out Janka Vic did a version of the song called the saga begins on my. Iran and guy. Later Sunday later now Justice ball front. Home and kissed his, mommy goodbye. C going to be jed. It gives us a framework for telling epic tales in it's on the day. The nasdaq. National. Care. Pete. And they're very good. Very creative. Dotti Jackie's going be. Y'all. Jackie book, you so. Just for you, Jackie right. That he just ripped it off from American pie. The American pie guy written me off. That's actually what happens when a song becomes a folk song in wonderful blessing of my life. Some of my music has become folk music, and I don't think I could ask for any more than that. Day that. That's dawn McClain talking about his song American pie. We also heard from Raymond. I shock and Garth Brooks. That's where it was produced by Jimmy Cataldo and BMP audio American pie was recently inducted into the national recording registry by the library of congress, and you can hear dozens of other stores we've done about the important records in the national recording registry. Such as Gloria Gaynor's single. I will survive and George carlin's comedy album class clown. Those stories and many more are all on our website at studio three sixty dot org. Not a word was spoken. The church bells broken. And the three men at my most the father son in the whole host. They caught the last, and that's it for this episode studio. Three sixty is a production of PRI public radio international in association with slate. Our executive user is Jocelyn Gonzales. Our senior editor is into Adam Newman. Are sound engineer is Sandra Lopez months. Our producers are Lauren Hanson. Evan Chung Zoe Saunders. Fam- kim. Tommy bizarre areas. Our production assistant is Morgan Flannery. And I am Kurt Anderson. I don't think it's the villain. I think of him as a very strange friend. Thank you. Thank you very much for listening. Hey was singing. Miss american. Chevy to. It was. Boys. Drinking whisky. Sitting in this day today. Our public radio international next time on studio. Three sixty. We will sell no wine before its time. The public perception of late Orson is kind of a has been doing wine commercials. How those TV commercial gigs were funding Orson Welles unfinished final pattern project said as an actor by a prostitute. But as director remained virginal Oscar winning filmmaker Morgan nibble on Orson Welles next time on studio. Three sixty.

Coming up next