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'American Pie' And The Box Of Records A Father Left Behind08:20

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

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.

Copyright NPR 2016.

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