Biochemistry Pie
(To the Tune of "American Pie")
Copyright 2007 Kevin Ahern

This is the longest set of lyrics I have written. It is one of the most popular Metabolic Melodies and has been downloaded thousands of times. Don McLean's "American Pie" is a classic song I have long enjoyed. It tells a rambling story in a most interesting way and I've long been intrigued by the style as well as the content. In the fall of 2007, I gave an exam to my biochemistry class that they absolutely BOMBED. Whereas the average on almost every exam I give is between about 60 and 75, the average on their first exam was 47. I take my teaching very seriously, so when an entire class does this poorly, I know I am partly responsible. I worked harder than usual with this group and was delighted at their performance by the end of the term. The rambling style of McLean's epic song seemed a natural fit for the rambling course of the term, so I sat down and put together the class story below. You can download Tim Karplus' wonderful recording of the song HERE.

A long nine weeks ago
I can still remember
How the lectures sometimes made me smile
I pushed myself to study lots
So I could fill my head with thoughts
And then I'd find the effort all worthwhile

But mid-term one, it left me jaded
I worried as exams were graded
Sad news came from Kevin
The average - forty seven

It was so bad I went in shock
I couldn't stand to hear the talk
Of Henderson and Hasselbalch
And bi-o-che-mis-try

So why why biochemistry why
Does percent misrepresent that
My attention is high?
And all the students have a rallying cry
Singin' I will be a studious guy
I will be a studious guy

Did you draw an alanine?
And can you titrate a histidine?
If you know its p-K-a
Now do you believe you'll have it made
If you can pull a decent grade
And can recitation lead me to an 'A'?

Well we learned that protein structure is
A bunch of pleats and helixes
True beauty to behold
Man I dig how proteins fold!

There are seniors in pre-pharmacy
Learning all that chromatography
Gel filtration / HPLC
For bi-o-che-mis-try

I started Singin'
Why why biochemistry why
Must performance be enormous for
My grade to be high?
And all the students have a rallying cry
Singin' I will be a studious guy
I will be a studious guy

Now for ten weeks we've been crammin' in
The fact that nuc-le-i have spin
But that's not all there is to see
There are six enzyme classes from EC
A cat-a-lytic triad three
And a voice that whispers Delta G

Oh, with enzymes there are lots of facts
Like low Kms and high Vmax
Some zymogens break down
If trypsin is around
And while Kevin lectured Milam Hall
His camera captured movies small
Sometimes they had no sound at all
In bi-o-che-mis-try

We were singing
Why why biochemistry why
Should I lament my last percent
If my incentive was high?
And all the students have a rallying cry
Singin' I will be a studious guy
I will be a studious guy

R state, T state metabolic soul mates
Protein forms that we appreciate
ATCase binding siiii----iiiites
They grab a C-T-P upright
The enzyme gets itself uptight
With aspartate on the sidelines out of sight

Then the stage was set for ex-am two
And some of us were feeling blue
I almost lost my nerve
Whoa, 'til I moved up on the curve
'cause my memory to me revealed
The answers that had been concealed
As if the key had been unsealed
For bi-o-che-mis-try

I'm always Singin'
Why why biochemistry why
Must a student be so prudent
Just to qua-a-lify?
And all the students have a rallying cry
Singin' I will be a studious guy
I will be a studious guy

(two stanzas skipped here)

We all pulled down the MP3s
And memorized the older keys
Then I just smiled and carried on
I went down to the class web site
To download ev-e-ry highlight
But the server said the pages were all gone

And in their rooms, the students stayed
The chemists crammed and the pre-meds prayed
There was no indecision
The end was in our vision
And the section that had made me fret
The questions for the problem set
I nailed them all without a sweat
In bi-o-che-mis-try

And I was Singin'
Bye bye biochemistry bye
You can debit all my credit
'Cause my grade is so high
And all the students have a rallying cry
Singin' there'll be a party tonight
There'll be a party tonight

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