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Janis Ian: "At Seventeen" (video and lyrics)

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Heidi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 02:21 AM
Original message
Janis Ian: "At Seventeen" (video and lyrics)
Edited on Sun Oct-08-06 02:24 AM by Heidi
This is one of the most poignant songs ever written.

The video from 1976: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2IGt-3IBPI

The lyrics:

AT SEVENTEEN
(Janis Ian)
I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for beauty queens
and high school girls with clear skinned smiles
who married young and then retired
The valentines I never knew
The Friday night charades of youth
were spent on one more beautiful
At seventeen I learned the truth

And those of us with ravaged faces
lacking in the social graces
desperately remained at home
inventing lovers on the phone
who called to say come dance with me
and murmured vague obscenities
It isn't all it seems at seventeen

A brown eyed girl in hand me downs
whose name I never could pronounce
said Pity please the ones who serve
They only get what they deserve
The rich relationed hometown queen
marries into what she needs
with a guarantee of company
and haven for the elderly

Remember those who win the game
lose the love they sought to gain
in debentures of quality and dubious integrity
Their small-town eyes will gape at you
in dull surprise when payment due
exceeds accounts received at seventeen

To those of us who knew the pain
of valentines that never came
and those whose names were never called
when choosing sides for basketball
It was long ago and far away
The world was younger than today
when dreams were all they gave for free
to ugly duckling girls like me

We all play the game, and when we dare
we cheat ourselves at solitaire
Inventing lovers on the phone
Repenting other lives unknown
that call and say Come dance with me
and murmur vague obscenities
at ugly girls like me, at seventeen
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speedoo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 05:14 AM
Response to Original message
1. Thank you Heidi. It's certainly poignant, and IMO brilliant.
I have a lot of trouble thinking of a song that is as well written and performed. I can still remember when I first heard it.... where I was, what I was doing, who I was with. As clear as a bell. It had that kind of effect on me then and still does.

I hope I never forget the message it has for me.
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Heidi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 05:20 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Right on.
Edited on Sun Oct-08-06 05:20 AM by Heidi
I just burned a CD of woman-centered music for our nieces, 12- and 14-years old, and this song is one of the top three (along with "Respect" and "I Am Woman). :thumbsup:

My mom was the first person who ever played "At Seventeen" for me, during one of her, "No one make you feel this way unless you give them that power." I've got a great mom. :D
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speedoo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 05:29 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. There you go.
Your mom does seem like she's great, and you are evidently passing on her message. :applause: That gives me hope that maybe this world is not completely fucked up.

If you have the list of songs for that CD somewhere, I'd love to see it. Seems like a CD my daughter would like (me too!).
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Heidi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 05:32 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. I'll PM it to you when I'm finished with it.
How old is your daughter? :hi:
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speedoo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 05:41 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. Thanks!
She just turned 37! She is the light of my life and I happen to be enjoying her presence this weekend. :hug:
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wildhorses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 10:22 AM
Response to Reply #4
9. Hey Heidi, thanks for posting this...
Edited on Sun Oct-08-06 10:23 AM by wildhorses
would you mind to PM me the list also? sounds like it would make a good CD for my collection also.

:hug: :hi:
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Pool Hall Ace Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 09:35 AM
Response to Original message
6. This song hit the airwaves when I was a high school freshman.
I thought it really spoke to me. Thanks for posting. :hi:
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Crazy Dave Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 09:38 AM
Response to Original message
7. I'm eighteen.....
...and I don't know what I want
Eighteen I just don't know what I want
Eighteen I gotta get away
I gotta get out of this place
I'll go runnin' in outer space oh yeah

Was more my style ;)
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wildhorses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 10:21 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. what does it say about me, that I can relate to both of them?
:shrug:



so, I was weird :P
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Crazy Dave Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 11:40 AM
Response to Reply #8
10. What's it say about me?
I know the words to both songs after 30 years and it's been that long since I've even heard "At Seventeen"

Black Sabbath to Stravinsky, currently I've got the soundtrack from the second "Lord of The Rings" movie going with full-bass.

I'm all over the map :hi:
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wildhorses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 11:48 AM
Response to Reply #10
11. there was a map?
:P :hi:
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Crazy Dave Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 12:06 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. Yes but....
...it's against the "Manly-man Rules" to use one, admit when we need to, or stop and ask for directions.
I'm thinking of excuses now to justify my knowing the "At Seventeen" lyrics at the next Manly-man, NRA, NASCAR monthly meeting at the bowling alley in case any members read this thread.

:P :hi:
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wildhorses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 12:36 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. I'd offer to back you up...but, seeing as how I am a Grily-girl
I don't know if they would believe me...


but, having seen you and your wive's pic I wouldn't care what they said...

and if they are reading this thread chances are they have been freeped out and tombstoned and would not admit to ever being on here :rofl:
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wildhorses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 12:36 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. I'd offer to back you up...but, seeing as how I am a Girly-girl
Edited on Sun Oct-08-06 12:36 PM by wildhorses
I don't know if they would believe me...


but, having seen you and your wive's pic I wouldn't care what they said...

and if they are reading this thread chances are they have been freeped out and tombstoned and would not admit to ever being on here :rofl:
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Crazy Dave Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 04:52 PM
Response to Reply #15
19. A girly-girl and....
...a lady of ladies :hug:
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Heidi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 12:40 PM
Response to Reply #13
16. You don't need an excuse.
Edited on Sun Oct-08-06 12:40 PM by Heidi
Compassion for other living beings' suffering is a virtue and requires no apology. :hug:
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Crazy Dave Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 04:48 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. Hello Heidi
Just being silly again ;)

It would be more of an embarrassment (for me) to even be in a manly-man type club
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pitohui Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 04:56 PM
Response to Reply #7
21. me too dave
sitting around whining that i have bad skin and therefore can't get laid is just lame, while janis ian was whining other girls with acne were getting laid just fine
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Haole Girl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 12:01 PM
Response to Original message
12. I always did find that song painful to listen to.
Perhaps because I was rather like the "brown eyed girl in hand me downs." By luck or fate...I managed to struggle my way through...and got out of that horrible dark cloud by the time I entered college.
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Heidi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 12:42 PM
Response to Reply #12
17. Me, too, gf. Me, too.
I was a different one, too. :hug:
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pitohui Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 04:55 PM
Response to Original message
20. god i hate that song, always have
Edited on Sun Oct-08-06 04:58 PM by pitohui
she may be a nice lady but what a crappy, ugly song

bad enough to have bad skin but to wallow in self-pity too? half the teens in the country had bad skin then, it was pre-accutane days, get over yourself

progress does happen, i'm impressed how much more attractive and clear-skinned today's teens are, don't ever say technology never gave us nothing
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