Friday, May 16, 2008

Video of Janis Ian Performing "At Seventeen" On The Very First Episode of SNL / Video of Howard Stern's Paradoy of The Song

Here is a clip of one of the most iconic songs of the 70's, a brilliantly composed song executed by one of the more underrated lyricists and vocalists of the 20th century. Lyrically, the song is one of the most strikingly personal and revealing in her career, clearly showcasing her talent as a song writer. The song is musically elegant in its simplicity, yet embodies one of the more sophisticated vocal styling in the business.

This clip of her most successful single "At Seventeen," was released in 1975, it was a bittersweet commentary on adolescent cruelty and teenage angst, as reflected upon from the maturity of adulthood. "At Seventeen" received acclaim from record buyers — it charted at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart — and critics, as it won the 1975 Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, beating out the likes of Linda Ronstadt, Olivia Newton-John and Helen Reddy. Ian performed "At Seventeen" as a musical guest on the very first episode of Saturday Night Live in October 1975. The song's parent album, Between the Lines, also hit #1 and earned a platinum certification for sales of one million copies. Another measure of her success is anecdotal - on Valentine's Day 1977, Ian received 461 Valentine cards, having indicated in the lyrics to "At Seventeen" that she never received any as a teenager.

Janis Ian performing "At Seventeen" on SNL (1975)

By 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...

So remember those who win the game
Lose the love they sought to gain
Indebitures 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 on, dance with me"
And murmur vague obscenities
At ugly girls like me, at seventeen...

Here is a funny parody of the song at the expense of Jerry Seinfeld. The song was written in response to Seinfeld's inappropriate relationship with a seventeen year old high school girl that began in the early 1990's.


Performed by Stern and Ian

An innocent with double Ds
He saw those breasts and flipped his lid
For a real young busty high school kid
A horny lonely TV geek
Her major jugs made Jerry weak
Can't he find girls his age to date?
She's seventeen and she's jail bait
He takes her out in New York town
That lovely girl and the TV clown
She's barely shed her training bra
She kisses lips for candy bars
Some nice guy you turned out to be
Did she sit upon you knee?
You shouldn't really grope for them
At seventeen
Her panties smell like a rose
Is Seinfeld just like Piscopo?
Seducing girls in a limousine
While his fans think that he's so damn clean
Fell for an old man from TV
Did her pubic hair grow in last week?
With fresh and firm and round butt cheeks
At seventeen
Can't he find some older dame?
Their private parts all look the same
Does he make her parents shout
When he sticks his tongue in her mouth?
Does he think that he's a stud?
He should drown in a frigging flood
For fooling with a girl
Who's seventeen
Now Jerry, I ask you, do you have a brain
When you see her do you make a stain
Can't he get an older girl
He's damn near old as Milton Berle
You're making such a spectacle
Thinking with your testicles
If you're gonna make some glue
You should date girls as old as you


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Dara Roberts February 4, 2015 at 7:50 PM  

I got to see and meet Janis in person last year! This song will always take me back to the night that I watched her perform this song live on stage. She still has the voice of an angel! Thanks so much for posting this!