Janis Ian - At Seventeen - at 57 in 2008

Discussion in 'Music to Your Ears' started by Uncle Joe, Feb 7, 2015.

  1. Uncle Joe

    Uncle Joe Friend of Leo's

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    I met up with some old buddies the other night and got to talking about about a guy we knew well when we were not much older than seventeen. We were freshman in college. He is a very wealthy and famous man in some circles. I think it's taken a toll on our old friend, I'm sorry to say. Janis Ian captured the essence when she was just a young woman in 1976...

    So 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 fifty-three" I added.

    So I looked it up on YouTube and found my favorite version from Ian.

    This was a monster hit in 1976. I was a Clash fan at the time. Society's Child, Ian, was not my cup of tea, you could say. Others said worse. This from Stephen Holden of the New York Times and Rolling Stone, "Postadolescent sob sister...painstaking Rorschachs of bitter, humorless self-pity." Yikes. That's harsh even to a Clash fan's ears.

    In retrospect it's a great song. One of the best from the singer songwriters of the time. This version got to me though, all these years later. Poignant.

     
  2. getbent

    getbent Telefied Silver Supporter

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    I had one sister who was a cheerleader and super social (and pretty... uhmmm not intellectual) and another sister who was a designer and super hard worker and maybe MORE beautiful but definitely in the shadow of her older sister... and sometimes we'd spin the 45 of this song and phoebe snows 'poetry man' and even though I was much much younger, I know the agony she felt... or at maybe better said, I could see she was so sad about a lot of things...

    It all turned out more okay than not.... and she is a fabulous woman and is someone I admire... but when I hear that song... I ache for the girls who were made to feel bad or who did feel bad about their looks, not fitting in... funny, you loved the clash and they were all about alienation... and choosing rage and anger to express it...

    Ian's commentary is sober and cold and the same feelings and perceptions expressed a different way...

    I learned that song for my sister years ago and when we were visiting our folks, I broke it out just for her and she teared up and told me that song got her through some tough times...

    If we bathed in the more acceptable (to mostly male rock writers) anger and rage of punk to express our disenchantment and angst... Ian was a version of that rage and I could identify with that.
     
  3. Stubee

    Stubee Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    I saw Janis perform that song and a number of others when she headlined the Ann Arbor folk festival some years back. It was a wonderful performance. She is a tremendous singer/songwriter & guitarist.
     
  4. LeftyAl

    LeftyAl Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks, Uncle Joe ,for posting that .I haven't heard that song in a while. I just looked at earlier version of the song too. Brings back memories of the old days
     
  5. Uncle Joe

    Uncle Joe Friend of Leo's

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    I've learned it now in open tuning and drop C drop G capo 4th fret. She's a very good guitar player, no doubt. Thing is the song wears you down. Gets old. Great song. Better than most Dylan. Yes, it's a girl's song, but that's not it. It's like early Cat Stevens for me, by the time you have it down you don't want to play it anymore.

    Jim Croce is on the other side of this imaginary line.

    I hope this makes sense to somebody.
     
  6. Just-Jim

    Just-Jim Tele-Afflicted

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    Kind of depressing and beautiful at the same time. I like that version. Makes me want to try and learn the song.
     
  7. knopflerfan

    knopflerfan Tele-Afflicted

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    Uncle Joe - thanks for the link. Great, poignant song. Yes, I agree - Jim Croce is sorely missed.
     
  8. Newt522

    Newt522 TDPRI Member

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    Watching her SNL performance right now on the 40th anniversary thing. I remember seeing it when it first aired.
     
  9. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

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    Thanks for posting Uncle Joe. What a poignant song for many people.
    I wish more artists took such care in their compositions .
     
  10. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Great song from an era of many great folk rock artists of which Janis Ian was one and Croce and Stevens two more along with Harry Nilsson and Harry Chapin. Lots of great songs written in those years.
     
  11. shovelrider

    shovelrider Tele-Afflicted

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    SNL tonight was a repeat of the very first episode from 1975. Janis Ian performed At Seventeen.
     
  12. Uncle Joe

    Uncle Joe Friend of Leo's

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  13. Uncle Joe

    Uncle Joe Friend of Leo's

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    The SNL thing must have something to do with why this song suddenly jumped into my mind. It must have been playing somewhere a couple of weeks ago.
     
  14. Blazer

    Blazer Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I said this before but about ABBA, punk rock is about telling the raw unadulterated truth, which is also why The Clash on "Spanish Bombs" and Elvis Costello on "Oliver's Army" ape the ABBA sound.

    Because while bands like The Clash, The Buzzcocks and The Damned sang about getting angry with the government, unemployment, unwanted pregnancies, boredom and being angry with your girlfriend. ABBA were basically doing the same but their songs were about Divorce, moving away from the other, seeing how much it all affects the children, the fights, the suffering in silence because you want to keep up a brave face.


    Janis Ian, lyric wise is pure punk rock as were ABBA in a weird way.
     
  15. hekawi

    hekawi Poster Extraordinaire

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    always liked "Jesse" better. here's a recent version. sublime.

     
  16. Mike Eskimo

    Mike Eskimo Telefied Ad Free Member

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    But while it's happening ? This is Seventeen

     
  17. getbent

    getbent Telefied Silver Supporter

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    My favorite version of Jesse is by Joan Baez... man, that diamonds and rust record.... really stuck in my head for a long time..
     
  18. Colo Springs E

    Colo Springs E Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Great song, I even liked it back when it was released and I was a Zeppelin fan in junior high.

    I was a renaissance boy :)
     
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