Bear Music #152

Posted by Flat Eric on
Category: Music41 Comments

There is nothing we love more here at Jammy Toast than listening to some of our favourite tunes. From time to time we will post a music video from an artist or genre that we think will be enjoyable to you; our friends. We often feature music that you may not have come across before, or music that maybe you just missed the first time around. Try and listen with an open mind, you never know, you may find something you can add to your iPod. If you have any music videos you would like us to feature then drop us a line – we are always happy to listen to requests but we cannot promise to feature everyone’s favourite

“At Seventeen” is a song by American singer-songwriter Janis Ian from her seventh studio album Between The Lines. Columbia released it in July 1975 as the second single from the album. Ian wrote the lyrics based on a The New York Times article and is about a social outcast in high school. Critics have regarded “At Seventeen” as a type of anthem. Despite her initial reluctance to perform the single live, Ian promoted it at various appearances and it has been included on compilation and live albums since.

The song received much praise which earned her the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and Grammy nominations for Record and Song of the Year. The single reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and has sold over a million copies. “At Seventeen” has been used frequently in television and films, including The Simpsons and Mean Girls; it has also been referenced in literature. Various recording artists and musicians, including Anita Kerr, Jann Arden and Celine Dion, have covered the song.

It was written by Janis Ian at the age of twenty-four and was inspired by a New York Times article about a young woman who believed her life would improve after a debutante ball and her subsequent disappointment when it did not. In the article the girl was eighteen, but Ian changed it to seventeen to fit with her samba guitar instrumental. She recalled feeling uncomfortable while writing “At Seventeen” because she had never experienced a homecoming or a prom. She said she purposefully took her time with the song to ensure it did not lose its “intensity”; she repeatedly stopped and started work on it over the course of three months. At the time, she was living with her mother.

Producer Brooks Arthur described the song as “just honest and straight from her heart”, and felt it was different from folk or pop music. He said Ian was easy to work with as she had prepared by bringing lyric sheets and arrangements to the studio sessions.

The lyrics focus on the conflict between cliques as represented by the contrast of “ravaged faces” and “clear-skinned smiles”. The song opens with the line “I learned the truth at seventeen that love was meant for beauty queens”. The narrator reveals in the third verse that she finds herself unattractive “Those of us with ravaged faces” but later provides a more hopeful outlook through an “Ugly Duckling” allusion; “Ugly duckling girls like me.” Ian said “The Ugly Duckling” lyric was partially inspired by Billie Holiday, who described her music as always containing a sense of hope. Ian had written the last verse “To those of us who knew the pain of valentines that never came” to connect with the listener. Other lyrics include: “…remained at home, Inventing lovers on the phone.” and “The valentines I never knew, the Friday night charades of youth.”

One critic described the song as “a moving and memorable appraisal of teenage loneliness.”

Janis Ian – At Seventeen

Janis Ian – At Seventeen

Don’t forget, if you have any music videos you would like us to feature in the future, drop us a line. We are always happy to listen to requests from others, we cannot promise to feature any but we will try our best to find the videos if we think others will enjoy.

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About the Author

Flat Eric

Flat Eric is a star of Levi’s commercials for Sta-Prest One Crease Denim Clothing. His name comes from an idea for a commercial that included having a car run over his head and flattening it. The idea was not used but the name stuck. Flat Eric rides with his friend Angel around California, evading the police as a wanted criminal.

41 Comments on “Bear Music #152”

  1. Hard to believe she could identify with this song in 1975. By then she had perfect skin and was very attractive so we can all see what happens to the ugly duckling in the end.

  2. Only a couple more gigs left on the “Love Is Dead” tour. Thank you to everyone who came out to see us play or listened to our records and special thanks to Razzi for his love. We are never not grateful for it! :heart:

  3. My human’s friend showed Dorothy how to use the new cat flap. I’ll never understand these humans. We have perfectly good doors on the veranda but they want us to squeeze through a tiny hole. Dorothy and I were not impressed.

    1. Then it was my turn to go through the cat flap. I’d already watched Dorothy do it so I knew what to do. My human said it reminded her of someone giving birth. I don’t know where she got that from. As I’ve said many times, she’s weird.

  4. “I love returning home in the dark, to see the lights of my house shining. Like astronauts feel returning from the moon, travelling through space towards a waiting world. Soon I will be home, part once more of the indoor world of light and warmth.”


  5. Rolf report Dec 2

    I’m always on the lookout for new Rolf-shaped places to sit & sleep in the house & my latest is the sink in the bathroom. It’s a tussle for control of the sink when my human wants to clean his teeth. Eventually I gave in & moved to the bathtub.

    Rolf x

  6. I am happy to announce that I will be returning to my Chief Mouser duties at the Foreign Office this week! New guidance – the Palmerston Protocols – will govern my care in the FCO to make sure it’s working for me.

    The Palmerston Protocols are:

    (1) No-one other than my carers should feed me – especially no treats!
    (2) Everyone should respect my personal space and allow me to lead interactions.
    (3) Palmerston HQ will house my bed, toys and food. I like privacy in Palmy HQ.
    (4) everyone should help to maintain the Palmerston Zone. The FCO is a very big, old building and I was finding it difficult to maintain a territory so large. My new Zone is much more manageable, and has lots of comfy seats for naps.

    The Palmerston Protocols are designed to ensure my welfare and happiness in the FCO. My care is under constant review by a dedicated team of voluntary carers, who will be monitoring whether the Palmerston Protocols work. Mice – watch out! I’m coming back!

  7. Before we mock children that still believe in Santa, remember there are grown ass adults in the UK that believe Borris when he tells them the NHS will not be sold X

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