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Janis Ian - 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

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by Anonymousreply 114Last Monday at 2:48 PM

damn, I just read this on her wikipedia:

[quote]"At the age of 16, Ian met comedian Bill Cosby backstage at a Smothers Brothers show where she was promoting "Society's Child". Since she was underage, she was accompanied by a chaperone while touring. After her set, Ian had been sleeping with her head on her chaperone's lap (an older female family friend). According to Ian in a 2015 interview, she was told by her then manager that Cosby had interpreted their interaction as "lesbian" and as a result "had made it his business" to warn other television shows that Ian wasn't "suitable family entertainment" and "shouldn't be on television" because of her sexuality, thus attempting to blacklist her.[7][8][9] Although Ian would later come out, she states that at the time of the encounter with Cosby she had only been kissed once, in broad daylight at summer camp."

Fuck Bill Cosby; a homophobic piece of shit as well.

by Anonymousreply 104/27/2021

The single most depressing song ever.

by Anonymousreply 204/27/2021

Bill Cosby is a fucking monster.

by Anonymousreply 304/27/2021

I always love this song. I felt that way too, until late in my 17th year I met my first bf and discovered the peen.

This ugly duckling became a garjus SWAN, bitches!

by Anonymousreply 404/27/2021

“Not Janis Ian, you idiot!!!! Janis Joplin!!!!!”

by Anonymousreply 504/27/2021

We all play the game, and when we dare, cheat ourselves at solitaire.

by Anonymousreply 604/27/2021

Love this song! Heartbreaking about Cosby, what a jerk!

by Anonymousreply 704/27/2021

Great, great song.

by Anonymousreply 804/27/2021

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

by Anonymousreply 904/29/2021

Love this song as well. I miss intelligent song lyrics. I miss real talent. We have no one like that now. They all look and sound like second rate strippers.

by Anonymousreply 1004/29/2021

Like a dagger through the heart.

by Anonymousreply 1104/29/2021

Most of her songs were super depressing, music to slit your wrists by.

by Anonymousreply 1204/29/2021

^ fuck yeah!

by Anonymousreply 1304/29/2021

Depressing? Maybe.

But it helped to know you weren’t alone in your feelings and there were plenty of other “ugly ducklings” like you out there.

by Anonymousreply 1404/29/2021

A great song, and a total gay anthem.

I also really love Celine’s cover version.

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by Anonymousreply 1504/29/2021

I first heard Janis Ian her in the late '60s. Charles Pitts used to play "Society's Child" on his gay program on WBAI-FM in New York.

She grew up just a few miles away from me.

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by Anonymousreply 1604/29/2021

She still sounds good...and so nice to see she hasn't filled her face with plastic fillers or had everything nipped and tucked.

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by Anonymousreply 1704/29/2021

What a great song-lyrics, melody, performance.....I can remember pretending my girlfriend was on the phone....anything to hide being gay,

by Anonymousreply 1804/29/2021

I was with you, r18. Wish I could have held your hand.

by Anonymousreply 1904/29/2021

I've always thought that At Seventeen was probably the best song ever written, in terms of lyrics. It's really brilliant. And like the other poster upthread, I too miss intelligent lyrics. Now we have nothing but crap like WAP.

by Anonymousreply 2004/29/2021

I have a Janis Ian story. A few years ago when the gay games were in Cleveland, she must have been performing, and she was shopping at a local store in her free time. I was standing behind her at the register. She was wearing a baseball cap with her name on it. The cashier, probably about 20, asked her who Janis Ian was. Before she could answer I chimed in, "She's a singer...At Seventeen, Societies Child ?" She stared at me blankly and I started singing At Seventeen. Janis looked at me and asked if I was a fan of Janis Ians work (mind you this entire time, I am clueless about the fact it was her I was talking to) She smiled when I said yes and left. Now that I had that song on my mind, I went to play it when I got home and a current picture of her popped up. It was the woman in front of me at the store. I felt embarrassed that I didn't recognize her so I emailed her to apologize thinking it might have made her think nobody knew who she was. She responded to my surprise.

by Anonymousreply 2104/29/2021

love her song "fly too high" from the soundtrack of that movie "foxes" with jodie foster... great song that captures the l.a. at the time spirit of hope and despair, beauty and melancholy, connection and loneliness...

by Anonymousreply 2204/29/2021

Where on earth did you get Janis Ian's email address, R21?

by Anonymousreply 2304/29/2021

R23, she has a website with a "contact" link. Plus a facebook page.

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by Anonymousreply 2404/29/2021

I love you, r21.💖

by Anonymousreply 2504/29/2021

[quote]I've always thought that At Seventeen was probably the best song ever written, in terms of lyrics. It's really brilliant. And like the other poster upthread, I too miss intelligent lyrics. Now we have nothing but crap like WAP.

There were plenty of stupid dirty songs back then too.

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by Anonymousreply 2604/29/2021

A beautiful, deep, and profound song.

by Anonymousreply 2704/29/2021

The lyrics rival anything that Joni Mitchell has written.

by Anonymousreply 2804/29/2021

There's a deep yearning in her songs-Jesse, Tea and Sympathy, Lover;s Lullaby, Light a Light.....and she's by all accounts a mensch.

by Anonymousreply 2904/29/2021

She's such a good songwriter. And a good singer; her voice is very expressive. I read her memoir. Here's what she has to say about stardom:

"Let me tell you how I felt about fame at that point in my life. Fame was something you wanted before you grew up and out of it. Fame was something people worked all their lives to attain, then whines about ever after. From the bottom of an empty bank account, fame looked like a pretty silly goal, believe you me.

I'd allowed myself to drift in to obscurity, and I never regretted it. Not once. Not for an hour, a minute, a second. Not when I couldn't pay my electric bill. Not when I couldn't fly up to see my mother. I never regretted it, because when I had it in spades, it was killing me.

Imagine what it's like to be at the height of success. Not the cool parts, not the parts I've already talked about. The Underbelly, the part no one outside of the business thinks about. The part that starts to eat you alive, rips you away from the daily life that made you a writer in the first place.

Imagine living like this. You can't drive yourself, because of the liability; twice, people in other vehicles recognized you and deliberately tried to cause an accident so they could collect a settlement from your insurance company. You take limousines instead, and only with drivers you know, because you worry about being kidnapped and held for ransom (and you never quite trust that your record company would pay it.). You keep the windows up all the time, grateful that they're dark; you learned that lesson the hard way, when you left them down and two people immediately tried to jump in the back so they could be close to you.

You've finally got enough money to take your family nice restaurants, but they won't go out with you anymore because it always becomes a mob scene. You can't go shopping without attracting a crowd, they grab at you and your clothes until security comes and hauls you away in tears. And you keep thinking to yourself: This is what I wanted. This is what I worked for. But eventually, you realize that it really is an either/or scenario. You can be really, really famous and spend the rest of your life trying to stay on top, never having a life of your own. Or you can stop and wait for thing to return to normal.

I've stopped and I've never regretted it."

by Anonymousreply 3004/29/2021

I love you too, R32! ♥️

by Anonymousreply 3104/29/2021

Such a sad, depressing song, but also beautiful

by Anonymousreply 3204/29/2021

I love the song - almost typed I love the dong! (that, too)

by Anonymousreply 3304/29/2021

R15 OK I understand Celine is not a native English speaker but she pronounces the words to that song like she has a mouth full of mashed potatoes.

by Anonymousreply 3404/29/2021

I was seventeen at the time this song came over the radio. I was dumbfounded I wasn't the only one who felt so marginalized. I identified with it immediately. It brought an amazing amount of comfort.

by Anonymousreply 3504/29/2021

r30, I could understand what she wrote if she were A list or a rock star, but Janis Ian?

by Anonymousreply 3604/29/2021

Shady Acres

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by Anonymousreply 3704/29/2021

r36...In the 70s she was very popular. Her album that featured At Seventeen was the no 1 album for a while. Remember this was the had no social media, no internet, it was an accomplishment. She made a lot of tv appearances, so people knew who she was. That and concerts and radio were all there was back then. She also won a Grammy that year.

by Anonymousreply 3804/29/2021


by Anonymousreply 3904/29/2021

r5 you didn't let me down here, thank you.

by Anonymousreply 4004/29/2021

R40 It’s just me and my ganja.

by Anonymousreply 4104/29/2021

" I could understand what she wrote if she were A list or a rock star, but Janis Ian?"

Yes, that kind of amazed me. I never considered Janis Ian to be a singing star of major proportions although when her song "Society's Child" came out she was kind of a big deal due to the controversy of the song and her tender age. But she was mobbed when she went out? And people tried to throw themselves in her limo? If life was like that for her, can you imagine what it must have been like for Elvis Presley or the Beatles? Or David Bowie and Mick Jagger? Or Madonna or Whitney Houston or Prince? Was life really that much of a hell for them too? I don't know, maybe she was exaggerating.

by Anonymousreply 4204/29/2021

r40 bev...non-alcoholic beverage is out there!!!

by Anonymousreply 4304/29/2021

No R42 it’s not an exaggeration. I don’t blame her for bowing out of the limelight. I think it’s even more crazy now. The hardest part is staying on top.

by Anonymousreply 4404/29/2021

Did her name used to be Phoebe Snow?

by Anonymousreply 4504/29/2021

Janis Ian asked me for a bottle of water at a music festival about 15 years ago. I guess she thought I was a volunteer. I wasn’t, but I knew where to find one for her. She was very polite and also, very tiny.

by Anonymousreply 4604/29/2021

That song touched millions,if not tens of millions of people in a way no song has before or since. Who hasnt cried while listening to it ? Thats real beauty .

by Anonymousreply 4704/29/2021

At Seventeen isn't a "depressing" song, nor is it meant to be as Janis Ian stated at time and since.

"“I was sitting at Mum’s dining room table one day; she was at work and I was reading the New York Times magazine section and there was an article by a young woman about being a debutante. She said that she thought her coming out ball would solve everything. Suddenly, magically, she would meet a boy, get married, have a white picket fence and life would be perfect. The song started off then as ‘I learnt the truth at eighteen,’ and I had the guitar in my hand and I was playing this little figure in G with the capo on, I think I’d been listening to Astrid Gilberto that week. ’Eighteen’ didn’t scan so I changed it to, ‘I learned the truth at seventeen,’ and then it’s a logical thing to say, ‘That love was meant for beauty queens.’ The first verse is pretty logical – ‘High school girls with clear-skinned smiles,’ that was my own experience. I always thought if my skin would clear up then everything would be fine."

“The line that I love the most in that song is, ‘To ugly duckling girls like me.’ That wrapped the song up, ugly ducklings become swans, so maybe there’s a chance. Whenever people say to me that it’s a depressing song I say that they haven’t listened to it."

Remember gay community's response to rash of teen gays committing suicide a few years back? " It goes get better"? That's what "At Seventeen" is about, ugly ducklings grow up to be swans. Things may suck at 17 but you've got a whole lot more living to do, and life often does get better.

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by Anonymousreply 4804/30/2021

Now "Jesse" is just sad..... Is Jesse dead? Did he just leave her?

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by Anonymousreply 4904/30/2021

The song was played CONSTANTLY on the radio back then, when radio play was what mattered. I actually got so sick of it I’ve avoided it ever since. Maybe time to revisit.

by Anonymousreply 5004/30/2021

Another "Out of the Slough" listener here, r16. I used to put a transistor radio under my pillow and listen to Charles Pitts on the Saturday night overnight into Sunday.

by Anonymousreply 5104/30/2021

R49 i may be hallucinating but I think I once read “Jesse” is about Jesse Jackson? Could that possibly be? How?

by Anonymousreply 5204/30/2021

Tina Fey named Lizzie Caplan's character in Mean Girls after Janis because of this song.

by Anonymousreply 5304/30/2021

Janis Ian’s “Stars” is a beautiful song. Barbara Cook did a lovely cover of it.

by Anonymousreply 5404/30/2021


by Anonymousreply 5504/30/2021

[quote]I was MOLESTED!

Pics please.

by Anonymousreply 5604/30/2021

Janis is also a good sport! Here she is performing a parody of the song with Howard Stern.

The song was reworked to mock 90s-era Jerry Seinfeld, who was dating a teenager at the time.

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by Anonymousreply 5704/30/2021

Today’s youth reacts! 🙄

Do they even choose sides for basketball anymore?

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by Anonymousreply 5804/30/2021

[quote]The single most depressing song ever.

R2 It's a tie with Alone Again, Naturally

by Anonymousreply 5904/30/2021

^^I'd add Fast Car to the mix.

by Anonymousreply 6004/30/2021

@R59--I must love depressing songs because I bought this one too and played on repeat, lol. Love his lyrics, love his voice. Impressive song lyrics, in my humble opinion. Today's stripper/pole dancer songs are depressing. And insulting to music. Sigh...

by Anonymousreply 6104/30/2021

Miss Sheena Easton did a cover of this one that I really liked.

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by Anonymousreply 6204/30/2021

See how the young lady teared up ? Thats how powerful this song is. You cant fake that ,it either is or isnt.

by Anonymousreply 6304/30/2021

Miss Cook...

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by Anonymousreply 6404/30/2021

I keep hearing a Jacques Brel influence.

by Anonymousreply 6504/30/2021

R15 and R34

Janis Ian LOVED Celine Dion's cover of 'At Seventeen', and was thrilled she did it.

by Anonymousreply 6604/30/2021

Baez did a beautiful "Jesse" cover

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by Anonymousreply 6704/30/2021

I just listened to about 20 seconds of Celine Dion’s cover and immediately disliked her phrasing. “Clareskin smiles,” yuck. Sorry, not a fan of the accent.

by Anonymousreply 6804/30/2021

[quote] I keep hearing a Jacques Brel influence.

I heard it once when I was showering and heard Jacques Cousteau influences.

by Anonymousreply 6904/30/2021

I didn't know she wrote Jesse--my mom used to play Joan Baez' album Diamonds and Rust and I still love it, especially Jesse.

by Anonymousreply 7004/30/2021

Roberta's Jesse...

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by Anonymousreply 7104/30/2021

Thanks, R71. I have always loved her!

by Anonymousreply 7204/30/2021

[quote]I just listened to about 20 seconds of Celine Dion’s cover and immediately disliked her phrasing. “Clareskin smiles,” yuck.

She sounds like a person who doesn't understand a word of English and is singing the song phonetically. Her phrasing is so bad she loses the narrative.

by Anonymousreply 7304/30/2021

Love this song, her voice, the lyrics, etc.

Glad Celine Dion remade it and reintroduced it to new people. Celine is so talented and people insult her looks sometimes. So, she was the perfect person to remake it. I don't mind her English pronunciations. I do prefer Janis Ian's version.

by Anonymousreply 7404/30/2021

really r74...because at 17 CD was screwing her manager, soon to be husband

by Anonymousreply 7504/30/2021

What are you saying, R75? I realize she had a relationship w/manager. I realize it probably started b/f she was 18 (that's their story). But she was still criticized for her looks.

by Anonymousreply 7604/30/2021

Celine needed styling when she was just starting out, bless her heart.

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by Anonymousreply 7704/30/2021

When music still required talent.

by Anonymousreply 7804/30/2021

r76....the point is the song is about social angst and awkwardness and feeling unwanted and undesired and that you dont fit in and not finding love because of it...everything that CD was not...she was attractive before she became anorexic

by Anonymousreply 7904/30/2021

[quote] she was attractive before she became anorexic

There was definitely an awkward teenage era

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by Anonymousreply 8004/30/2021

You think shes ugly in that pic r80 ? What was she 12 ? FFS...and people wonder why awkward kids grow up with issues. You are not in grade school.

by Anonymousreply 8104/30/2021

Celine Dion looks amazingly like Ruth Buzzi in that picture at R77. Obviously it was decided that her look needed a LOT of work.

by Anonymousreply 8204/30/2021

[quote]R70 my mom used to play Joan Baez' album Diamonds and Rust and I still love it, especially Jesse.

We were walking in a Jewel thread about how “Foolish Games” has a couple melodic lines lifted directly from the song “Diamonds and Rust.”

Interesting if you can spot them, having grown up with that album like I did : )

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by Anonymousreply 8305/01/2021
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by Anonymousreply 8405/01/2021

Who knew Janis Ian had such a rabid following on DL!

by Anonymousreply 8505/03/2021

Why not r85....after all, shes one of us

by Anonymousreply 8605/03/2021

Great song that probably touched something in everyone who listened to it.

by Anonymousreply 8705/03/2021

I remember the summer At Seventeen hit the airwaves. 100 degrees on a road trip to the beach along Highway 1, the windows of our old Datsun wide open, the song on the radio, my three teenage sisters singing along at the top of their voices, crying then laughing at themselves when it was over.

by Anonymousreply 8805/03/2021

Thats a lovely memory R88 .

by Anonymousreply 8905/03/2021

R88-- Such a sweet memory.

by Anonymousreply 9005/03/2021

I saw her a couple of times in concert at an outdoor venue in a south side Chicago suburb. It might have been a racetrack but can't quite remember. What I do remember is that she had a really powerful voice, much more powerful than the seventeen song. She was great.

by Anonymousreply 9105/03/2021

I could see Janis Ian or her wife as DLers. They have that wit and lesbian knowledge Datalounge thrives on.

by Anonymousreply 9205/04/2021

Is Janis of the lesbian persuasion?

by Anonymousreply 9305/04/2021


Can’t be bothered to even read the fucking thread?

by Anonymousreply 9405/04/2021

Janis Ian, before she came out as lesbian, had relationships with men. There was a photographer named Peter Cunningham and she was married to a Portuguese filmmaker named Tino Sargo who was quite abusive to her. She divorced him and came out as gay; she been married to her partner since 2003. I think she's very happy with her life now.

by Anonymousreply 9505/04/2021

She eats snatch.

by Anonymousreply 9605/04/2021

She a rug muncher?!

by Anonymousreply 9705/04/2021

r92, Janis was a member of the Gawker commentariat.

This song came out while I was in high school. One of the guys in my sociology class told me, "Whenever I hear that song, I think of you."

Thanks loads and fuck you, Perry!

by Anonymousreply 9805/04/2021

What exactly is "exceeds accounts received" anyway?

by Anonymousreply 9905/04/2021

Very funny story, r98.

by Anonymousreply 10005/05/2021

[quote] What exactly is "exceeds accounts received" anyway?

The line before it is:

[quote] In dull surprise when payment due

Accounting ledger terms. You're owed something that you're keeping track of (payment due). But you're not receiving what's owed to you. (Accounts received reflects you haven't been paid what's owed.)

by Anonymousreply 10105/05/2021

She likes pussy juice. Ugh!

by Anonymousreply 10205/05/2021

Cheers trivia.

The part of Carla was, at one point, offered to singer and songwriter Janis Ian. Ian declined, as she would effectively have to take seven years out of her musical career to fill the acting contract. Ironically, the following year, Ian was dropped by her label after the commercial failure of the album she had declined Cheers to write. It was seven years before she recorded or toured significantly again.

by Anonymousreply 10305/05/2021

The idea of Janis Ian playing the lustful, earthy, fertile Carla Tortelli is laughable. She would NOT have had ability to pull off such a role.

by Anonymousreply 10405/05/2021

yes she would

by Anonymousreply 10505/05/2021

No she wouldn't, R105. Janis Ian has NO comedic talent, never did.

by Anonymousreply 10605/05/2021

What huge success did she have aside from At Seventeen? Two years later, her albums didn't even chart. She makes it sound like she was in Fleetwood Mac, Linda Ronstadt territory. She was red hot for about a year at most.

Joan Baez gushed about her heavily in the media at that time of At Seventeen, acting like Janis was her torch bearer. At the Grammys, Joan who was presenting Best Album with Stevie Wonder, couldn't hide her disgust when Stevie Wonder read off Captain and Tennille as the winners.

by Anonymousreply 10705/05/2021

Why would she be offered the role of Carla? Had she ever acted in anything?

Why would they offer a role on a network sitcom to someone with such niche appeal, from outside of acting, and with no known comedic talent?

Wasn't she pretty washed up by 1982?

by Anonymousreply 10805/05/2021

It's Matt Gaetz's favorite song.

by Anonymousreply 10905/05/2021

R71 Roberta always has me worried that she's going to nod off in between verses.

by Anonymousreply 11005/05/2021

Janis Ian studied acting with Stella Adler. But I don't think she's ever actually acted in anything. I think the rumor about her getting offered the role of Carla in Cheers is bullshit.

by Anonymousreply 11105/05/2021

At Seventeen was a boring song. Did it ever end???? Never listened to it all the way through. Way too snoozeworthy.

by Anonymousreply 11205/05/2021

R112 is a rich relationed hometown QUEEN!

by Anonymousreply 11305/05/2021

Oh, you know her Miss. Groupie Supreme Rip R112 to shreds!

by Anonymousreply 114Last Monday at 2:48 PM
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