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Sylfest
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Let's try the whole thing again!

   

Posts: 47
Mystifying lyrics
« : 07.02.06 at 19:14 »
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Nothing to do with Pete Atkin as far as I know, but a fine song nonetheless:
"At Seventeen", by Janis Ian, is not only a heartbreaker but an "ear-worm" of the first order. That simple bossa-nova riff is unshakeable from my head once remembered. (Like "With her it goes deeper", if a PA/CJ link there must be, but even more infectious.)
 
Here's a link to the lyrics if you aren't familiar with them: <http://www.guntheranderson.com/v/data/atsevent.htm>
 
What on earth does that 'financial' second middle-eight mean?  
 
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
 
I sense this is rather clumsily written, but it's worth persevering nevertheless, because the emotional force of the song is so powerful, and the bright spots so brilliant, e.g. "their small-town eyes will gape at you / in dull surprise..."
 
Midnight Voices is the best forum I've come across for song lyric discussions.  
So what about this one. Anyone?
 
Cheers
Sylfest
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Fardel
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Posts: 6
Re: Mystifying lyrics
« Reply #1: 24.02.06 at 21:18 »
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"not only a heartbreaker but an "ear-worm" of the first order"  
Oh yes!
 
As soon as I read your post, I instantly recognised the song, and it replayed in my head.  But where from?  I don't recognise the name Janis Ian, although reading about her on the 'net I certainly should have.  'My' version sounds like a male voice singing it, although this would be out of character for the lyrics.  (No it's not myself - I can't hold a note or a tune)  Who recorded this other than Janis herself?  It's not anywhere in my collection, but is Oh SO familiar, and I've always loved the words.  
 
Reading the lyrics, it is so very good.  I have to say thank you Sylfest, for awakening a wonderful memory.
 
Can anyone enlighten me to who also recorded it?
 
Ian
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BogusTrumper
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Posts: 282
Re: Mystifying lyrics
« Reply #2: 25.02.06 at 22:08 »
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Gaotmen:
 
Playing Credits:
Lead vocal: Marty Clarke. Acoustic guitar: John Reynolds.  
 
http://www.goatmen.com/track.php?id=34
 
JOHN COMMENTS:
Marty had an original 45 of this Janis Ian teen-alienation classic, and it was his idea to cover it. The song happened to be a favorite of mine as a kid, so I was all for it. Marty really means it, and, to this day, I'm not sure how to react to the heartfelt performance and fact that he doesn't change the gender (i.e. "ugly duckling girls like me"). Is he trying to be funny? Is he trying to be pure? So many feelings evoked. I have to say, Marty took a couple of liberties with the lyrics, one of which I've always strongly disagreed with. The original goes, "For those of us who knew the pain / Of the valentines that never came / And those whose names were never called / When choosing sides for basketball." Marty changed "never" to "only," which made no sense to me in '92 and makes no sense to me now. He said the guys who got called first were tools. Now, I'm sure they had a peculiar way of doing many things over there at Bergen Catholic, but at every school I ever went to, the popular kids got called first. I mean, right?
 
MARTY COMMENTS:
Jane found the 45 of this and John quickly worked out all the chords. Considering the song’s content, John asked me, “Do you really want to sing this?” I said “Not only am I going to sing it, I’m going to mean it.”
 
LYRICS
I learned the truth at 17  
That love was meant for beauty queens  
And high school girls with clear skin smiles  
They married young and then retired  
 
The valentines I never knew  
The Friday night charades of youth  
Were spent on ones more beautiful  
At 17 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 said  
"Won't you come and dance with me?"  
Or whisper vague obscenities  
It isn't all it seems  
At 17  
 
For those of us who knew the pain  
Of the valentines that never came  
Or those whose names were only called  
When choosing sides for basketball  
 
It was long ago and far away  
The world was young again today  
They gave away some dreams for free  
To ugly duckling girls  
Like me  
 
We all play the game  
And when we dare  
To cheat ourselves at solitaire  
Inventing lovers on the phone  
Repenting lives  
But not our own  
Who said "Won’t you come and dance with me?"  
Or do something obscene to me  
It isn't all it seems  
At 17  
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And so goodbye, my lady of a night
Fardel
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Posts: 6
Re: Mystifying lyrics
« Reply #3: 26.02.06 at 10:34 »
Quote

Thanks Bogus,
 
But that's not the one.  At least I now have a copy to listen to.   Smiley
 
The Goatmen recorded in 1992, but my memory of this song goes back a lot further than that, I think, but not as far back as the original in 1975.  The version in my head is very smooth and lyrical, not at all hard-edged like the Goatmen.  Something like Val Doonican might have done it  Shocked  (not that I'm a fan of him at all).  Maybe it'll come back to me one day?  Thanks anyway.
 
Ian
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Jan
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Posts: 304
Re: Mystifying lyrics
« Reply #4: 26.02.06 at 21:24 »
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Janis Ian videos of this song can be seen at:
 
http://www.youtube.com/?v=wNZccD_Svyw  
and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSdQdb8gJtQ&search=Janis%20Ian%20Seventeen%20 1975  
 
Searching the National Sound Archive catalogue at:
cadensa.bl.uk  
I've found a number of versions:
Whistler
Valerie Lilley /Alan Bleasdale (Speaker)
Marion Montgomery (backed by Laurie Holloway)
Gordon Langford and his orchestra
Marti Caine
Catherine Porter
Jodie Brooke Wilson
 
None seems to match. Although a very useful source for individual songs the Archive is not exhaustive, for example the Lakeside Sessions  are missing  Sad  although they do include Winter Spring  Smiley
There is probably a similar sound catalogue on the Library of Congress site:
catalog.loc.gov  
but its down for maintenance until later tonight.
Jan
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Keith Busby
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Posts: 160
Re: Mystifying lyrics
« Reply #5: 26.02.06 at 21:39 »
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Blimey! Takes a reference librarian . . .  
 
Keith
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Commit THAT to Your Fragrant Memory!
Jan
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Posts: 304
Re: Mystifying lyrics
« Reply #6: 27.02.06 at 06:56 »
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Can never resist a challenge!
J
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