They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

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A Beautiful Voice, Heartbreaking Lyrics

Funny how you misremember things. I might've thought it was older, but apparently it was 1975 and I was in high school when Janis Ian came out with the iconic song "At Seventeen". I've always loved that song, being a geeky loner isn't reserved just for seventeen-year-old girls nor is the song's resonance, and during a 1978 trip in his van, my college buddy Rick and I toured New England and parts of Canada -- what was it, 4200 miles in 17 days? -- and Janis' album Between The Lines figured prominently in the music rotation.

And in another one of those things you keep forgetting, I was reminded that the other year when they re-ran the very first Saturday Night Live, there was Janis Ian singing "At Seventeen".

For The SF/F Fans, A Genre Version

Even amongst those who were huge Janis Ian fans 30-35 years ago, not so many know she's still out there plugging away -- and is also a SF author and attends SF cons. I either caught of glimpse of her at one of the WisCons I attended, or else am remembering the pictures including her which ran in Locus. (grin)

Anyway, at the 2009 Nebula Awards, Janis not only served as Toastmistress, but came out with a SF/F genre version of "At Seventeen". She's recently released mp3s online of this SFWA anthem with just her and her guitar and with backing accompaniment.

No one can annunciate serious vocabulary like Janis Ian. Seriously. (happy-grin) And her voice is still absolutely lovely. (sigh)

Not sure of the lyrics? The song created quite a lively discussion at "Janis Ian Filks Herself" on But you can go here to see Janis' annotated deconstructed lyrics so you'll become one of the "in" crowd that knows all the subtlety.

Note that this isn't the only alternative version of "At Seventeen" that Janis has done. She did a version about Jerry Seinfeld and his then girlfriend for Howard Stern. Wikipedia, however, is not hip enough to mention the new Nebula version. (grin)


I had a Borders Gift Card lying around -- wait, there's another one, and... actually make that three cards, including one with a partial balance -- so I took care of that little pending detail and ordered a bunch of Janis Ian CDs. You can't buy all your favorite old music (and new music) all at once, but sometimes you just have to say, "You know, I'm thinking about it, so let's do it now." (grin) Thanks, family members.

To everyone, enjoy!

Dr. Phil
Tags: fantasy, lyrics, music, science fiction, sfwa

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