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Janis Ian – At Seventeen lyrics

I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear skinned smiles
Who married young and then retired.
The valentines I never knew
The Friday night charades of youth
Were spent on one more beautiful
At seventeen 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 called to say come dance with me
And murmured vague obscenities
It isn't all it seems
At seventeen.
A brown eyed girl in hand me downs
Whose name I never could pronounce
Said, Pity please the ones who serve
They only get what they deserve.
The rich relationed hometown queen
Married into what she needs
A guarantee of company
And haven for the elderly.
Remember those who win the game
Lose the love they sought to gain
Indebentures of quality
And dubious integrity.
Their small town eyes will gape at you
In dull surprise when payment due
Exceeds accounts received
At seventeen.
To those of us who know 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
And dreams were all they gave 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 other lives unknown
That call and say, come dance with me
And murmur vague obscenities
At ugly girls like me
At seventeen.

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Music Facts about Janis Ian and "At Seventeen" song

At Seventeen meanings

  • u
    I identified with this song in high school. It was as if she wrote this song for or about me. I was the 'brown eyed girl in hand me downs whose name no one ever could pronounce' I was poor, I was the daughter of a Hungarian immigrant with a strange maiden name. I was no good at sports and painfully shy. Maybe part was my own doing, I always looked away when a boy would look my way. Janis Ian was not an ugly duckling even though she saw herself that way. It's all about self esteem. I didn't learn until later, and obviously she didn't either, that I really didn't look that bad.
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  • u
    Even though I'm a guy, I can totally relate to this song. I always have. I'm 46 now so I remember when this song was pupular. When I was nine, I never dreamed how it would resonate with me today! I know what it's like to have to stay home on friday night when everyone else is out having fun, and I didn't get to go to either mu junior or senior prom becaus there ws no one for me to go with: all the girls had dates! This is a tear-jerker for me, but one that does mean a lot to me just the same.
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