At Seventeen

Last night I got a rare treat and was able to cross one more name off the list of Greats whom I want to see perform live; we got together as a family and went to see Janis Ian. I’ve never been to a concert before that truly surprised me by being over. She could have sung another two hours (on top of the two she did) and I wouldn’t even have looked at my watch. Janis is all of about five-foot-nothing, just a twee woman, but the sound she can belt out of those pipes will silence the room. And she plays a mean blues guitar!

I loved the way that she’d tell little stories, introducing the songs… especially my favorite song, which is one she wrote back in 1975. There’s always a worry, you know, with a song that old that the performer might be tired of being asked to play it — not so. She said some beautiful things about how every artist hopes to do that one piece that crosses gender and culture walls and reaches right into your heart; this song is it. I don’t know anyone who has heard it who isn’t touched by it. The woman in back of me was singing along during the song, and the woman in front of me was crying. Here’s a great performance I found on YouTube from a number of years ago.

3 Comments

  1. Ginny Reardon

    I discovered Janis Ian in college and remember thinking: “why haven’t I heard this song before!” when I heard At Seventeen. Definitely my favorite from her Verve Recordings.

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