At Seventeen: Janis Ian

Monday morning, a song for misfits.

At the time, 1975, the song was a  highly unlikely candidate for a pop hit. It may have been the first pop song for young women of high school age that wasn’t for the cheerleaders. It might be hard to recall now, in the age of Glee, but songs examining the inner lives of high school students who saw themselves as social outcasts were not, at the time, the common fare. Millions of young women saw themselves in the lyrics of the song, and suddenly the singer/songwriter, Janis Ian, who at age 14 had had a qualified (and often censored) hit with her song of interracial love, “Society’s Child,” was overnight an international star.

The clip above seems so raw, true, and natural that you might think it was just an amateur effort turned lucky. But Ian by that time had already had seven albums of music released and was an accomplished songwriter. It was the one time, though, she said, that she had penned a song and told her manager that she had just written a hit.

Thanks to YouTuber LittleMonster13100

4 thoughts on “At Seventeen: Janis Ian

  1. I remember the Song, I liked it back then, now it brings up emotions more strongly. she’s so pretty, i guess that’s why she was able to sing those words. Well in this new world of ours with the wearing of masks, beauty may now be seen in ones voice, for the time being!

    • Like a lot of teens, she unfortunately didn’t consider herself pretty; I read an interview with her where she said that for the first six months of singing the song before an audience she couldn’t keep her eyes open because she felt too embarrassed. You can see some of that in the performance in the clip. And I daresay she’s more gifted than many with her beautiful voice.

  2. Regarding your reply to what I wrote, it occurred to me while I watched her during the Song that maybe she didn’t realize that she really is pretty, so it took courage for her to stand her ground and Sing such an emotionally charged song. She was a true Artist.

Leave a Reply