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Seventeen

Seventeen[1]

WRITING CREDITS:
Peter Laughner[2]

   
[Spoken] 8:15 in Detroit, on CKLW[3]
 
[Sung] Our teachers wouldn't let us kiss in the hall.
My daddy told me I was headin' for a fall.
Now, your sister took you aside, and she advised you,
but she was tellin' you lies, all that she wanted to.
 
The neighbors saw you when you turned out the lights.
They told the neighborhood how we spent the night.
Your daddy beat you and he dragged you to church.
If he'd 've had a gun, he would 've done me in first.
 
When I was seventeen,
when I was seventeen,
and my heart was thrown away.
and my heart was thrown away.
Like a ship out on the sea.
Like a ship out on the sea.
Just like a ship out on the virgin sea.
 
Our buddies wouldn't let us smoke in the car.
They kept on saying we were going too far.
Now, my best friend he took me aside and he advised me, too,
but he was bullsh**ting lies; I know he wanted to.
 
You know what he wanted to do, baby.
We came to school with the fever every day
and stood around with lots of nothin' to say,
learning how to love and learning how to hate.
You burn and turn and hurt, but mostly you just wait.
 
When you are seventeen,
when you are seventeen,
and your heart was flowin' away.
and your heart was flowin' away.
Like a ship out on the sea.
Like a ship out on the sea.
Just like a ship out on the virgin sea,
ah the deep blue sea.
 
Where the pale moon shone free.
That's where I want to come to you
any time that you want me to.
Remember what we used to be?
It doesn't matter, but I still like the feeling
like when you felt so foolish and free,
like you were out on the virgin sea.
Out on the deep blue sea.
Out on the deep blue sea.
   

 
APPEARS ON
The Creem Office Sessions bootleg cassette, MP3 disc
Track §8
WFMU (1975-1976), New Jersey; MP3 disc (2007)

SOURCES
Transcription by Lester Bangs Archive management, 2013.

Last Updated: 08/29/2016

ABOUT THE LYRICS: 

[1] As with other jams in the Creem Office Sessions, in "Seventeen" Lester lets Peter Laughner take point on vocals and on occasion interjects with his own spirited notes.

[2] The lyrical tenor and tone of "Seventeen" seems inspired by Janis Ian's Grammy-winning "At 17," which had been topping the charts in 1975, about six months before the Creem Office Sessions were recorded. However, writer Peter Laughner reveals offhandedly in the recording his lyrics were composed several years earlier.  Whether or not this is accurate is trivial: in the midst of the sometimes chaotic improvisational frenzy generating the Creem Office Sessions, "Seventeen" brings a calm clarity. It's assumed, but not known with certainty, that the lyrics were an autobiographical catharsis for songwriter Peter Laughner, who passed away in 1977. We know, however, that Lester Bangs was a fan of Ian, as evidenced by his reviews and by the Janis Ian t-shirt he wore in Christine Patoski's 1980 photos of him in his New York apartment.

[3] CKLW: Broadcast from Windsor, Ontario, and serving the Detroit area, where Bangs was working for Creem magazine, CKLW AM 800 was renowned during the 1960s and 70s for its pioneering Top 40 format.

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