I first heard the song “Seventeen” by Sharon Van Etten on KEXP Seattle, one of my go-to sources for music. The song is also the subject of an episode of the podcast, Song Exploder, where artists break down the recording of their songs. (I provide a link below… bookmark it; I highly recommend listening to the podcast when you find 27 minutes to spare sometime. The entire song is played at the end of the episode.)
Listening to Song Exploder certainly helps me to hear songs differently, and in the case of “Seventeen,” brings out the experience that I think producer John Congleton was trying to build with Van Etten’s song… the guitar feedback, loops and effects (I think she refers to them as alien sounds in the podcast) Congleton layers into the song create a sense of the utter angst that comes from being not quite a kid, not quite an adult, stuck somewhere in between. A hard place, as many of us can remember.
“I see you so uncomfortably alone
I wish I could show you how much you’ve grown”
(from “Seventeen,” by Sharon Van Etten and Kate Davis)
Toward the end of the podcast, Van Etten gives an account of why she wrote the song and to whom she was singing part of it when literally screaming out part of the verse. That part is truly gripping to me. The official video complements this story she hints at, portraying it so powerfully. I really do recommend listening to the episode.
Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Enjoy. And if you like the music, please support the artist, and buy it.
As usual, there’s a video below, the official version from Sharon Van Etten’s YouTube channel. Also, here’s the podcast episode (and song… and while you’re there, surf the main site for some other great episodes about songs by Fleetwood Mac, Arcade Fire, Wolf Alice, Fleet Foxes, and many others including ep. 37, the theme from Downton Abbey!).