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Zharth's Music Log (Revisited)

Week 56: The Teenage Years

(Originally posted on August 24, 2010)

Preface: This theme came to me all of a sudden, while I was sitting in bed listening to Stevie Nicks sing Edge of Seventeen on my radio. The idea sparked my inspiration, and I spent a whole day looking up songs to represent the various years of being a teenager. I ended up expanding my usual musical horizons in order to find songs that fit the theme, so you might find something a little bit different on this list than you might expect. Still, I tried to keep it firmly rooted in my blues and rock experience. But it's nice to branch out every once in awhile. It's interesting to learn that certain teenage years appear to be more popular as a song topic than others. We'll start the fun with an amusing track I stumbled upon, which isn't part of the official lineup, but perfectly sets the stage for our journey through the teenage years - it's a chorus song called Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Hello Love, from the TV show Glee, and the subject of the song is the onset of puberty!

Monday: Big Star - Thirteen [#1 Record, 1972]
Comments: I read that this song was written by band member Alex Chilton when he actually was thirteen. I hadn't known of the band Big Star before discovering this song, for this theme, but can you believe - they're an authentic band from the seventies! In fact, the album that features this song also includes a track called In The Street, which was used (famously covered by Cheap Trick) as the theme song to the hit television series That 70's Show! It turns out the song Thirteen has been covered quite a lot through the years - I'm fond of Garbage's version, myself. Having a female vocalist brings new meaning to the line, "come inside now, it's okay." :-o

Tuesday: The Vandals - Fourteen [Look What I Almost Stepped In..., 2000]
Comments: Can you believe this was the only song I could find with "fourteen" in the title (referring to the age)? Apparently The Vandals are something of a tongue-in-cheek music act. Which may make you feel more comfortable (or at least less outraged) when you realize this song is about a man lamenting the fact that he can't make love to his girlfriend because she's only fourteen. Regardless of the controversial subject matter, if you take the humorous lyrics at face value, they're actually quite sensible. -_^

Wednesday: Taylor Swift - Fifteen [Fearless, 2008]
Comments: Being that she's a country pop artist, Taylor Swift is not really the kind of music I listen to. But the fact is, she's so gorgeous, that I don't mind using one of her songs in this theme. You might notice that I linked to the video rather than just the song - this is entirely intentional. Anyway, the song fits the theme perfectly. I was originally going to use The Who's 5:15 which, despite the title not referring to an age, has the line "girls of fifteen, sexually knowing", and anyway, comes from the album Quadrophenia which is a rock opera about the "teenage wasteland". But I thought of a different theme to use that song for, so instead of rock n roll, you get a pretty girl. I think that's an acceptable trade-off. :-3

Thursday: Iggy Pop - Sixteen [Lust For Life, 1977]
Comments: Sixteen is, not surprisingly, one of those ages that is really popular as a topic for songs. Whatever it is, "sweet" sixteen is an age that gets a lot of attention. There was no shortage of songs to choose from, but I forsook both B.B. King and Chuck Berry, and went instead for something a little different. Hence, Iggy Pop's not-so-sweet Sixteen. Listening to the album Lust For Life, I sense that it has a similar aesthetic to Iggy's earlier albums with The Stooges, but it's lacking that raw power that made those albums so damn good. :-/

Friday: Jethro Tull - 17 [Stand Up, 1969 (Bonus Track)]
Comments: What, you thought I was gonna pick Stevie Nicks' Edge of Seventeen? Sure, that's a great song, but you've heard it a billion times already, haven't you? So here's an ultra obscure track by Jethro Tull instead. I actually considered - believe it or not - Janis Ian's At Seventeen, only because I knew the unorthodox nature of some of the songs in this theme would let me get away with it. In fact, that song probably fits the theme better, but my reputation is safer with the Jethro Tull track. :-p

Saturday: Alice Cooper - I'm Eighteen [Love It To Death, 1971]
Comments: This is the one track I had the least trouble deciding on, as it's not only a great song that I've known for a long time, but it fits the theme of adolescent uncertainty (despite the fact that 18 is the age of adulthood) to a T. Although, that having been said, I have to admit that I thought about a different song I've been hearing on the radio a lot lately - that is, Skid Row's 18 And Life. Though I think that might refer to a prison sentence rather than an age. I don't know, it could be a double entendre. o.O

Sunday: Steely Dan - Hey Nineteen [Gaucho, 1980]
Comments: Nineteen is one of those ages that is apparently not very popular. There was one other good choice, but I already used it for the Young Lust theme. I guess, once you hit nineteen, you're practically in your twenties, you're an adult, and all the fun is behind you. Though, ironically, this song seems to emphasize the generation gap between the band member(s), and a girl (or girls) of "just" nineteen. Granted, the generation gap is real, but I think it's frequently over-exaggerated. We all - regardless of age - suffer from the human condition. And though those of wiser years have much to impart to the inexperienced, it is also true that the child is father to the man. :-D