27 Songs About Being 17

Most of us remember our youth fondly, and there was something magical about being 17— on the cusp of adulthood, but still with feet planted firmly in youth. We have urgent feelings of love and a wide-open future looming before us.

There are too many songs about being 17 to list them all, but we’ve put together a collection of some of the best ones.

“Dancing Queen” by ABBA

Song Year: 1976

Maybe this list’s first song should have “17” in the title. That’s fair. But is there anything more evocative of that year in all our lives than falling in love on the dance floor? No, there isn’t. Full stop.

The disco hi-hat drives the whole piece, and the dulcet voices of Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad give the whole thing a nice, lilting feel that helps the listener feel the joy of the events in the song.

That the titular queen has the time of her life is the point. It’s subtle, but it’s there: life is great now, but things will get complicated, because that’s how it is.

“I Saw Her Standing There” by The Beatles

Song Year: 1963

Sir Paul wrote the bulk of this iconic song, The Beatles’ second single, and he included the line about the girl being 17 in a calculated effort to appeal to the group’s large contingent of younger female fans.

It worked, though perhaps not immediately. The song peaked at number 14 on the Billboard charts in early 1964, but most of us know that things went on to work out pretty well for the four young Brits.

Fun fact— though the band recorded several takes of the song, the version that got released was the first take.

“17” by Avril Lavigne

Song Year: 2013

So many songs about lost love are wistful and melancholy. Avril Lavigne’s “17” is anything but. Like other tunes, the lyrics of “17” look back on the narrator’s life at that tender age, living life and feeling the first flush of love.

She wished she could go back to those days when things were simpler. The lyrics capture that late-teens feeling most of us had— the world is our oyster, we are invincible, and life will always be this joyful.

“At Seventeen” by Janis Ian

Song Year: 1975

As much fun as 17 was for many people, the teen years can be hard on some. Teenagers can be quite cruel. There’s a whole musical about just that.

Janis Ian’s 70s folk music vibe lends a sad resignation to the remembrances of a teenage outcast. She invents boyfriends and thinks of herself as an ugly duckling. The song has been one of Ian’s most enduring, but dang, it’s a downer.

“Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks

Song Year: 1982

Stevie Nicks wrote “Edge of Seventeen” in the throes of grief. One of her beloved uncles and John Lennon died within a week of each other, and the shift in her world was a seismic one.

The white-winged dove, according to Nicks, represents the soul leaving the body. The reference to seventeen in the title came from Nick misunderstanding something Tom Petty’s wife said to her, but she liked the phrase.

Perhaps the loss of innocence that often comes around that age relates to the brutal truth of death that Nicks had to face in December of 1980.

“Let’s Go” by The Cars

Song Year: 1979

The Cars may have had bigger hits than this one, from their second album, but there’s not a single tune that’s more Cars-ian than this one. It’s got it all— bounce and swagger, crunchy guitars, a synth line that sounded super cool then and now has a slight cheese factor to it (that’s not necessarily a bad thing), and hand claps.

The lyrics paint a nostalgic picture of the days when, in our late teens, we feel like there is no time, that life must be lived right this instant, and when we find the right girl or guy, we have to act on it immediately and get as much of their time as possible.

“It Was A Very Good Year” by Frank Sinatra

Song Year: 1965

Easily one of the most popular songs from Old Blue Eyes, “It Was a Very Good Year” only spends part of its lyrical budget on the narrator’s 17th year. But it’s a heart-tugging piece of music.

The lyrics look back over a man’s life as he nears its end, recalling specific times in his life, from living life as a small-town country boy to a civilized young man to a well-heeled adult. He fondly recalls those stages of his life and feels satisfaction as to just how fully he lived it.

“Paradise by the Dashboard Light” by Meat Loaf

Song Year: 1977

When the first line talks about parking a car by the lake with no other cars around, you have some idea of what the song's about. “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” delivers.

As one of Meat Loaf’s signature epic songs (this one clocks in at more than eight minutes long), “Paradise” recounts a young couple anxious to engage in adult activities. The paradise that the narrator can see in the weak light of the car’s dashboard isn’t exactly subtle, but neither is any 17-year-old boy.

“Strawberry Wine” by Deana Carter

Song Year: 1996

As debut singles go, “Strawberry Wine” is a strong one. It went to number one for Deana Carter, and it became her signature song. It’s a bit treacly, but we all get a little maudlin when thinking back to the good old days and first loves.

The narrator’s melancholy is amplified near the song’s end when she returns to her old stomping grounds to find that it’s fallen prey to the ravages of time. Hey, Deana— it happens to the best of us.

“Carmen” by Lana Del Rey

Song Year: 2012

Songs about the loss of those simpler days when we were young can be sad. Songs about drug-addicted 17-year-old girls who might be prostitutes, judging from the lyrics, are quite a bit sadder.

“Carmen” occupies that second category and is one of the saddest songs about being 17. It paints a depressing picture of a debauched lifestyle and the deleterious effects it has on young Carmen.

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