Hear Dave Grohl and His Daughter Perform Janis Ian’s ‘At Seventeen’
Violet Grohl, who will turn 17 next April, played acoustic guitar while backed by her father, Kurstin and a three-piece horn section. You can watch the video below.
Grohl, who is not Jewish, and Kurstin, who is, launched the annual Hanukkah Sessions series in 2020. Earlier this month they were joined by guests such as Pink, Beck and Tenacious D at a secret show in Los Angeles. It was the first time the series was recorded in front of a live audience.
Born Janis Eddy Fink in Farmingdale, N.J. in 1951, Ian's parents were both Jewish-born liberal atheists, whose own parents had both emigrated to the U.S. via England around 1918. "My family knew a lot of concentration camp survivors," she explained to the Jewish Standard in 2010.
Watch Violet Grohl, Greg Kurstin and Dave Grohl Perform 'At Seventeen'
Growing up, Ian admired the work of artists such as Joan Baez and Odetta. By the time she was a teenager, she had become skilled at several different instruments and was writing her own songs.
She legally changed her name to Janis Ian in 1964, borrowing a new surname from her brother Eric's middle name. A year later, when she was just 14 years old, Ian released "Society's Child (Baby I've Been Thinking)," a song about an interracial romance that, although a Top 15 hit, was widely considered taboo by radio stations as well as among the general population. For roughly a decade, Ian, who rubbed shoulders with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Leonard Cohen, was generally considered a one-hit wonder.
That perception changed in 1975 when she released "At Seventeen," a commentary on adolescent angst and societal pressures on young women. "You couldn’t write a song like that without having gone through it," Ian told The Guardian in 2022. "The first time I sang 'At Seventeen' in public I did it with my eyes closed. I felt like I was naked and I was sure the audience was going to be laughing."
"At Seventeen" reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. On Oct. 11, 1975, accompanied by keyboardist Billy Preston, Ian performed the song as the musical guest on the very first episode of Saturday Night Live.
Hear Janis Ian Perform 'At Seventeen'