Words and music by Eric Wrobbel


Description from YouTube

“I don’t care how goofy this old fool looks--
My reading glasses on your schoolbooks
You make me feel seventeen
Hair that dances, eyes that shine
Tonight I can’t believe you’re really really mine
You make me feel seventeen
I see your skin, I hear your voice
You take my hand and I have no choice
You make me feel
You make me feel
You make me feel seventeen”

Directly out of the "Surfer Girl" school of songwriting, this song has more to say in its few words than you'll get out of many feature films, and with more vivid and lasting effect.

As one gets older, memories of things in the past tend to get sweeter. This is usually chalked up to selective memory, where the negatives associated with a time or an event or a person are suppressed. These suppressions are part of it, certainly, but perhaps the greatest cause of this memory sweetening is the fact that the stars of our memories, our selves, are simply younger in them. It isn't so much the memories that are sweeter, but rather the vision of ourselves within them--full of innocence and potential.

We are able to "make up" for many things in later life. We can fulfill many of the desires we had when younger. We can even right a few wrongs on a personal level. But as the details in our memories inevitably fade, it becomes clearer that the thing we cherish most about our memories is our own youth. And many of us would trade all those fulfilled desires of adulthood for the uncertainty and longing of youth.

So what am I getting at? This: We can be powerfully influenced emotionally by anything that makes us feel young. Yes, I know, advertisers have known this since the dawn of time. But I'm not here to sell you face cream. I'm here to talk about this song.

That thing that makes us feel young does not have to be young. I have heard people misread this song, distracted by the reference to "schoolbooks" and assuming the love interest to be seventeen years old and thus underage. Poppycock. The singer of the song, the "old fool," isn't robbing the cradle, he is reveling in a relationship that makes him feel younger--that makes him feel seventeen. I have known this guy for some years now. And I also know the woman who inspired this lyric. I don't think I'm giving too much away to say that she was born in the Eisenhower administration.

And that is the point of this song. Not that you should hang around a high school in the hopes of feeling younger. For most of us, such a thing would just make us feel older still. No, the point is that feeling younger is a wonderful thing and when you are in a relationship with someone who does that for you, you are lucky indeed.

Conversely, there are love relationships where you are made to feel old, where you are the "responsible" one and are forced to be almost "parental" at times. You do all the worrying and the cleaning up, and they have all the fun. Liberation from such a relationship is exhilarating. I suppose there are people who like the idea of being a perpetual parent. I don't think such people will appreciate this song, or understand the joy that is at its heart.

About Eric Wrobbel

This songwriter, artist, musician and humorist has written and produced hundreds of interesting tracks for himself and others in his long, eclectic career. Rarely performing live, he has almost exclusively focused his musical efforts as a studio artist, working in a wide range of styles that have variously been described as rock, folk, country, psych, humor, and pop.

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