It’s easy to be cynical about the city you’ve grown up in changing all around you, or to look with pure disdain at the rapid changes to a place you love. On the fuzzy, emotionally wrought “Seventeen,” Sharon Van Etten looks at the New York City of her past and present with a feeling closer to appreciation.
In the latest preview of her forthcoming Remind Me Tomorrow, out January 18th, Van Etten looks at the young dreamers in the city of today as reflections of her own hope and freedom when she was their age. The song’s beauty comes in the tenuous balance of how she sees being 17 years old, romanticizing that age only a bit but also grounding herself in the realities of feeling lonely and afraid of the future.
“Down beneath the ashes and the stone/Sure of what I’ve lived and have known/I see you so uncomfortably alone/I wish I could show you how much you’ve grown,” she sings in the song’s second verse. In the video, a younger version of herself sings those lyrics beneath a Williamsburg underpass as present-day Van Etten lingers behind her.