To new and old friends alike, if you have been listening to/streaming Seventeen since its release, thank you. From the absolute bottom of my heart, for all that's good in this big beautiful chaotic mess of a universe, thank you. I'll echo the sentiments of a Southwest flight attendant when I say, I know you have a lot of choices in music, and I thank you for choosing Brooks Huntley.
One of my favorite things to do when I hear a song I love is to dive deep into the meaning of it, the origins of its story and how, out of all the possible combinations of musical notes and words, this particular combination came to be. So I thought I'd give you a little rundown about how Seventeen came to be.
In May of 2020, I had just moved into a brand new house in Nashville. I had spent most of the previous two days trying to put together my new music studio in the upstairs bedroom of the house, and things were still pretty bare bones. Pretty worn out from the move that week, I opted into a Friday night in alone that week. I'm not sure about you, but when I have that sort of free time, my mindset immediately shifts. Instead of thinking like I normally would, about what the next task of the day is, or the next social encounter might be like, I'll start thinking about the past - usually about a person from the past.
This evening, my mind drifted to a girl from my high school days. Her and I had never dated, but we almost did several times. The timing was never right. Ultimately, I did some pretty insensitive and selfish things to that girl back when we were Seventeen. When I thought about how sweet of a girl she is, and how I treated her, I felt a sort of emptiness - a guilt that made me wonder, "what does she say when I come up in conversation?". In a moment of self deprecation, I thought about her hanging out with friends by a bonfire, talking about old love and dismissing me as a mistake. How could I ever have felt that way about a boy like him? That idea, and the realization that I would probably make that same mistake again if I didn't forgive myself for doing it the first time, turned into my guitar and I having a therapy session. I started writing, and within a 30 minutes or so, the song was finished.
I forgot about the song until January of 2021. Some co-writers of mine were asking to hear some of my unfinished ideas, and I found the song deep in my notes app on my phone. When I played it for them in their living room, there was a sort of unanimous feeling that what just happened was special, like we had re-struck gold. Everything I wrote stayed, except the bridge, which we re-wrote together, trying to really take the whole message of the song, which is forgiveness. Girl just remember, I was seventeen too.
That line in the bridge is directed at the girl, but it's really more a line for me. It's meant to say, "I was a kid. I'm not doomed to love poorly forever. I learned from that, and the pain it caused me is proof that I can and will do better".
Ultimately, I really do hope this song serves a couple of purposes for anyone who hears it. For the people who feel like they're not good at love, like they're simply a liability, only good at hurting people, I hope this is a message of encouragement; you aren't bad at love. You were younger when you made the mistakes you made. The fact that you feel bad about it means you know better. You've grown. You'll get it right, but you have to forgive yourself.
For the people on the other end of that equation, I hope this song encourages people to give forgiveness to the people that hurt them. Love gone wrong is almost never personal. Love mistakes are 99.99% of the time a symptom of fear and hurt. Forgive those who hurt you, and know it's not reflective of your worth to them, or your worth in general.
And that is Seventeen.