On the fourth night of Hanukkah Dave Grohl and Greg Kurstin gave us a classic coming-of-age song. Mid-way through this year’s “Hanukkah Sessions,” the Foo Fighters leader and producer invited Grohl’s 16-year-old daughter, Violet, to the stage for a moving cover of Janis Ian’s 1975 hit “At Seventeen.”
“I learned the truth at 17/ That love was meant for beauty queens/ And high school girls with clear-skinned smiles/ Who married young and then retired,” Violet sang in a voice too young to be as world-weary as the character in Ian’s song. Strumming an acoustic guitar as dad Dave gently brushed the drums behind her and producer Kurstin provided light-touch, jazzy piano backing, the preternaturally poised teen brought a hush over the room as she painted a world of teen angst that swings from hope to angsty despair and back again.
And, in a touching moment, proud dad Dave gave his daughter a huge smile and two fists up for her elegant efforts at song’s end.
“Born Janis Eddy Fink, a 23-year-old Janis Ian wrote one of the all time classic coming of age anthems ‘At Seventeen’ — here it is as interpreted by Violet Grohl,” read the video’s description. It’s just the latest impressive showing by Violet, who also joined her dad and a parade of all-stars paying tribute to late Foo’s drummer Taylor Hawkins at a pair of memorial concerts in London and L.A. earlier this year, where she effortlessly pulled off moving covers of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and Jeff Buckley’s “Last Goodbye.”
So far this season, Kurstin and Grohl have teamed with the former’s The Bird and the Bee bandmate Inara George for 10cc’s “The Things We Do For Love,” P!nk on “Get the Party Started” and director Judd Apatow for Blood, Sweat & Tears’ “Spinning Wheel.” This is Grohl and Kurstin’s third year posting eight nights of covers of songs made famous by Jewish musicians. In a twist, this year’s efforts were all recorded live at Los Angeles’ intimate Largo on Dec. 5 with a cast of all-star guests taking the stage at the 250-capacity club.
Grohl and Kurstin released the first “Sessions” in Dec. 2020 in the midst of the first winter of the COVID-19 pandemic, dropping one new cover for each night of the holiday. In the midst of a concerning rise in antisemitic incidents and hate speech in the U.S., proceeds from the Largo night went to the Anti-Defamation League.
Watch “At Seventeen” below.