Sam Fender’s “Seventeen Going Under” Lyrics Meaning

It would appear that some British artists, with Sam Fender being from England, also aren’t shy about putting out songs based directly on their personal lives. And so it is with “Seventeen Going Under”, which is grounded in the vocalist’s harrowing experiences when he was at the titular age, which would have been a decade ago since Fender is currently 27. And as a primer, let’s just say that he didn’t have an easy childhood at all.

In terms of the most intimate part of this narrative, that would definitely have to be the bridge. Here, Sam’s mom is depicted as being unemployed and completely emotionally overcome by debt. 

But outside of that most of the lyrics, i.e. the verses themselves, center more on the vocalist being engaged in a violent, perhaps we can even say gang-related youth lifestyle. And it isn’t like he’s a rapper for instance, i.e. someone bragging about possessing such a past. Rather in retrospect, it appears that Fender is filled with regret. 

Such a disposition is not only due to him having been caught up in a destructive modus operandi but also not fully living up to the ideologies of said subculture. Or more simply put, he and his crew may have had their victories, but they experienced their losses also.

And in the here and now, Sam expressing regret for not having been tougher back in the day is further indicative of how the violence of his youth still affects him. Like this is a very authentic song from a psychological standpoint. Yes, the singer has apparently matured to the point where he realizes that back then, he was on the road to nowhere. But that doesn’t mean, even in hindsight, that he wouldn’t have liked to impress his peers more.

Sam’s Father

Fender also namedrops his dad in this piece. And it appears that 17 was also the age when he began to realize just how similar he and his father are, i.e. at the time when Sam himself was engaged in, most simply put, drug abuse. 

And whereas he is able to identify and admire certain attributes his father possesses, concurrently he is also able to perceive that pop dukes is depressed.

“Seventeen Going Under”

Ultimately, this is in fact a melancholic piece. And what the title alludes to, as already implied, is the singer being able to understand that during his late teens his life was headed in the wrong direction. 

He was involved in street violence – a story that usually doesn’t end on a happy note. And while he was caught up in violence, both of his parents were also dealing with depression and other issues. So it’s understandable why Sam may have foreseen little hope at the time.

Of course at the end of the day, using music as a refuge, Sam’s life has been transformed into a success story. But perhaps the subliminal thesis statement of this piece is meant to illustrate how even as full-fledged adults certain memories from childhood, especially the painful or regretful ones, tend to inhabit a permanent place in our brains. 

But as explained by Fender, perhaps the more overt goal of this song is to let other youth who are going through the BS know that they shouldn’t get too bent out of shape, as issues such as those mentioned above may be more common than they think. Or put differently, in the grand scheme of things Sam can be seen as a role model, as in someone who overcame a troubling childhood.

Sam Fender, "Seventeen Going Under" Lyrics

Facts about “Seventeen Going Under”

This is the title track from Sam Fender’s second LP. And just like his first album, this also proceeded to top the UK Albums Chart. 

This particular tune, which is also the project’s lead single, was officially made public by Polydor Records on 7 July 2021.

Sam wrote this song himself. The song’s producer is one Bramwell Bronte, who is noted as being a personal friend and regular collaborator of the vocalist.

Even though this song didn’t get around to being officially dropped until mid-2021, Sam had debuted it, via a live performance, approximately a year earlier. And the debut of the track itself, on the aforementioned release date, was via a BBC program called Future Sounds with Annie Mac.

“Seventeen Going Under” made it onto the top 30 of the UK Singles Chart. Furthermore, it has has been certified silver by the BPI.

Seventeen Going Under

Chart Performance

“Seventeen Going Under” shot to number #1 in Netherlands.

It was also very successful in the United Kingdom.

CountriesPosition
Ireland#4
United Kingdom#3

19 Responses

  1. Bob says:

    Great song will be buskers favourite in years to com

  2. Graham Little says:

    Well deconstructed. I can see this song growing arms and legs, especially on the back of the acoustic version(s) – keep an ear out for one with Holly Humberstone. It’s truly haunting and uplifting at the same time. The kind of rare musical treat that grabs your soul and demands you not only listen to it, but hear it also. Cheesy but true.

  3. Anonymous says:

    great talent lots more to come hopefully

  4. Sarah Powell says:

    Great song, haunting lyrics, brings a lot of past memories. I’m a fan!

  5. Shirley Stockdale says:

    Great song…reminiscent of the Waterboys. Love it!

  6. Name says:

    Wonderful song, authors rap comment was rather retarded though.

  7. Steve (Liverpool) says:

    An absolutely seminal moment. For me, it is probably one of the best records of this century, and certainly up there in the top 10 of all time so far. I brought up on a diet of The Smiths, The Cure and Joy Division (and New Order), and until I heard this song, I’d convinced myself that the day of songs with great character were over, but I feel Sam Fender and other similar to him, are proof, that this generation still have it. Its pure brilliance.

  8. Michael says:

    From the moment I heard this song I immediately identified with it! Although twice the artist’s age and from the other side of the pond, the lyrics resounded so clearly with me. It’s quite magical how an artist like Sam Fender can evoke that in one of I’m sure many listeners! Thank you for this song, it helps me more than you will ever know!! I found my way out and I’m glad you did!! The open conversation I had with my daughter who loves this song was worth so much to me!!

  9. Geordie John says:

    Fantastic Youngen, True Geordie showing how to turn around bad experiences of childhood into something great, “Well done Kidda” Loves the lyrics, Love the songs ! Keep them coming. Someday I’ll get to a Gig.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Absolutely resonates hard.

  11. Scottish Kev says:

    The acoustic version with Holly is magical this song will be about for years

  12. Ollie says:

    I’m a teenager living in Essex and this song is an absolute anthem for me. Has got me through some hard times, so I thank Sam for that ❤️

  13. Jane Bartles says:

    The best song ever written in the last ten years definitely. Makes you wanna dance and cry at the same time. A song what hits emotions like that is priceless. Sam Fender you are fantastic and want to thank you xxx

  14. Anonymous says:

    Fabulous song that resonates with a lot of us regardless of age. Memories of a tough upbringing in a hard part of the country. Super talented lad, proud to be a Geordie 🖤🤍

  15. Caroline Storey says:

    He is such a mature song writer, I couldn’t believe he is was so young. He writes like he has lived a lot more life than he has

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