Sixteen Going on Seventeen

"Sixteen Going on Seventeen"
Song from The Sound of Music
Published 1959
Writer(s) Oscar Hammerstein II
Composer(s) Richard Rodgers

"Sixteen Going on Seventeen" is a show tune from the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music.


The lyrics of the song state that Liesl is a young girl at the beginning of her womanhood, and that she can depend on Rolf for guidance, because he is a good year older. Since the comparative maturity of the two characters in the story is the opposite of that expressed in the song, this is an example of lyrical irony.

A reprise of "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" is also sung by Maria and Liesl when the Captain and Maria came back from their honeymoon and Rolf has rejected Liesl. The introduction for the reprise, written to be sung by Maria, was not included in the film version of The Sound of Music,[1] but continue to be used in theatrical versions of the musical.

"A bell is no bell 'til you ring it,
A song is no song 'til you sing it,
And love in your heart
Wasn’t put there to stay -
Love isn’t love
'Til you give it away."[2][3]

Songwriters Don Roth and Timmy Tappan borrowed heavily from Hammerstein's introduction to the reprise in "Love Isn't Love ('Til You Give It Away)", which was a song covered by Reba McEntire on her Behind the Scene album:
"A smile's not a smile until it wrinkles your face
A bell's not a bell without ringing
A home's not a home when there's nobody there
A song's not a song without singing.

"Love isn't love till you give it away
Love isn't love till it's free
The love in your heart
Wasn't put there to stay
Oh love isn't love till you give it away."[4]

In the motion picture version, the song was filmed in and around a gazebo which is still visited by hundreds of tourists each day doing "Sound of Music" tours around Salzburg though the gazebo interiors were filmed in Hollywood.

State Farm Remix

State Farm Insurance released an ad campaign featuring a remix of the show tune as a rock song. It was produced by the audio production firm Modern Music.

This song was used twice on Family Guy. The song is heard in the episode "Family Gay"[5] and Lois sings the song to her daughter Meg in the episode "Peter's Two Dads," trying to guess how old she is.

The song was reimagined by Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders in an episode of their sketch show French and Saunders where, as one of several sketches based on the movie, the two sit in the gazebo singing the lyrics "I am French/And you are Saunders".

The song was used as the outro music for "Tea Leaves," a fifth-season episode of the US television series Mad Men.[6]

The song was used in the 1996 British film Beautiful Thing. On the second night they share a bed, Jamie kisses Ste for the first time, and the song is heard playing at the end of the scene. The song continues playing through to the following scenes.

On May 4, 2000, Julia Louis-Dreyfus was a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman, ending her visit on the show by performing a rendition of the song with fellow Seinfeld co-star, Jerry Seinfeld himself.

Seohyun of Korean pop group Girls' Generation did a cover of it for their "Into the New World tour". It was later put on the tour album.

It is a part of the play in The Pacifier (starring Vin Diesel).


  1. "Sixteen Going On Seventeen reprise". Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  2. "Reprise: Sixteen Going on Seventeen". Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  3. "Sixteen Going on Seventeen (Reprise)".
  4. "Cowboy Lyrics". Love Isn't Love ('Til You Give It Away). Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  5. "Family Gay". Family Guy. Season 7. Episode 8. March 8, 2009.
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