John Ondrasik yearns to return his youth in the self-indulgent “100 Years.”
A sentimental piano opens the single, setting an all-knowing tone. He’s 15 years old. Life is great. He is growing up and dating his first serious girlfriend. Then, at 22, they are still involved. Their lives are going smoothly and everything is they way they planned.
“I’m 15 for moment/Caught in between 10 and 20/And I’m just dreaming/Counting the ways to where you are/I’m 22 for a moment/She feels better than ever/And we’re on fire/Making our way back from Mars.”
In the chorus, he tells his past self to not rush through life. Time is a constant. Being 15 is an age he would like to repeat again. Life will eventually end.
“15 there’s still time for you/Time to buy and time to lose/15, there’s never a wish better than this/When you only got 100 years to live.”
As he enters his mid-30s, he still sees himself as a teenager. However, he is now an adult and part of the establishment. He’s married and his wife is going to have a baby soon. Then, it’s time for another birthday. He’s 45 and going through a mid-life crisis. He buys the expensive car. He cheats on his wife. He wishes he could be young again.
“I’m 33 for a moment/Still the man, but you see I’m a they/A kid on the way/A family on my mind/I’m 45 for a moment/The sea is high/And I’m heading into a crisis/Chasing the years of my life.”
In the chorus, he advises the teenagers he sees to take in each moment. He watches them loiter around, listening to their laughter. He doesn’t mind their racy language or immaturity. It reminds him how he used to be.
“15 there’s still time for you/Time to buy, time to lose yourself/Within a morning star/15 I’m all right with you/15, there’s never a wish better than this/When you only got 100 years to live.”
In the bridge, he remarks that he has become an old man. His grandchildren ask him what life was like when he was their age. The years are going by quickly. He has a dozen medications. With every sunrise, he knows it’s one day closer to death.
“Half time goes by/Suddenly you’re wise/Another blink of an eye/67 is gone/The sun is getting high/We’re moving on.”
In the last verse, he is 99 and on his deathbed. He’s hoping for another minute to live. His life is flashing before his eyes: he remembers the crush he had on his wife in high school, their courtship and the family they created together. Every day was wonderful.
“I’m 99 for a moment/Dying for just another moment/And I’m just dreaming/Counting the ways to where you are/15 there’s still time for you/22 I feel her too/33 you’re on your way/Every day’s a new day.”
In the final chorus, he says to the teenagers that they have so many choices. Their life is ahead of them.
“15 there’s still time for you/Time to buy and time to choose/Hey 15, there’s never a wish better than this/When you only got 100 years to live.”
Ondrasik peaked at 15. He spent each day trying to recreate that feeling he had. Unfortunately, he’s unable to appreciate the joys of his life. He clung to being 15 until the end of his life. Nothing could match it: his wife, his children, etc. It’s not until he closes his eyes for the last time that he enjoys it. By then it’s too late.
“100 Years” is a predictable lecture about living life to the fullest.