Fifteen, There’s Still Time For You.

100-yearsDeep thoughts from the dentist’s chair tonight…

Given that my dentist likes to keep the acoustic station on, I get a chance to hear a bit of reflective music during my visits. Sometimes there’s even a country song thrown in there, like the unplugged version of Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” that I heard tonight.

But what jumped out at me the most was hearing Five For Fighting’s “100 Years.” I love this song. Early on in my teaching career, the priest presiding over our faculty retreat used it as a framework for a discussion on time.  The way it changes us, the way it slips away from us, the ways we try to manage it but it persistently remains in control of us.

There’s a line in there early one, “I’m fifteen for a moment,” that the chorus refers back to: “Fifteen there’s still time for you.” This year I’m turning thirty. It’s hard to believe that I’ve lived another fifteen years since fifteen, but I still remember who I was back then. Fate has been reconnecting me with high school friends that had been lost over time, and reconnecting me with what it was like to be that age in the process.

Back then, I knew what I wanted to be: a music industry hotshot in Nashville. I wanted to run a label, sign cool artists like Kim Richey and vote for the CMA awards. Time revealed that wasn’t who I wanted to be. One philosophy class with a teacher who knew my own reason for being before I discovered it myself put me on a different path, but I never would have met that teacher if not for my original dream.

But fifteen, there’s still time for you, and it’s called Country Universe, my way of staying in touch with the dreams of my youth. He’d certainly be pumped that grown-up me gets to talk to Kathy Mattea and work with a family of writers who share my enthusiasm for great country music and never tire of talking and writing about it.

What songs make you think deeply about life, and why?


  1. Great post.

    The first song that comes to mind is Jackson Browne’s “In the Shape of a Heart,” which I especially enjoy in its acoustic incarnation. It gets me thinking about the different ways I interpret my own experiences and feelings, plus the whole thing is shot through with regret, which is convenient for me, because that’s usually how I feel when I finally take the time for that kind of self-reflection.

  2. I grew up listening to Irish and folk music, so these aren’t from childhood.

    ‘Dearest Esmerelda’ off of John Denver’s second albumn.

    “Last Thing on my Mind’ -Tom Paxton

    Every Time That It Rains and Ireland – Garth Brooks

    The first two were from late teens/early adulthood; I had two kids in middle school when Garth hit!

  3. I love that song too, Kevin. In fact, We’re the same age (crazy). I always wanted to be a ‘big shot’ in Nashville and according to friends I’ve reconnected with, I somehow am. Is it crazy to think that I’m here now? Yeah. I originally was accepted to go to school in Boston to study music production (it was closer to my Upstate NY-based mom than Nashville) and had I went there like I planned, I’d never have moved to Seattle, enjoyed time with close relatives and went to a big University out there. That lead me to Teach in China (business English to college kids) and Korea (English speaking/reading/writing to Elementary/middle school kids) and then, out of the blue, to Nashville for Roughtock.

    So, yeah, “100 Years” resonates with me a lot. I also think One Flew South’s “Life” is a great song about life and, given my age, “My Next 30 Years” is somewhat relatable now.

  4. What a great post! I will have to think about this. One of my favorite things about country music is that, even [most] of even the modern songs tell a story, just like the more classic country songs. The difference is banjos and synthesizers.

    Although, I just had to bring up Taylor Swift’s song “Fifteen”, especially because of the song you referenced.

    “When you’re fifteen and somebody tells you that they love you, you’re gonna believe them. And when you’re fifteen don’t forget to look before you fall. I found time can heal most everything…you just might find who you’re supposed to be…” and then there’s even the bridge which goes onto say, “Back then I swore I was gonna marry him someday but I realized some bigger dreams of mine. And Abigail gave everything she had to a boy, who changed his mind. And we both cried”. I think the lyrics are very deep, especially coming from a songwriter who is just barely 4 years past the age of fifteen, and I think it describes the whole times of being a teenager and dreaming and getting through it in a very classy way….kind of like “Letter to Me” by Brad Paisley, however I consider both of those songs in different leagues.

    Just had to add my Taylor Swift reference, hopefully I’ll be able to narrow down one of the most aesthetic country songs that has made me think long and hard.

  5. Interesting thread. First of all, after reading this post I checked out the writer bios in the About Us section to see whose entries I’ve been making all these comments on in the past few weeks. (By the way, I discovered your site via I was surprised to find that, contrary to most people’s perceptions of a country fan, many of you are a lot like me. I’m also turning 30 next year, work in education and live on a coast (California). I discovered country music when I was in my early teens in Michigan. Although I do listen to all types of music, for some reason I’ve never found another genre that speaks to me like country.
    As for the topic at hand, I’m not sure if this counts but the first song that came to my mind was Wynonna’s “What the World Needs Now”. I had heard it before but it came on my iPod at the gym one day when I was on the treadmill watching a closed captioned CNN report on the aftermath of a college shooting. I have to admit, its simple message made my eyes a little misty. It’s all about timing I guess. I remember versions of Tim McGraw’s “Please Remember Me” and Lonestar’s “I’m Already There” being spliced with news footage from a similar tragedy and the war in Iraq respectively and I found them to be quite moving too.

    I suppose there are other songs that make me reflect on life (Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic”, Kathy Mattea’s “Standing Knee Deep In a River”, etc.) but these were the first to come to mind.

    Thank you.

  6. Kevin,

    What a truly beautiful post.

    The song that always does this for me is “Carefree Highway” by Gordon Lightfoot. I remember even when I was a kid and heard it for the first time, it made me self-reflective.

  7. Great post, Kevin. What I love about country music is that it has so many songs that make me reflect. Like Michael, it often has to do with timing for me. The last couple of months have been somewhat hectic and uncertain in a couple of areas for me. So, Wynonna’s “Rescue Me” really hit me when it came up on my ipod a month or so ago. I’ve liked that song all along, but it was like hearing it for the first time that day.

    Oddly enough, at around 15, I had a somewhat secret dream of being in the music business too. I really wanted it to happen, but never really took it seriously enough to actually pursue it. So, it’s funny that I “accidentally” landed here.

  8. Carson, I agree with you on “Fifteen” – It reminds me of when I was 15, and how long ago that was now.

    And Sugarland’s song “Hello”‘s last verse makes me think about life in general – How quickly it comes and go, and how sometimes memories are all the remain.

  9. Something about “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” has rung a bell for me ever since I was a kid. I always thought the truth about the darkness of the world was in that song, and that I should take heed.

  10. I’d definatly agree with “Hello” by Sugarland, for some reason it seems like it’s bittersweet in some way, which in some ways life often is. “Hello” in the lyric sense, reminds me of Deanna’s “Strawberry Wine” and the somber “Georgia Rain” by Trisha Yearwood

    Another mention is Faith’s “Secret Of Life” while I don’t consider it as moving as some of the other suggestions it sure makes you think about life.

  11. I love “100 Years” as well. I made a slideshow of family pictures a few years back and that is one of the key songs on it. That, and “Save the Last Dance for Me,” which I’ve always loved. Both songs make me feel incredibly nostalgic.

    It’s not country, but Green Day’s “Time of Your Life” is also a favorite. It came out right about the time I was transferring colleges, and it always reminds me that life might not take the path you expect, but that you have to appreciate the journey for what it is. (Cheesy, I know. ;)

    (Off topic, but with regards to Taylor Swift, you can actually hear some Five for Fighting influence in a few of her songs. I hear it in “White Horse,” for example)

    I’ll think about this longer and come back…

  12. Lynn,

    I love “Time of Your Life” too. It got me to like Green Day. I’m surprised, really, that country artists have covered Five For Fighting songs.

  13. Chris N,

    Have you heard Wynonna’s cover of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”? It’s more blues than country, but I love it.

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