Direct Hits is a series where we talk about random songs that no one remembers but, for whatever reason, hit you directly in the feels whenever you hear them. Send us your own.
February 2004: I’m a senior in high school. One Thursday, something startles me awake in the middle of the night, and I peer outside to see how hard the predicted snow is falling, hoping there’s enough to justify a school cancellation in the morning. What I’m not expecting to see is a trailer, or maybe a camper, engulfed in flames in my neighbor’s backyard. I wake up my mom to see, and as I’m about to dial 9-1-1 for the first time in my life, a fire truck pulls up. I put the phone down and watch the action for awhile, the trailer like the Old Testament’s burning bush lighting up our semi-rural neighborhood. It’s not clear how the fire started, and the trailer’s owner doesn’t appear to be home. It’s weird and creepy and doesn’t really involve or affect me but I process it like a Sign From The Universe anyway because that’s what happens when you’re 18 and trying to connect all the dots.
A few days earlier, a classmate of mine died under somewhat mysterious circumstances: possibly an accident, possibly suicide. Rumors are flying rampant around school, and the administrators won’t let anyone hang up messages on his locker or write about him in the newspaper or otherwise acknowledge that he isn’t going to graduate, isn’t going to college, isn’t going to have a life longer than the almost-18 years he’d been allotted, the lifespan the rest of us were so anxious to outgrow and move on from.
I didn’t know him well, and I’m mostly okay, except for every time I hear this cheesy-ass song on the radio. It’s terrible and schlocky and I hate myself for tearing up at that dumb piano riff. Little do I know that twelve years later, I’ll write a blog post about it with a lump in my throat because I still won’t be able to handle this fucking song. But I’ll be grateful for that in a way, because it means my classmate won’t be forgotten, even by someone who wasn’t close to him. I’ll wonder whether anyone else from our class ever thinks of him, especially during February, this terrible month that seems, every year, to take all it can from us without giving much back. I’ll wish his family knew that I do remember, that I wish it hadn’t turned out this way. And if I need an awful song to remind me, well, then may “100 Years” live on in occasional rotation on soft-rock radio in perpetuity.