The song Closing Time by Semisonic is quite popular from the late 90s up to early 2000s. It was one of the band’s most popular, if not the most popular song written by their lead vocalist Dan Wilson. The song was nominated for the Grammys for the best rock song in 1999. It also reached number one on the Modern Rock Tracks.
You probably heard this song being played on many bars at their last/final hour of serving time. When this music is played, all people know that it’s indeed the CLOSING TIME of that bar or establishment. Well, the lyrics quite say it all right?
According to an interview with Dan Wilson:
This remains a popular song at bars when they are ready to pack it up. There is no mistaking the message: "You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here." Semisonic vocalist and songwriter Dan Wilson told The Hollywood Reporter in a 2010 interview: "I really thought that that was the greatest destiny for 'Closing Time,' that it would be used by all the bartenders, and it was actually. It still is. I run into people all the time who tell me, Oh I worked in this one bar for four years and I heard your song every single night."Most people, including me, see this song as a bar song intended to end a gathering or to literally close an establishment that serves alcohol. But after hearing what this song is really about from the writer itself, Dan Wilson, my views literally changed and I surely won’t listen to this song the same way again. The meaning behind the lyrics is really powerful especially if you are a parent or expecting parent for your first born.
Wilson wrote the song when his wife was pregnant with their first child, their daughter Coco.
"It's all about being born and coming into the world, seeing the bright lights, cutting the cord, opening up into something deeper and more universal," Wilson told Mojo.
"I was initially trying to write a song to end the Semisonic shows with. We had always ended with a song called 'If I Run,' and I really liked it a lot. John and Jake, the other two members of the band, were always impatient with ending the show with the same song. So I set out to write a new closer for the set, and I just thought, 'Oh, closing time.' Because all the bars that I would frequent in Minneapolis, they would yell out 'closing time.' There was one bar where a guy always would scream really loud, 'You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here,' and I guess that always stuck in my mind.
So I started writing this song and it's just, 'Okay, you've got to go out into the light, make your way home, or wherever you're going to be.' Part way into the writing of the song, I realized it was also about being born. My wife and I were expecting our first kid very soon after I wrote that song. I had birth on the brain, I was struck by what a funny pun it was to be bounced from the womb."
Here’s the video of Dan Wilson performing "Closing Time" at his 25th reunion at Harvard's Sanders Theatre. Skip to the 3:44 mark to listen to his CLOSING TIME revelation.