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Semisonic - Closing Time



Power pop hit "Closing Time" by American rock band Semisonic checks all the boxes for a novelty hit: an infectious melody, an easy-to-memorize chorus and a meditative double-meaning. That's right: while lyrics such as "Closing time/One last call for alcohol so finish your whiskey or beer/Closing time/You don't have to go home but you can't stay here," detail last-call at a bar, frontman Dan Wilson argues that the song's meaning is much deeper.




Semisonic - Closing Time


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The indie band's 1998 breakthrough track did pretty well for its time: it was an instant radio hit, reached number one on the US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks and charted in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. But, for a song written in 20 minutes, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the meaning behind the track sounds way more profound than we could've guessed.


As The Hollywood Reporter writes, the tune was written on tour as a closing song (shocker) specifically to close out the band's sets. After years of touring for four nights a week, the group grew bored with closing out each night with the same track. "My bandmates were tired of ending our sets with the same song, so there was kind of an uprising where they demanded something different to end our nights with," said Wilson. "So I thought, "OK, I'll write a song to close out the set," and then boom, I wrote "Closing Time" really fast."


Yet, the song began to take on a whole new life of its own once Wilson received some big news. Per Billboard, Wilson's girlfriend told the frontman that she was pregnant, which prompted the lyric-heavy tune relating to life, birth and fatherhood. "We had spent seven years of our lives at that point, four nights a week entertaining people. That was our life," WIlson told Billboard. "Some bouncers yelling things, closing time coming, all that imagery, literally, that's how the song started and then when I was halfway done, I started realizing the whole thing was a pun about being born, so I just made sure that the rest of the thing could ride with that double meaning, but nobody got the joke and I didn't bother to explain."


Production on the song began days before Wilson's girlfriend delivered their first baby three months premature, which led to a months-long hospital stay for the newborn. As HuffPost reports, Wilson would leave the studio several times a day to visit his struggling daughter fighting for her life in the hospital.


"The reports from the doctors and nurses were alternately hopeful and grim," drummer Jacob Slichter told HuffPost. "Nick offered to postpone the recording if that's what Dan wanted. Jim and Hans assured Dan that canceling the sessions would be no problem, but Dan and Diane decided that recording would provide Dan a welcome relief from pacing the halls of the neonatal intensive care unit. The studio was a short drive from the hospital, and he could still visit several times a day. So we started to record our second album, which had become both an art project and an emotional lifeboat."


\"I think that's been going on a really, really long time,\" said Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins. \"I think back in the '70s, they used to pay people with hookers and cocaine, and now they're just doing it with straight-up money -- so they can go out and buy their own hookers and cocaine.\"


Spitzer said that despite the sweeping use of iPods and the Internet to get music, it still all comes down to airtime. \"Airtime drives sales, sales means revenue, and the way a song gains popularity is still to be heard over the air by the listening audience.\"


\"Historically, it had been cash, other contraband, favors of illicit sorts, that were given to deejays to get airtime for various labels, but the process and mechanisms of payola became more institutionalized over the decades,\" Spitzer explained. \"[It's] slightly more sophisticated, slightly more corporate,\" he said, \"but the essence of the scam is still the same.


The key to Spitzer's investigation was internal record company e-mails that the attorney general said lay it out in black and white: who got paid what for which song, including songs by Jennifer Lopez. He said the e-mails revealed how Sony BMG bought airtime for J. Lo's \"Get Right\" last year. Each play is called a spin in the record business.


Dave Field, CEO of Entercom, declined to be interviewed by \"Primetime.\" Spitzer said his team of investigators is now going through boxloads of subpoenaed documents from Entercom and the eight other biggest radio companies, including ABC, to see if they are involved in payola. Of the six companies that responded to \"Primetime,\" all said they are cooperating and take the issue seriously.


Music videos can sometimes be like visual sponges - they seem to embody whatever the visual style is at the time. That's why it's especially easy to pick out music videos from 1998 - for some reason, a huge chunk of videos from this year are tinted green and blue. Not all of them, of course, but enough to notice.


The storyline is that Semisonic lead singer Dan Wilson and his girlfriend (Denise Franco) are in opposite screens. Wilson is in the Semisonic rehearsal space, and his girlfriend is just closing up some sort of store. She calls him and he answers too late, and then they go to each other's location to try to find each other but they aren't there. Then they go to a party and miss each other again.


Watching this in 2014 it's hard to remember that this sort of "just missed someone" thing actually could have happened in 1998. In 2014 times, Wilson could just get to the party and text "hey im here where r u" and they'd find each other pretty quick. Obviously nobody has a cell phone in this video because when Wilson comes out of the party at the end it feels like these two will literally never meet again, especially since the other camera doesn't settle on her on the end - we really have no clue where she is either.


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