The Hidden Meaning Of Semisonic's 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.

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.

It was inspired by 'new beginnings'

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."

A very happy ending

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."

It was the same day that "Closing Time" hit the radio that there was another much more extraordinary celebration: after nearly a year, Wilson's daughter Coco was able to leave the hospital and go home with her parents. Who knew "I know who I want to take me home" could be taken so literally.