Semisonic's "Closing Time" is not the bar room party song you think it is

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/01/28/semisonics-closing-time.html

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Todd in the Shadows has done a bunch of these. Worth exploring for music nerds:

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I just read over the lyrics again. I don’t care what he said or what he was thinking about when writing it, it’s about a bar closing. Takes a hard iteration to construe taking a newborn home from those lyrics and if that message had purveyed over the last call, you wouldn’t be writing about this song.

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download (5)

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I much prefer “Here Comes a Regular”, if we’re on this subject.

This is an exceptional solo performance by Paul.

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The interview doesn’t really match the headline here. Of course it’s that bar room closing party song you thought it was. It just has a different meaning for the songwriter given the circumstances at the time it was recorded and released.

Also, this tune is one of the corniest balls of formulaic cheese I’ve ever heard, it’s unbearable. But I always thought there was an interesting spiritual interpretation of the lyrics in which the bar closing is a metaphor for death and the narrator seeks some kind of deliverance.

He made a nice choice to add that grit to the guitar “solo.” It’s the only grit in the whole tune. He’s a nice guy, too, to be fair.

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I JUST went down this rabbit hole and binged all of his 1 hit wonders.

Though really, I thought it was obvious that the song had more meaning that just a literal bar.

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From a non-US perspective, there are some weird songs on there; bands that were huge elsewhere, but considered one-hit wonders in the US.

Everything But The Girl, Midnight Oil, Divinyls, etc.

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Yes, he repeatedly mentions many one hit wonders here were huge in their home country.

The one I found the most odd was Scatman John was HUGE in Japan. Like the 17th best selling foreign album in Japan. Look at this list. Everyone else on there is mostly a long running, established act like The Beatles and Queen and Mariah Carey.

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I always felt like the song had an existential dimension. Though, to be fair, I feel that way about everything, doubly so when it involves booze.

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Then there are artists who are famous in countries other than their own and completely unaware of it for many years.

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I thought so too, the song has a very sad melancholic feel which to me read as the bar being a metaphor for some kind of chapter ending in someone’s life.

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So the artist tells you what the song is about, but that’s not what the song is really about. It’s really about what you thought it was about the whole time. “This room won’t be open 'til your brothers or your sisters come” totally makes sense if there is one, and only one, meaning to the lyrics of the song, which is a bar closing. I don’t know, seems like a boring way to look at music.

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Thanks for the signal boost. I look forward to working my way though these.

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One of my favorite parts about the interview is actually how Wilson takes about deliberately injecting two meanings into every line. It’s just a simple but effective songwriting strategy.

One word:

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slow day?

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Regardless of what it’s actually about, it’s a great song to shut down a bar since no one wants to hang around and listen to that garbage.

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BTW, because it’s one of the better ones and doesn’t appear to be included on that playlist:

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I don’t personally care for the song, but if it’s so bad then why would bartenders repeatedly subject themselves and each other to it?

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