In 1998, a song called Closing Time came out as the debut single from a band called Semisonic. The song featured lyrics (ostensibly) about a lonely person's experience during last call at a bar. It would be Semisonic's only hit -- but what a hit. Closing Time was immediately and permanently the go-to song for the end of the night at bars, weddings, bar mitzvahs, parties, quinceaneras and Semisonic concerts.
But here's the thing. No one reazlied Semisonic had a little of that Robert Frost mojo in them.
It turns out the entire song was actually a metaphor for childbirth.
Semisonic's lead singer, Dan Wilson, explained during a performance at his 25th reunion at Harvard...
"Millions and millions of people bought the song and heard the song and didn't get it. They think it's about being bounced from a bar but it's about being bounced from the womb."
So let's go line-by-line through Closing Time and try to interpret it in its alternative context.
Closing time, open all the doors and let you out into the world
Doors = the vagina. We're off to a smashing start.
Closing time, turn all of the lights on over every boy and every girl
The "boy/girl" stuff makes more sense now. And I guess this line refers to hospital lights? Unless it's a metaphor on top of a metaphor and is referring to the beginning of human consciousness or something.
Closing time, one last call for alcohol so finish your whiskey or beer
Gee, wonder why people thought this was really about a bar? Is whisky and beer like one last quick suck of nutrients from the umbilical cord?
Closing time, you don't have to go home but you can't stay here.
So this is quite definitively the child being bounced from the womb.
I know who I want to take me home / I know who I want to take me home / I know who I want to take me home / Take me home
The baby wants his parents to take him home? This feels a little insecure, like Dan Wilson was worried his baby might've rejected him for one of the guys from Better Than Ezra.
Closing time, time for you to go out to the places you will be from
Logical. Makes more context in the childbirth sense than the bar sense actually.
Closing time, this room won't be open till your brothers or your sisters come
Makes way more sense. The womb wasn't available until the other siblings got out of there. Although I'm not sure that this line is really spectacular in the bar OR pregnancy contexts.
So gather up your jackets
Move it to the exits
There's that vagina talk again.
I hope you have found a friend.
Makes sense for twins, perhaps? Otherwise I'm not sure this works in the macro picture.
Closing time, every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.
Sure thing, makes sense, pregnancy ends, life begins, lightning crashes.
And from here on, it's just the chorus a few more times and a few repeated lines. Verdict: It really might be about childbirth, with a few serious red herrings thrown in.
Next week: Perhaps I can examine whether the Counting Crows' Mr. Jones is secretly about the Nancy Kerrigan's knee.
This post was originally published on Thursday, April 23, 2015 at 11:00:00 AM under the category Music.