If you've heard of Semisonic at all, you were probably introduced to them with their single "Closing Time." When Feeling Strangely Fine was released in 1998, I was a lonely, single college student. Did I mention lonely? Completely hopeless might be a better word for it. How bad was it? The idea of going to a local bar, locking eyes with some beauty, and either doing the taking home or being taken home sounded… almost romantic. That's the power of a good hook and a good chorus. You can take the desperate pursuit of a casual shag and make it the thing of dreams. They had a word for people like me. That word is loser. We can add to the list of adjectives I've used to describe myself thus far: clueless. It turns out "Closing Time" isn't exactly about what we all thought it was about.
If you thought it was a song about what happens in every bar in every town, join me in taking a lap. That's the imagery of the song, but there's actually something else going on and I completely missed it. Maybe I was supposed to miss the point, but after reading Semisonic drummer Jake Slichter's memoir about his time with the band, I learned about the subtext Behind The Music.
As the band were recording FSF, Dan and his wife were expecting their first child. Where Scott Stapp of Creed saw the news of pending fatherhood as an opportunity to write overwrought drivel, Wilson was much more creative. The song that took Semisonic from relative obscurity to chart dominance was a song about a child "being sent forth from the womb as if by a bouncer clearing out a bar."
Sometimes getting the secret decoder ring for a song ruins it because you can never hear it the way you used to but as soon as I read Slichter's words, the song made more sense to me, not less. I can sing along with it and let it be a fun, catchy as hell pop song or I can use the key and unlock the ideas that were hidden from my view upon first listen.
I went to a party at a friend's house not long after hearing this song. People were drinking and looking for some cheap thrills or a hookup. It's not much of an exaggeration to say there were two sober people at this gathering. Two years later, I married her. Every new beginning does come from some other beginning's end.