Single Again is a column on Radio.com where Dan Weiss investigates chart hits of the past and present, their stories and what they meant and how good they really are.
For this edition of Single Again, Radio.com spoke to Dan Wilson of Semisonic about the band’s massive 1998 hit “Closing Time,” which went to #1 on the Modern Rock chart and received a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Song. Wilson’s currently an in-demand songwriter for the likes of Adele, Taylor Swift, Spoon and countless others, and he’s just released a new solo album, Love Without Fear.
You admitted pretty early on that “Closing Time” was about expecting a child. Did a lot of people guess that?
No, no, nobody guessed it. That experience was interesting because I thought the double meaning would be really fun for people. I thought people would get that it was about getting thrown out of the bar at the end of the night, but also getting thrown out of the womb at the beginning of your life. And I thought that was a fun pairing of meetings. But nobody got the double meaning because the bar image was so strong that it overpowered the other. So it taught me you can’t be too clever.
Do you ever wish you let the mystery simmer longer?
No. It’s interesting, I think the song has such a huge life of its own that I can tell a dozen different stories about what it means and I don’t really think it will really affect how people perceive the song. It’s wonderful how that song is bigger than…any of us who were involved in it.