Closing Time – Semisonic

There are some songs that I find so insanely cloying, yet for some reason they also maintain a semblance of wistfulness. Songs that lead to dialogue in my head that goes like this: “Ugh! I hate (am sick of) this song! Why am I crying?” And I feel simultaneously manipulated and weak for succumbing to such manipulation. Usually this happens when I cannot control the source of the music, like when a song is playing in a grocery store or someone else’s car or a restaurant.

And the thing is, the lyrics to the song don’t even have to be sad. I’m not talking “Cat’s in the Cradle” here. There just has to be some small hint of longing; it could be a minor chord, it could be a stupid line like, I know who I want to take me home. Maybe you are single and lonely and easily susceptible to cliches and banal lyrics like this remind you of going back to your studio apartment alone (again) and that dull ache in your gut has suddenly turned to a stabbing pain and CAN YOU FUCKING CHANGE THIS SONG, BARTENDER!! Can’t you play something empowering, like THIS?

And maybe you are in a relationship or married and blissfully happy, but when that goddamned song came out (in 1997) you were single and so when it appears out of nowhere to assault your eardrums and tear ducts, it brings the heartache right back, like you suddenly reverted into the former self you were determined to keep buried.

Cause who, listening to this song for the first time today, would be moved to tears? I mean, look at the lyrics. They are alternately generic and idiotic. Let’s discuss.

Closing time                                                                                                                                                         Open all the doors and let you out into the world
Closing time
Turn the lights up over every boy and every girl.
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.

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

Closing time
Time for you to go out to the places you will be from.
Closing time
This room won’t be open ’til your brothers or your sisters come.
So gather up your jackets, and move it to the exits
I hope you have found a friend.

Closing time
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

First off, who is the narrator here? The verse is some 3rd person, a bartender or an all-knowing force (you). Then the chorus is 1st person (me). That’s already confusing. I mean, there are songs that pull off the dual perspective thing really well (usually via two characters/duet, a la “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” – not sure why that was the first example to pop in my head), but this is not one of them.

And then there are these two lines:  Time for you to go out to the places you will be from. /  Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

I think they are meant to be read/heard as poetic or deep, but come off as obtuse and non-sensical. Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end?  That’s like some bullshit I would have come up with while really stoned in 11th grade.

But, yet. BUT YET. There I am in the middle of the freezer aisle at Safeway, innocently shopping for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Mint Chocolate Cookie and the next thing I know, tears are streaming down my face and I’m filled with a profound feeling that I’ll forever be alone. And the worst part of it is that it’s the instrumental musak version of Closing Time.

Read more:  Semisonic – Closing Time Lyrics | MetroLyrics

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