NOTE TO READERS: I had long known and loved the song, "Closing Time," and then, when I reconnected with a dear friend, the amazing poet Suzanne Wise, this past fall, I got to meet Jacob Slichter, the drummer from the band, Semisonic, that did the song.
Besides being a talented musician, and a really wonderful person, Jacob is my friend Suzanne's husband (they married in 2007.) He's also the author of a great book, "So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star." If you've ever had fantasies about being a glamorous rock star (and even if you haven't) you really ought to read Slichter's book. You'll come away with a whole new view of rock stardom.
Slichter writes beautifully, and he takes you deep inside the often cut-throat and bizarre (and illegal!) workings of the music industry. Seeing it from Slichter's point of view is absolutely fascinating, and so often hilarious (I often laughed out loud reading, especially his descriptions of the wacky proposed "scripts" for the band"s MTV video!) Slichter has a razor-sharp eye, and a finely-tuned sense of humor. But what makes the book a real stunner is that he is willing to be so brutally honest about how the music business works, and about how deeply ambivalent a star he was.
The excerpt below tells the emotionally-wrenching tale behind the band's hit song. Just as Semisonic began producing the album that contains "Closing Time," writer Dan Wilson's wife delivered their first baby three months premature! For months they weren't at all sure that little Coco would survive. Wilson would leave the studio several times a day to visit his struggling daughter fighting for her life in the hospital.
And then, the same day that "Closing Time" hit the radio, there was another much more extraordinary celebration: Coco was finally after almost a YEAR able to leave the hospital and go HOME!
"I know who I want to take me home, I know who I want to take me home....take me home."
I'm listening to these lyrics right now and knowing the story behind the song, I am a sheet of goosebumps. My daughter, Jocelyn Kirsch, has worked long and hard in neonatal intensive care units in hospitals in Boston; I visited her once and saw babies, wired and tubed, who could fit inside a big teacup. I've also grown close to a couple of those miracle children (Jocelyn became friends with their parents!) If you knew little Sammy and Maggie, you too would celebrate. At age four, in November, 2009, they became the flower girl and the ring bearer at Jocelyn and Evan's wedding.
The parents of preemies are absolutely heroic. Dan and Diane Wilson are one such heroic couple.
Thanks Jake, and to the band, for their story. And yours. And that great song, one that is impossible to stop singing. All of your art is such a gift!