Time to go home?

Time to go home?

Songs that signal closing time are meant to get people to get up– and get OUT– into the world…

When I was younger, I had a series of jobs that required me to work evenings. One job I had was working at a men’s clothing outlet, where I usually worked until closing time. Invariably, people would show up a few minutes before closing time to do their shopping. As I tried to get things straightened up for the end of the day, they would leisurely shop for pleated pants and matching sweaters, oblivious to my desire to call it a night.

Years later, I took a job waiting tables, where we’d have people show up a few minutes before closing time for late night noshing or perhaps a scrumptious dessert. Unlike a lot of my peers, I was less concerned about making an extra tip or two than I was about getting home. I seem to have been born without the business gene. Actually, those late night diners usually weren’t so bad. Many of them realized they were showing up late and we were about to close. But every once in awhile, there would be a lovestruck couple who would sit in the Garden Room of our restaurant and gaze passionately at each other while S-L-O-W-L-Y sipping their wine. They were oblivious to all the people they were holding up with their extended date. We’d stand around, side work all done, waiting for these people to pay their check. One couple was particularly clueless and our chef actually turned the lights down on them to give them a strong hint that it was time to GTFO.

Anyway, the other day I was sitting at my desk, listening to the 11,000 plus songs on my iPod, when a song from the late 1990s popped up. It was a song by Semisonic called “Closing Time”. I remembered it was played on the very last episode of the original incarnation of Melrose Place, a trashy 90s era primetime soap that I was hooked on back in the day.

The lyrics took me back to those many evening nights I waited for people to finish up and hit the road. This song brings more to mind barflies than restaurant patrons, but the sentiment is the same.

Lyle Lovett also has a song called “Closing Time”, though its mood isn’t nearly as much fun as Semisonic’s. Lyle Lovett’s “Closing Time” is a gentle ballad, with acoustic guitar and piano and Lovett’s sweet tenor. His song is more about a musician saying goodnight to an appreciative crowd and his roadies.

Speaking of appreciative songs for roadies, how about Jackson Browne’s “The Load Out”?

This is a great song to end a night to… whether you’re at one of Jackson Browne’s shows or trying to close up a restaurant.

While I’ve never heard Supertramp’s “Goodbye Stranger” used as a closing song, it occurs to me that it might make a good one, though I’ve always suspected this song was really about Supertramp’s Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson becoming increasingly annoyed with each other to the point of the band’s breakup.

Back in the early 90s, when I’d frequent karaoke night at a bar near my college, the karaoke jockey would signal the end of the evening by playing the theme song for Rawhide. I always thought that was pretty clever, since it got the point across without resorting to anything offensive. On the other hand, I don’t have any issues with using profanity if it’s effective. Another karaoke jockey I knew introduced me to Red Peters’ brand of comedy with this song…

The first time I heard this song, I about peed in my pants laughing. I can’t tell you how many times I had these very same thoughts running through my mind as I took care of the last stragglers sitting in my station. There’s a good reason why I don’t wait tables anymore. But I can still laugh at the memories and anyone who has spent an evening dealing with drunks or overly demanding people can relate.

If you want to be elegant about calling it a night, you could always play “Time To Say Goodbye” by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Boccelli, otherwise known as “Con te partirĂ²”.

Personally, I’m partial to the way Red Peters does it, even at his live shows. As a side note, I once played this at a party I threw because I wanted a couple of guests to hear it. They took it as a hint that I wanted them to leave. Luckily, they later forgave me. Be very careful how you use “The Closing Song”!

And with that, I bid you adieu until my next post…