Closing Time (1993-2001)

I think that's the way we experience our freedom today. It looks like freedom but it feels like death, it must be something in-between, I guess. It's closing time. I don't know about you, but I live a life that is totally consumed with ambiguity and conflict. I can't get anything straight. Anything I embrace, immediately, the polarity manifests and I can embrace it with the same kind of enthusiasm or shame or indifference or whatever the emotion was that caused me to embrace the former. But, it's this sense of the personal life that I've tried to bring to my songs. I think, for instance, when we hear public utterance today, like the language of the politician or the leader, whenever I hear a guy speaking, it's like : "Hasn't he heard the bad news?" You don't feel that anybody's heard the bad news, that they know how people are feeling. I think everybody's experiencing their daily life now as it looks like freedom but it feels like death. Closing time. The landmarks are down. The lights are out. The catastrophe has taken place. Don't wait around for it, you know. So, what is the proper behaviour, what is the appropriate behaviour in a catastrophe when you're holding on to your orange crate and the other guy's floating by and you're holding on to this broken flag staff. What do you do? You say, I'm Conservative? I'm Liberal? I'm pro-abortion? I'm against it? It seems to be completely inappropriate to the gravity of the situation. I've tried to create songs now, that are appropriate to the gravity of the situation where there's no public utterance without the understanding that it looks like freedom but it feels like death and it's "Closing time". Something's gone down. You ignore it at the peril of your self-respect or of your possible rescue.

Thank you so much friends, thank you so much. It doesn't help, it really doesn't help at all, I'm sorry. So you've been here for 23 years ! I really appreciate it, really appreciate it. It doesn't help at all. Some of you have written me over the years. You've sent me letters and flowers and I really appreciate it. But it just doesn't help at all. One damn thing leads to another just makes you feel worse and worse...I'm so happy to see every 5 or 6 years..Hope this can go on for another decade or two. I'm here to sing to your children and your grand-children. Let's not be selfish. Let's leave this distant rule to them. Maybe they can figure out how to work it out. Let's not pretend that we know anything about anything. This is a mess. Let's join hands and be in this mess together. Let's not pretend one of us has a solution that the other hasn't figured out. We're in this boat together It always amuses me to know we're in this catastrophy, the flood is calm, the landmarks are overturned, the lights are extinguished, each man holding to his piece of orange crate, broken flag staff , and we still hear "I'm for abortion", "I'm against abortion" "I'm for the left", "I'm for the right". In the midst of this urgency, how dare we speak. Our needs are so manifold we dare not declare them. And I lift my glass to the Awful Truth - Which you can't reveal to the Ears of Youth - Except to say it isn't worth a dime - And the whole damn place goes crazy twice - And it's once for the devil and it's once for Christ - But the Boss don't like these dizzy heights - We're busted in the blinding lights - Of Closing Time......

Yeah I've been in a lot of places like that; it's a kind of composite of a whole lot of places, and a whole lot of moments just before the lights come on - everybody's busted in the blinding lights of Closing time - just before you return to your civilian life, just before the Tour is over, just before the night's over, just before the girl says "Well, thanks a lot for the drink. Are we going home now ? " Well just that moment when you are propelled, catapulted and kind of disintegrated into the whole beautiful dismal experience of not having what you want and having it and (..) begin again and hoping you'll never have to start over.

I think "Closing Time" is just a sense that things as we know it are coming to an end, and that the flood is already here, the apocalypse has already occurred, like we don't need to wait for it. On the inner level, all the landmarks are down, and all the lights have been extinguished, and all the signs have been swept away. So we are in this period of closing time but all these songs, these sinister songs are married to, you know, hot little tracks….

Answering a fan who asked "When exactly is "Closing Time" ?

It's that wild, or beautiful, or terrible time when things reach their maximum point of expansion, and then begin to contract. It's the time we're in.

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