Dan Wilson (born May 20, 1961) is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, visual artist, songwriter and producer. He is both a solo artist and the lead singer of the band Semisonic, for which he wrote the hits "Closing Time", "Secret Smile", and "Chemistry." Wilson was also a member of indie favorite Trip Shakespeare from the mid-1980s to early 1990s and of college bands Animal Dance, The Love Monsters and The Floating World in the early 1980s.
Currently, Wilson is perhaps best known for his co-writing and collaborations with other artists. He contributed three songs to the 2011 album 21 by UK singer-songwriter Adele, which has had the longest Top 5 run in history on the Billboard Album Chart and which won the 2012 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Wilson was part of that Grammy-winning team, as he co-wrote and produced the hit single "Someone Like You" which held the No. 1 position for 5 weeks in the U.S. and has remained in the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 for months. The song has topped the charts in many other countries as well, including the UK, Australia, France, and Germany. Wilson also co-wrote the song "Home" by Dierks Bentley, the second single for Bentley's 2012 album Home. The song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Country Singles Chart and was nominated for the 2012 Song of the Year award by both the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music. Wilson co-wrote Missy Higgins' 2012 single, "Everyone's Waiting," which reached #11 on the ARIA Charts and has remained in Australia's Top 40 for 8 weeks. Wilson co-wrote six songs for the 2010 Josh Groban album Illuminations, including the singles "Hidden Away" and "Higher Window", both of which charted on the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Chart. Wilson co-wrote six songs with the Dixie Chicks for their 2006 album Taking the Long Way, which garnered the coveted Album of the Year at the 2007 Grammy Awards. Wilson himself received the 2007 Grammy Award for Song of the Year for "Not Ready to Make Nice," one of the songs he co-wrote with the Dixie Chicks. His accolades as a songwriter have grown from success with his own band Semisonic. In 1999, Wilson was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rock Song for Semisonic's "Closing Time," which hit No. 6 in the Top 40 Chart and was No. 1 on the Modern Rock Chart.
Wilson's critically acclaimed first solo album Free Life was released in October 2007. He produced the album himself, with Rick Rubin serving as executive producer and writing the liner notes. Rubin wrote, “Dan’s music touches my soul. He is/has the perfect combination of inspiration and songcraft. He is a timeless artist whose music will feel as good in 50 years as it does today.” The eponymous title track, "Free Life," has been featured in a number of American television programs. Wilson is currently working on his second solo album.
When asked to describe who he sounds like, he notes "I hope I sound like Neil Young, Sea Change by Beck, Iron and Wine. I know I sound like Semisonic (can't help that!), Beatles but trying not to. I've been listening to a lot of Louis Armstrong lately, somehow that's going to seep into my songwriting."
Dan Wilson was born in Minneapolis. He attended Harvard University where he majored in visual arts (printmaking) and received the Louis Sudler Prize for outstanding artistic talent and achievement. He had a successful painting career, represented by Thomas Barry Fine Arts, with his works in numerous private and corporate collections. He set his painting aside in the late 1990s to focus on music. His brother is musician Matt Wilson of the band The Twilight Hours, whom he also played with in Trip Shakespeare.
Wilson is married to Diane Espaldon, and has two daughters - Corazon or "Coco", born in 1997, and Lily, adopted from the Philippines at age 2 in 2009.