Minnesotan and Semisonic front man Dan Wilson wins 3rd Grammy Award

A man holds a grammy
Minnesotan Dan Wilson, winner of the "Best Country Song" award for "White Horse," poses in the press room during the 66th GRAMMY Awards at Crypto.com Arena on Sunday.
Alberto E. Rodriguez | Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Minnesotan Dan Wilson took home the award for Best Country Song at the Grammy Awards on Sunday.

The songwriter and Semisonic front man won for “White Horse,” which he co-wrote with singer Chris Stapleton.

They were up against Tyler Childers’ “In Your Love,” Brandy Clark’s “Buried,” Luke Combs’ “Fast Car” and Dolly Parton’s “The Last Thing On My Mind.”

Wilson was also nominated for Song of the Year for “Butterfly,” co-written with Jon Batiste.

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They lost in that category against Billie Eilish’s “What Was I Made For?” that was featured on the Barbie soundtrack.

The win was Wilson’s third Grammy. He won Song of the Year in 2006 for “Not Ready to Make Nice” with the Chicks and in 2011 for Album of the Year for “21” with Adele.

In October, he spoke with MPR News about his songwriting process.

“I try to kind of bring myself to the session, my own sense of what might be a good idea, what I’d like to hear them say in a song — what I’d like to hear from them as a fan almost,” he said.

Wilson is up for an Oscar next month for his songwriting work on the movie “American Symphony.”

Audio transcript

[CHRIS STAPLETON, "WHITE HORSE"] This love is getting kind of dangerous. Feels like it's a loaded gun.

NINA MOINI: Lots of great music today. I love it. It's Minnesota Now. I'm Nina Moini in for Cathy Wurzer. You're listening to the song "White Horse" by Chris Stapleton, which took home a Grammy last night for the Best Country Song. And Minnesota's own Dan Wilson is sharing that award. He co-wrote the song with Stapleton. Dan Wilson is the front man for Semisonic.

And when he's not writing music for his band, he's collaborating with a lot of big stars. In fact, Wilson has two other Grammys for co-writing with The Chicks and Adele. Wilson is also up for an Oscar next month for co-writing the song "It Never Went Away" with Jon Batiste for his documentary. In October, I spoke to Wilson about songwriting. I started by asking him what it's like to see other people enjoying and finding meaning in his music.

DAN WILSON: It's funny because when I was-- when I was starting out, I experienced it from the other side. I was obsessed with certain artists and I listened so carefully to their music and I was so into it that it didn't really occur to me that I could turn the tables and be the person that provided that experience for other people. That was a slow process. And I almost only really awakened to it in the middle of my music career. I didn't really realize that that's what it really was about, was that two-way street that is being a music-- a music listener and a music maker.

NINA MOINI: What does it feel like when people tell you how meaningful your music has been for them and just their memories?

DAN WILSON: It's kind of surreal. It's a little bit crazy, but I feel happy. You know, sometimes people will say that a certain song of mine got them through a really tough time and then they'll describe the tough time and I'll almost feel like unworthy of being part of that healing process.


DAN WILSON: Because, you know, sometimes, it's just people will say these super important things. I just feel kind of honored to be helpful in that way.

NINA MOINI: Yeah, and, I mean, when I think about all the different styles of artists that you've made music with, it's almost sort of like you're like a songwriting chameleon. Do you try to write for them from another perspective or how do you write for different folks?

DAN WILSON: I'm not sure if I'm a chameleon. I think what I do is I try to kind of bring myself to the session my own sense of what might be a good idea, what might be-- maybe what I'd like to hear them say in a song, my collaborator, what I'd like to hear from them as a fan almost. So I'm still very much myself in the sessions. I'm just more focused on, let's make it as much you as we possibly can right now, not me.

NINA MOINI: You grew up in St. Louis Park, but you live in Los Angeles these days. I bet the weather is pretty nice there. How connected are you still with the Minneapolis music scene here?

DAN WILSON: Oh, well, I get back as often as I can. I was actually in Minneapolis visiting my family this past weekend.


DAN WILSON: And I have a lot of musician friends still in the Twin Cities and, you know, either just friends for friends sake or sometimes collaborative friends as well. So that's still a big part of my life.

NINA MOINI: Sure. One of the neat things on Minnesota Now when they have artists on, we like to ask them for a song that's inspired them. And so we asked you. And you chose the 1976 song "Coyote" by Joni Mitchell, a storyteller for sure. Let's listen to a bit of that.

[JONI MITCHELL, "COYOTE"] No regrets, coyote. We just come from such different sets of circumstance. I'm up all night in the studios and you're up early on your ranch. You'll be brushing out a brood mare's tail while the sun is ascending. And I'll just be getting home with my reel to reel. There's no comprehending.

NINA MOINI: So what is it that made you choose that Joni Mitchell song?

DAN WILSON: Well, that Joni Mitchell song I first heard when I was a teenager and I was making a lot of music and I had heard mostly pretty, you know, pop things, The Beatles, and great stuff, Carole King, Motown. And that song was just so different from all the other songs. And it was such a, it was all about the story and the kind of atmosphere. And later in life, like when I was 16 when I first heard the song, I didn't really know about wanderlust or even leaving home or traveling. And later, the song's theme of being like a troubadour, a wanderer, traveling the world and making music, I didn't even realize that's what it was about at first. But then I related to it on that level. So it's just a beautiful thing.

NINA MOINI: Again, that was Grammy winner Dan Wilson. Also, Joni Mitchell performed at the Grammys for the first time ever last night. The 80-year-old had a moving performance of her song "Both Sides Now."

[JONI MITCHELL, "BOTH SIDES NOW"] --castles in the air.

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