Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Have you got a favorite drinking establishment? A place where the bartender's got your beer and shot ready the moment you crack the door? Where you've got your own stool, the shape of your ass cheeks permanently pushed in the cushion or worn into the wood, and the bar is bowed to accommodate your elbows? A place where, erm, well...everybody knows your name? Well then, my friends, you are a Regular.

In his day, Paul Westerberg was surely a regular himself. He and his band The Replacements, who we consider the greatest American rock'n'roll band of all time (we dare you to prove us wrong), were certainly known for their exceedingly inebriated live shows, all drunken swagger and whiskey rebellion. Some would call these performances a sloppy mess. We prefer to refer to them as the essence of Rawk.

About mid-way through their career, The 'Mats traded in a bit of the loud, fast, and out of control tomfoolery for the occasional turn on reflection. With their song "Here Comes A Regular", which placed at a very pleasing #13 on our Top 100 Drinking Songs, The Replacements (Westerberg alone?) crafted a modern tear-in-your-beer tune to rival those of Mr. Waits and Mr. MacGowan.

A master lyricist, with a genius for a turn of the phrase, Westerberg could break your heart while spitting in your drink behind your back. With "Here Comes A Regular", he found the heart of sadness in the spinning neon bar signs. Suffused with regret and defiance, the song floats on a simple guitar line, Westerberg alone in the dust-moted spotlight on the stool. A good bar has few windows. It's the barest skiffle of a song, with the weight of the glass balanced by the changing of the seasons, viewed from the perch of the pint of no return.

Well a person can work up a mean mean thirst
after a hard day of nothin' much at all
Summer's passed, it's too late to cut the grass
There ain't much to rake anyway in the fall

And sometimes I just ain't in the mood
to take my place in back with the loudmouths
You're like a picture on the fridge that's never stocked with food
I used to live at home, now I stay at the house

And everybody wants to be special here
They call your name out loud and clear
Here comes a regular
Call out your name
Here comes a regular
Am I the only one here today?

Well a drinkin' buddy that's bound to another town
Once the police made you go away
And even if you're in the arms of someone's baby now
I'll take a great big whiskey to ya anyway

Everybody wants to be someone's here
Someone's gonna show up, never fear
'cause here comes a regular
Call out your name
Here comes a regular
Am I the only one who feels ashamed?

Kneeling alongside old Sad Eyes
He says opportunity knocks once then the door slams shut
All I know is I'm sick of everything that my money can buy
The fool who wastes his life, God rest his guts

First the lights, then the collar goes up, and the wind begins to blow
Turn your back on a pay-you-back, last call
First the glass, then the leaves that pass, then comes the snow
Ain't much to rake anyway in the fall

The Replacements: Here Comes A Regular(mp3)

The Replacements: Here Comes A Regular (LIVE)(mp3)

Please support your local "local", ya know.


Mark P said...

A hard day of nothin' much at all is some of the driest work I know. The way Westerberg turns the Cheers TV theme upside down here is pure genius. I tended a little bar in my day, the last time at a small place called the Neon Cactus. Weeknight shifts were five-to-closing. Sure enough, the regular crowd always shuffled in - middle-aged divorcees and confirmed bachelors with lousy jobs and not much to go home to. Dickel on the rocks, Heineken and a shot - no fru-fru drinks here. "Here Comes A Regular" playing in my head until they all shuffled out. Westerberg sure nails it here - the perfect songcraft he always promised, and mostly delivered.

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