Song of The Day: The Replacements' "Here Comes A Regular"!

Spend enough time on Facebook and you're bound to wander into the middle of a heated discussion between well-versed men - who all happen to live alone, go figure - to determine the Greatest Song Ever Written. It's a ridiculous question, but given a choice between verb wrestling with some total strangers or doing some actual work, this writer is all too eager to jump into the mud.

Thing is, I'm always caught off-guard by the question, feeling there's some song that I'm forgetting...

Then a couple weeks go by and I put on a mix CD with no label and am pleasantly surprised to hear the Replacements' "Here Comes A Regular" among the collection of seemingly random tracks. By the time the song ends, I've long stopped whatever project I'd been working on (Hey, do you smell something burning? Ed.) and am sitting their slackjawed.

This is the song!

This is the Greatest Song Ever Written.

"Well a person can work up a mean mean thirst
After a hard day of nothin' much at all."
With an opening line like that, the only place to go is down for most writers, but Westerberg ups the ante with

"Summer's passed, it's too late to cut the grass
There ain't much to rake anyway in the fall."
Now, there's "quaint and observational" and then there's soul-stirring genius found in words so simple, so matter of fact, delivered with just the right amount of detachment.

But as the song continues, Westerberg becomes more and more invested. What began as a whimsical observation

"And sometimes I just ain't in the mood
To take my place in back with the loudmouths."

Right about now, you're picturing a place in your mind...pool table in the back full of loud-talking back-slappers...the smell of decades of spilled beer and cigarette butts...dead-eyed men with hands permanently curled around a shot glass who only look alive for that fleeting moment the liquor touches their lips.

"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."

If this writer were to take a wild guess, it would be to suggest that these were throwaway lines that Westerberg wound up keeping for no other reason than they wound up working well enough.  Upon further review, though, they're loaded with sublime brilliance: "I used to live at home, now I stay at the house"? What does that even mean?

What makes Westerberg the genius that he is is knowing enough to keep lines like that when they do fall out of the sky.

Musically speaking, one imagines it would have been very easy to make this a full band song, but Westerberg knew enough to keep it stripped naked and unflinching. By the song's last chorus, what began as somber and conversational has turned into a jubilant barroom sing-along:

"Here comes a regular
Call out your name
Here comes a regular
Am I the only one who feels ashamed?"

A lesser writer would have stopped there, but not Westerberg. Instead, he plows on, delivering a verse that plays in the mind like a movie, or a memory, that we can never quite put our finger on.

 "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."

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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