Here Comes a Regular

The Replacements

Song Review by Steve Huey

The poignant drunkard's lament "Here Comes a Regular" was the closing track on the Replacements' 1985 masterpiece Tim, reinforcing Paul Westerberg's penchant for almost unbearably vulnerable acoustic balladry. The song dissected the psyches of the small crowd at a neighborhood bar, as well as the (probable) alcoholic who observed them; it was a humanizing portrait, yet one that didn't sentimentalize or sugarcoat their mostly hopeless existences. They find escape from their loneliness and boredom not only in drink, but in each other's presence. There's an unspoken agreement to make the other regulars feel welcome and special, to supply the antidotes for the emptiness and aimlessness in the other areas of their lives. "Everyone wants to be special here," sings Westerberg; "they call your name out loud and clear." The regulars act as a sort of camouflage for one another, constructing a cozy, artificial world that helps them ignore the grimness of reality. But that camouflage is tenuous and fragile; they can barely get along without one another. You can hear the edge of panic in Westerberg's cracking voice when he sings, "someone's gonna be here, never fear," and moments later, left alone with his thoughts, he whispers, "am I the only one who feels ashamed?" The narrator's problem is that his self-awareness is growing too powerful for him to numb -- he's unemployed, or at least directionless ("A person can work up a mean, mean thirst/After a hard day of nothing much at all"); he has nothing in particular to keep him going ("I'm sick of everything my money can buy/A fool will waste his life, God rest his guts"); and he's becoming too conscious of the escape offered by the bar to really lose himself in it. Musically, the song's arrangement is spare, focusing on Westerberg's acoustic guitar and plaintive voice. There are also occasional textural embellishments from what sounds like a bowed string instrument or a synth, which mirror the woozy melancholy of the lyrics and add a haunting touch. What's most haunting, though, is Westerberg's talent for straightforward soul-baring, which shines on "Here Comes a Regular" even in a catalog filled with poignant moments.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Tim 1985
Sire 4:46
All for Nothing/Nothing for All 1997 Reprise / Sire 4:45
Don't You Know Who I Think I Was?: The Best of the Replacements 2006 Rhino 4:49
Going the Distance [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] 2010
Various Artists
Watertower Music 4:47
The Complete Studio Albums: 1981-1990 2015 Rhino 4:47
Dead Man's Pop 2019 Rhino / Warner Bros. 5:19