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“Here Comes A Regular” is the Mats’ masterpiece that could have come from Bruce Springsteen, Jason Isbell, Ryan Adams or Raymond Carver.
Even if we told you The Replacements mashed up everything that made ’70s rock matter — the energy of punk, the swagger and slop of the Stones, the introspection of the most sensitive singer/songwriters, and the sing-along hooks of power pop — that might not be enough to convert you. You might walk away from the records turned off by the brash aggression we fell in love with when they were inventing alternative rock in the ’80s, and remain somehow undiminished on the stages of their reunion tour. No oldies show here: They’re bringing all the fire and commitment expected of the band that built and burned the bridge between the Sex Pistols, Nirvana, Green Day and Wilco. So, yeah, we love them, yet we get that The Replacements aren’t for everyone.
But at least one song of theirs is. That’s why we’re begging — begging — you to check out their barroom ballad, “Here Comes A Regular.” It’s as far from the snarling rock The Replacements are known for as The Stones’ “Wild Horses” is from “Brown Sugar” or Lennon’s “Imagine” is from “Revolution.”
It’s equal parts tragic and inspiring that Westerberg wrote this song in his twenties given the stale stench of cigarettes, booze and abandoned dreams that inhabit “Here Comes A Regular,” not to mention a cast of characters Springsteen could have dredged out of The River. Like the love songs Ryan Adams’ used to write to Hollywood’s crappiest bars, this one sounds like it was scrawled on the back of a cocktail napkin and mumbled out during a lonely stumble home. It’s a song that reinforces the self-pity active drunks romanticize while reassuring recovering drunks that sobering up was the only option left.
Maybe that’s why Westerberg is leaving his masterpiece off the setlists. He sobered up. He’s not a regular anymore. But “Here Comes A Regular” still stands alongside the most desolately gorgeous writing of Leonard Cohen, Eliot Smith, Jeff Tweedy or even Raymond Carver.