With Lucero's landmark 2003 full-length That Much Further West seeing a vinyl reissue this week via Sabot Productions, frontman Ben Nichols looked to the past and took us track by track through the release.
The words “That Much Further West” came about because even though I had been in Memphis for a number of years I was still very much attached to Arkansas where I was raised. I would still go to Little Rock a couple days every week. I still had family and friends there. It was always home and always would be no matter where I lived and it was just right there across the river to the west. Just a little further west.
“That Much Further West”
The song mentions the name Katie. Katie was Darby’s mother. There is a song about them both on our previous album, Tennessee. Katie was a close friend of our guitarist Brian Venable and she died very young. The song, in a way, could be about her going on ahead of us. We continue to do what we do here but we keep her in our thoughts and we figure we’ll catch up with her one day later on out west.
I’d been listening to a lot of Springsteen at the time. The lyrics to this one are very simple and straightforward and very much me trying to do my best to rip off Bruce. It’s just an empty town with nothing to do but drive around with your girl. The river could swallow the whole place and no one would notice. That kind of thing. Nothing real original here… but it might be my favorite song on the record.
“Sad And Lonely”
This song never got played live. That happens every now and again. I really like this song but maybe we could just never figure out how to do it justice on stage. This one is all about mood and the atmosphere of the song. I have to admit the lyrics aren’t about anyone in particular, it is not a very specific song personally, but I think mainly I was just trying to capture a feeling more than tell a story. It was a general feeling of running out of time and not being able to accomplish what you wanted and feeling like you want to give up and quit and you’ll never be any good. You know… everyday stuff. We should learn how to play this one day.
“Across The River”
I had a big ol’ crush on a girl who pretty much came to represent everything good that I missed about Arkansas, and Arkansas was always right there right across the river. We had an interesting kind of relationship. Even though we didn’t see each other all the time, when we did see each other it felt like we'd been together forever and it was the most natural thing in the world. There were other girls and other boys but we always got along great for the short amounts of time when we got to see each other. Still get along great, she just lives further away now. Yup. Further west.
“The Only One”
Ha. Me and Brian [Venable, guitarist] were fighting over a girl. And the whole band was living together at the time… so things could get pretty tense. Pretty straight forward lyrics. Everything is fine now.
“Hate And Jealousy”
A friend of mine once made me promise never to tell how I got the idea for the lyrics to this song. But here goes. You remember the movie Red Dawn? Remember when C. Thomas Howell is sitting by the fire carving notches into his sawed off shotgun for all the Russians he killed? Remember how Powers Boothe walks up to him and says, “All that hate is gonna burn you up, kid.” And C. Thomas Howell says, “It keeps me warm.” Yup. That is where the magic came from.
“Joining The Army”
One night I was sitting in my car talking to a girlfriend of mine and I was telling her I was thinking of joining the army. The conversation went pretty much exactly the way it does in the song. But I’m a lazy bastard and I hate getting up early in the morning and I ain’t much for long hikes so I just kept playing guitar in the band. Hopefully my grandad is okay with that.
“Tonight Ain't Gonna Be Good”
I wanted to write an old school rock 'n roll song. This one is still fun as hell to play. I figure everybody knows the feeling of walking into a bar and immediately knowing something is about to go wrong.
“Tears Don't Matter Much”
This song is a shout out to a few of my favorite musicians back home. Matt Bradley was in a Memphis band called Superstar before I moved there. My old band Redforty played some shows with them. We were all kids. Doug Deluca makes the gorgeous home recordings and that was all I listened to for a solid six months one time. Cory Branan ain’t actually that evil, at least no more so than the rest of us.
This is your standard out-on-the-road-forever-don’t-know-if-you’ll-ever-make-it-home-to-your-girl type song. Another one we never really played live but one we really need to relearn. The first song I ever wrote with a kapo. Probably why we never played it live. I can’t keep up with those things to save my fucking life.
“When You Decided To Leave”
Okay… On the album, “Mine Tonight” might be my favorite song. I’m not sure if I like this version of this song. But overall, “When You Decided To Leave” is one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written. I got lucky with this one. Not sure exactly where it came from but I wish I could write a dozen more like it.