A Season of Songs, Day 81: When You Decided To Leave

A Season of Songs is a type of Fun-A-Day project that I plan to do throughout this spring.  I’ll hit shuffle on the ol’ iPod and see what comes up.  I’ll then write a bit about that song, the band, the record, whatever.  Enjoy!

Today’s song is “When You Decided to Leave” by Lucero from their 2003 album “That Much Further West”.

When you decided to leave
I was so young and so bold
And then you decided to leave
I got tired and old

I would have first heard Lucero back around 2001-2002.  I had become friends with a bunch of folks from Little Rock, mostly through Theo and Mary who ran Tree of Knowledge zine distribution.  Through those relationships I got to know folks playing in bands like Soophie Nun Squad, Rainy Day Regatta, The Body and more.  In 2000, a member of the Little Rock music scene, Shannon Yarbrough, died and File 13 Records put together a compilation in his memory.   The compilation was called “Listen To What I’m Made Of”.  I picked up this 2xCD for the Soophie and Rainy Day Regatta tracks but it was the Lucero track, “All The Same To Me”, that would really grab my attention.

Lucero features Ben Nichols on guitar and vocals.  Ben had previously been in another Little Rock area band called Red Forty who played an infectious version of youthful pop/punk.  Songs about girls with Ben’s gravelly vocals.  The Red Forty discography CD got heavy rotation in those days, so learning that Ben was in this new band, especially after hearing this compilation track, made me eager to hear more songs.

They had released a couple records at that time but I think they were out-of-print or at least pretty hard to find.  In 2002 they would release the album “Tennessee” which I picked up and really fell in love with.  To this day, that album is a favorite.  Some great songs on there – my highlights include “Nights Like These”, “Chain Link Fence”, and “Here At The Starlite” (if only because I had been at the Starlite Diner in Little Rock once, though my chance to eat there was broken up by a hurricane warning).  Still mostly just writing songs about girls, but the punker elements were mostly gone and the sound was now countrified indie/rock.

In 2003 I would do a pretty poorly attending show for Lucero at Roboto.  I feel like only 6 months later or so, people were all over this band.

Later that year Lucero would release “That Much Further West”.  I was really excited to hear this album and while it is generally a good record, it doesn’t quite hold the allure of “Tennessee”.  It’s not that there are any duds, though “Joining the Army” comes close and as I listen through the record right now I find it hard to make any specific complaints.  There are some great songs on here – the title track, “Sad and Lonely” and “Tears Don’t Matter Much” are some favorites.

“When You Decided To Leave” is a decent song.  Guess what?  Another song about a girl leaving him.  Within the context of the album its ok, but on its own it doesn’t really go anywhere and gets a little boring.  It closes out the record proper before giving you a demo version of the title track (the studio version of the title song opens the album).

Apparently these guys have put out another half-dozen albums since “That Much Further West”.  I haven’t heard any of them or seen these guys live since that poorly attended 2003 show.  Occasionally they come through town and play Smalls with a couple bands I’ve never heard of or bands that I have zero interest in seeing, thus I haven’t taken the opportunity to check them out again.  So I have no idea whether its worth your time to check out anything beyond “Tennesssee”, “That Much Further West”, or “The Attic Tapes” (their 1st self-released album, which includes a fine cover of Jawbreaker’s “Kiss The Bottle”), but I’d imagine their all at least half-decent.  Let me know if you check ’em out.

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