Pour yourself four fingers of whiskey. Throw in about a half-dozen rusted thumbtacks. Gargle. You too can have a voice like Ben Nichols, the lead singer of Lucero. Based out of Memphis, Tennessee, Lucero is a gritty, alternative country band that merges their punk roots with Southern rock riffs. One of the hardest working bands in the business, they’ve toured almost constantly since 2001, playing as many as 200 shows a year. In this time they’ve also found the time to record six albums as well as release Dreaming in America, a live CD/DVD combo.
The first time I saw Lucero play live they set up their own stage at the Granada in Lawrence, Kansas and then launched into their set without any nonsense. No turning down the house lights and hanging out backstage to keep the crowd waiting. Starting with the exquisite song “That Much Further West,” Lucero ripped through about a half-dozen tracks and then went off their set list (if they even had one.) The crowd shouted song titles. Ben Nichols, the band’s front man, would smile at every request and then launch right into it. After a solid 45 minutes of request taking he declared that they were going to play a song from each of their albums and launched into a straight set of six songs. More requests followed. The band took a break while Ben stayed on stage and played an acoustic set. Finally, the band came back and played a half dozen more songs. After their last song, Ben announced in a painfully hoarse voice, “Don’t bother clapping or nothing. The last four songs were our encore. Goodnight.” And with that the band started packing up their gear. For over two hours they had maintained a constant stage presence and treated us to well over 30 songs. How rare is it to hear a band and not walk away thinking, “I wish they had played that song.”
“Tears don’t matter much” is one of the best songs on Lucero’s highest concept album, 2003’s That Much Further West. The song is an ode to spirited musicians from back home who dream of someday making it big. Each verse describes a musician (Matt, Doug, and Cory) and identifies each of them as “Just another southern boy who dreams of nights in NYC." The choruses repeat the phrase, “My tears don’t matter much.” During a bridge, Ben interjects himself, “When the boys sings their songs and the kids sing along I’m just another southern boy who dreams of nights in NYC.” The song comes to a resounding conclusion with Ben cathartically shouting that his tears don’t matter much.
Thanks to youtube you can enjoy this song and Ben’s unique vocal stylings. Here is a very fast paced version of the song. Here is another version.