Little Town Blues (2015)

by Mark Lucas



English born, Sydney based singer-songwriter, Mark Lucas has played many roles in the past 30 odd years. Arriving in Australia in 1981 with a trunk full of belongings and an old Martin guitar, he has been variously a banana farm hand, insurance broker, Native American arts trader, worked in movies and bars, and even found time to establish one of Sydney’s favourite small venues, Petersham Bowling Club (the pbc); but always at heart he’s followed the muse wherever it leads, from late ‘70’s South London roots rock, to quirky ‘80’s pop/rock, and returning full circle to the narrative heart of the troubadour.

New album “Little Town Blues” (Laughing Outlaw Records LOR174CD), co-produced with Brendan Gallagher (Karma County, Jimmy Little), sees Mark step out from in front of long-time backing band the Dead Setters to work a distinctly personal seam, drawing from both the confessional and the observational.

Whilst an Americana, country/roots feel prevails, Mark’s songwriting comes from a strong spirit of place, from a soul born wandering the heartworn highways, and in this, his sixtieth year, he’s clearly right at home.

“…an exemplary example of Australian songwriting, full of beautifully restrained playing and honest lyrics.” – Chris Familton, The Music

“All in all, another fine addition to the Lucas catalogue.” - Kim Cheshire, Country Update Magazine

“…after all these years writing and recording songs, he’s still got plenty to draw on, and you just can’t fake soul like this.” – Whisperinandhollerin (Ireland)


released June 1, 2015

words & music all rights reserved Mark Lucas

Recorded at Bondi Pavilion & Edith Street April to December 2014
Additional recording by Glenn Skarratt
Produced by Brendan Gallagher & Mark Lucas
Mixed by Brendan Gallagher at GPHQ
Mastered by Rick O'Neil at Turtlerock

Mark Lucas - vocal, guitar
Neville Anderson - drums Jy-Perry Banks - tuba
Zane Banks - 5 string banjo Dale Barlow - flute
Doug Boyd - piano & accordion James Church - dobro
Brielle Davis - backing vocals Brendan Gallagher - bass, guitars, keyboards, percussion
Mark Oats - fiddle, backing vocals



all rights reserved


Mark Lucas Sydney, Australia

Australian roots music – it’s a sense of place. In singer-songwriter Mark Lucas' word picture world you’ll encounter ghosts of the past & yearning spirits of the present, making themselves known in a variety of familiar locales, together with a motley cast of misfits & dreamers who could fit in just about anywhere there’s people & stories to tell. ... more

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Track Name: Little Town Blues
They were standing in the rain
He was leaning on the car
He said I’m talkin’ to you baby
But I don’t know who you are
I used to hang the moon
You used to be the stars

Left the car in the driveway
Threw away the keys
Grabbed his coat & started walking
Toward the dark end of the street
Used to feel like king of the hill
Now he just feels incomplete

Little town blues
Stones in your shoes
They’ll take all you can lose
These little town blues

They’ve got 20 years of happy snaps
In albums in the hall
They got 3 kids & a mortgage
That’s got him by the balls
She said honey we ain’t all out of love
We’re just a little overdrawn

He said all this useless beauty
All your sacred cows
All your magazine covers
And designer baby showers
All that stuff that we think we need
It means nothing to me now
Track Name: Federal Highway Blues
She’s got this place she goes to
When the going gets too rough
And it keeps her & it holds her in its sway
Barrelling down the fast lane
With no logic in train
Just the speed of her getaway

She’s travellin’ tonight
With just her dreams & her driving shoes
‘cos she’s lost the will to fight
Those Federal Highway blues

National Highway 23,
Remembrance Driveway if you please
From the Deadly Hume & the Sutton Interchange
It’s just another road from ruin,
Something she needn’t think about doing
Drivin’ out there hard across the plain

She’s travellin’ tonight

You got kangaroos in mobs & skis,
Hang gliders hangin’ on the breeze
Lake George still looks dry as a bone
Wind turbines sing their song alone
Harvest wind & witness stone
And time is just the turning of the leaves

She’s travellin’ tonight

All roads lead to Rome they say,
Well I don’t think this one goes that way
It always seems to lead her back to the end
Maybe something on the wind
More Lady Luck than Mickey Finn
Even a losing streak must play out in the end

She’s travellin’ tonight
Track Name: Dark Side of the Road
He said I landed here a time or two
Somewhere on the journey ‘tween me & you
Didn’t mean nothing, just had time to kill
In the distance between, where you crave the thrill
Sometimes I feel so live I can’t gain control
Drifting to the dark side of the road

It was summer then & the nights were still
The heat hung like a blanket & the wind had no will
In the sentinel dawn I reach for sleep
But I find no solace & I just feel weak
Stranded in the static on the radio
Drifting to the dark side of the road

Now I hate for darkness to descend
Why must I feel such discontent

There’s a dead dog in the alley where I pass to make the call
When I tell you that I love you & I won’t hurt you no more
And half of me believes it & half of me is gone
Halfway up the street to where the neon crawl
Roving where the shipless sailors go
Drifting to the dark side of the road

That’s me in the alley if you wanna know the truth
Was I really no good or just a mixed up youth
Maybe it’s true what they say- you become what you believe
Well I believe in nothing hey I guess that’s just me
There’s solace in the shifting of the load
Drifting to the dark side of the road
Track Name: His Own Titanic
A rainy afternoon & they shared a torn umbrella into town
He was a small-time trader in big futures & she was living in the now
She took him for a schemer as he hooked her on a line about botanics
Never dreaming he was embarking on the maiden voyage of his very own Titanic

Clouds were scudding by & gulls wheeled overhead crying havoc
He’s standing there amazed at somehow sometimes life just happens
It’s in the way she moves & there within in the oceans of her eyes
Brighter than the moon & darker than these stormy skies

Brighter than the moon
Darker than these stormy skies
To hell with all the rules
Somehow sometimes life just happens

Now he’s standing on the deck re-arranging all the chairs & keeping time
With a band still playing waltzes to the waves & Auld Lang Syne
She left him on the promenade with a dairy ice & a rising sense of panic
Left him contemplating consequence staring out across the rails of his own Titanic

Brighter than the moon

He wishes that he’d hung on longer to that moment when the sun burst through the trees
A face may launch a thousand ships but a careless word can sink a single dream
So it’s a memory of a kiss more tender than it was volcanic
And he slips beneath the waves standing on the bridge of his own Titanic
He slowly slips beneath the waves standing on the bridge of his own Titanic
Track Name: Please Tell the DJ
The letterbox is still empty and the telephone don’t ring
But it’s the same sky above me and the same birds still sing
They don’t know how I’m lonely they don’t know that you’re gon
But someone please tell the DJ ‘cos he’s still playing our song

Please tell the DJ that it’s a small world
The songs that he’s playing are all about one girl
Be it Waylon or Willie, Hank, Lefty or Merle
Please tell the DJ that it’s a small world

I‘ve tried painting your picture but it’s like you’re just out of sight
And I wrote you a letter but the words won’t come right
Used to be I could reach out and the river would run
Now I’m dry as the dust in the red centre sun

Please tell the DJ that it’s a small world

Now Sunday morning still tastes of Saturday night
And I can’t hide from memories like I can hide from the light
And the bars down the street and the church bells all ring
With the same sad story and it’s our song that they sing

Please tell the DJ that it’s a small world
Track Name: Stranger
You have no sense of occasion
You walk the streets with your heart emblazoned
On the sleeve of your coat over scars of the razor
In the tracks of the tears on your tattoo of mother

You live at night but you dress for the day sir
Moving in circles that would once have amazed you
Using the fruit of the vine like so much liquid eraser
You drink to forget but you know you will find her

In the still of the night are you a stranger?
In the glare of the lights there lies the danger
When you’re looking for answers and they label you traitor
Is this where you live or are you a stranger?

You were processed through schools where they practiced good diction
Where they beat you with their truth, stranger than fiction
Then you tested your faith on the strength of conviction
You did your time in the house of correction

It is said that in time each soul finds fulfillment
But one might think that our lives are run in weekly installments
And while your destiny cries for something more than this moment
You know that just to live is to fly

In the still of the night are you a stranger?

You believe in love, just what else is there
And you need to believe to keep it all together
When you think about how the world really turns
How the deals are done & the evidence burned

Still she’s waiting for you as you’re closing the windows
Barring the doors against old ghosts and their shadows
And it’s sometimes the scent and sometimes the hollow
But always the song brings her home

In the still of the night are you a stranger?
Track Name: Home
I can hear the sound of thunder
I can smell the coming rain
I can sense the changing seasons
When will I see my home again

I was born into this prison
I was born with no last name
No place to run no-one to follow
When will I see my home again

I know why the morning star does shine
It shines to lead me through the night
And I know where that new moon lies
It lies beneath the sands of time

All these years I’ve been alone here
My crime has not been named
Nor my sentence been read to me
When will I see my home again

When I was young I had ambition
But years of stone stole it away
I’m just a stranger in a strange land
When will I see my home again

I know why the morning star does shine…

It’s more than walls that make this prison
Time, razor-wire and pain
It takes a nation of indifference
When will I see my home again
Track Name: Small Town
Seems this small town’s getting smaller every day
Folks just keep on passing on their way
And though life goes on you’d really have to say
This small town’s getting smaller every day

There’s some who feel the urge to spread their wings
Move on up the road to seek their dreams
Call it sea change call it tree change it’s all the same
And this small town’s getting smaller every day

This small town’s getting smaller every day…

It used to be our neighbours were our friends
With us through life’s straights & through life’s bends
But the neighbourhood’s just real estate these days
And this small town’s getting smaller every day

This small town’s getting smaller every day…

Now it’s just the old folks who recall
Life before fast food and shopping malls
And a time when folks’d smile and say good day
On streets where you could watch the children play

This small town’s getting smaller every day…
Track Name: Rider
Someday you’re gonna climb that hill and see what’s on the other side
Someday you may just stand on top reach out & touch the sky
Then somedays you’re gonna come unstuck & on that slippery slope you’ll slide
You’ll always know the rider from the ride

You know you could be anything you want the world is your oyster my dear
You could be the train driver or you could be the engineer
But that all adds up to nothing if you don’t take the time
You’ll always know the rider from the ride

No matter how you set your cap
It’s a rugged road we’re on
But it’s the journey not the destination
That you must fix your heart upon

Seems like there’s a world of trouble all around sometimes it’s like the walls are tumblin’ down
The wheels are falling off the wagon & wolves are on the outskirts of town
But you gotta have faith in beauty & stand for what you believe is right
You’ll always know the rider from the ride

May the sun be always at your back may the path before you rise
The rivers that you cross be swift but the shallows recognised
May you make love that lasts & gives you strength to grow up to be wise
May you always know the rider from the ride
Track Name: Borderline
I’m not from here I’m just passing through
But there’s not a whole lot of difference between me & you
A few thousand miles similar hopes & fears
All the good times & a river or two of tears

Where did you say you’re from
Somewhere uptown or under the gun
Well we’re all on the borderline now
All on the borderline now

We’re all the same under the skin
Yeah it’s a cliché I know but it’s where we begin
Surely you had a mama & you had a dad
But you know these days it’s not even as simple as that

Where did you say you’re from
Stolen generation or prodigal son
We’re all on the borderline now….

Now the world comes in through our little walls
With CNN live coverage we’re in boots’n’all
Is it the nature of the beast do we really need to see
The shallow graves of truth on prime time TV

Where did you say you’re from
Ethno-political life on the run
Hey we’re all on the borderline now…

Now here at the edge of darkness do we stand to greet the dawn
Or walk back into the night too afraid to carry on
While little men play colossus trying to straddle time
And curse the very earth claiming God is on their side

Where did you say you’re from
It’s a great big world but in the end we’re all one
And we’re all on the borderline now
Track Name: Metaphor Song
He’s got a long list of reasons
She’s got no time to waste
They say they life is just a season
Never hurry ever haste
She got the sun at her shoulder
He got the moon at his door
Sooner or later the world spins around
They’ll find their own metaphor

Cat on the roof, lazy in the sun
Dog in the yard barking mad
There’s no love lost between them it’s true
But they still got each other for all that
Cat’s got nine lives to live up to
Dog’s got an old bone to gnaw
Sooner or later the world spins around
They’ll find their own metaphor

We’ve all got our place in the grand scheme of things
Still we search for answers to it all
Some remain grounded some spread their wings
Some are content just to crawl
Between the givers the takers the movers the shakers
And those with no choices at all
Sooner or later the world spins around
We all find our own metaphor