Normal History Vol. 492: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 34-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

There’s something about these two songs together. “Her Ambition” and a song by Spider And The Webs called “Leaving Lawrence (To His Waves)” about feminist Sheila Rowbotham, who, as Tobi Vail sings, had a surfer boyfriend “she left behind to start the women’s liberation movement.”

I first heard it when Tobi dedicated it to me at a show in Portland. It’s kind of like where “Her Ambition” was going, but I neglected to give my character the exit door. Perhaps she found it on her own. Let’s say she did.

Her Ambition
She used to work days at the counter
he sunken cheeks
paint flecks on his clothes
rubbed the dust from his hair
and went down to meet her
together they drove home

Her ambition faded
Her ambition slipped away

After that she used to work part time in an office
he built things that other people wanted
he couldn’t keep them for himself
he paid exactly half their bills

She began to move like him
and picked up all his habits

He developed a fondness for rare wood from mainland China
any extra time he had he spent sharpening his tools

Her ambition faded
Her ambition slipped away

She can’t stop the dullness
something slowly rotting in her box of souvenirs
she finds a token of her ambition
and rolls it in her hands
she rolls it in her hands
and like her plans like her desire—it disappears
it disappears

Her ambition faded
Her ambition slipped away

“Her Ambition” from The Eagle And The Poodle (Matador, 1996) (download):