Normal History Vol. 555: 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 35-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

“Ribbon” was always one of my favorite songs to perform live because of its lack of specific focus in terms of imparting a concept. Ambiguity was enticing terrain after writing what were sometimes called anthems for various causes.

The ominous repetition of several potentially unrelated phrases presented audiences with the opportunity to make what they wanted of it more than many of our previous songs. The never-mentioned ribbon was a loose and flowing connection between ideas.

Streaming out behind us, filaments on fire.

You’re marked.

We’re the news from nowhere.

We played “Ribbon” many times in the ’90s, but as newer songs came into our setlist, it was dropped due to time constraints. Strangely, this nub of sociopolitical songwriting philosophy is back in play in my current painting practise. Viewers are free to make what they want of the individual portraits as I post them almost every day on Facebook, but in a somewhat unexpected interactive component to the project, every now and then I am privy to evidence of how other people compile and compose individual paintings.

“Ribbon” from Flood Plain (K, 1993) (download):