Normal History Vol. 557: 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.

For myself, I’m not great at following along with what others are doing. It’s like I have a mental block when it comes to singing a cover the way it’s supposed to go or doing a choreographed set of dance moves. Hey, nine times outta 10 I get the terms “verse” and “chorus” mixed up. In my case, all this adds up to being highly creative out of necessity, really.

As for “Nobody’s Asking” (and many other songs and paintings), I didn’t have an agenda to articulate unless it was something like my intention to inspire (women to make music by making it more fluid and less rigid than mainstream fare). It was likely written while Dave and I were seeing what we could come up with after talking about things other than music because that’s been a winning formula for years (women’s rights, poverty, capitalism, etc.). The words “nobody,” “do,” “asking” and “can” pop out from the swirl of overlapping parts of connective language that singers are almost forced to use. Sentence structure can get in the way. 

Because we are a two-person group, I can sometimes be creative in the recording process rather than having to learn and repeat my parts based on how the song goes. Having said that, the vast majority of our songs are written on the first time through (I record everything) and then worked on and learned from that original, first recording. By the time we get in the studio, we performed yet-to-be-recorded songs at least a dozen times live. 

In the early years, we seemed to get a fair few reviews that called my lyrics stream of consciousness as if that was a bad thing. It isn’t. It’s mostly just an incorrect thing. Or a way to put down a woman. Basically. Nobody wants a stream of consciousness woman—even today.

Writing about this song makes it seem like it’s one people want to know about or is somehow important. It isn’t. Either.

“Nobody’s Asking” from Flood Plain (K, 1993) (download):