Every week, 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 39-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.
Not sure what was on my mind when I wrote these lyrics circa 1993, but there’s something that comes through now that almost seems obvious. I was intentionally obscuring some of the words to demonstrate how the voice is an independent component of a song. The “row of dials” refers to the process of recording and decisions made after the fact about volume levels. There are plenty of times when I push to increase the volume of the vocals so that words can be heard and understood, but this song was an attempt to cleave sound from language without resorting to verbal nonsense. The narrative refers to how the sound of the voice pushes the music along. I’d progressed through that idea by the time I got to the point where “the giver took to taking,” etc.
“On The Row Of Dials” from Flood Plain (K, 1993) (download):