Normal History Vol. 745: The Art Of David Lester

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 40-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

If, as a musician nears the end portion of life and the work they’ve created isn’t especially significant in a broader context, how it’s archived won’t likely be debated. By year, by album. Following official methods. Perhaps all creators of art consider the possibility that at a point long after they’re gone, their work may be regarded as important for some yet to be known reason. While facing a sense of abject failure, this is a kind of living on fumes of future success. I don’t need to explain why this is appealing.

Underlying the jostling for position that goes on ceaselessly within the industry (ticket and album sales, media attention) there are other forms of value and reverence that are archived in many different ways. Ways that have nothing to do with halls of fame, magazine covers or charts.

This map of an imaginary solar system made up of band names positions Mecca Normal right below Bikini Kill. We’re a much small planet, but quite close. Let us ponder why we’re there at all. We could have just as well have been left off, forgotten or deemed inconsequential, but we weren’t, because Kathleen maintains an ongoing verbal campaign that gives us some credit in her evolution.

Within the scope of cultural activism, it feels important to make these references, to illuminate how things unfurled so that those wondering can see these ways and possibly replicate beginnings that might become important. Ideally, they too will outline their unique stories and by so doing make pathways that are better than trying to hack one’s way through brambles as if we’re always at some uncomfortable beginning point that is so daunting it makes you wonder if it’s worth it or even possible to be a successful advocate for progressive social change.

“Who Told You So?” from Mecca Normal (Smarten Up!, 1986) (download):