Normal History Vol. 759: 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.

I’ve always taken lyric writing very seriously. Many of the songs on the first few albums were distillations of long conversations in our rehearsal space. We’d talk until it became obvious that we should switch to guitar and singing. I recorded almost everything we did.

Plenty of ideas came about in the usual way, in a first-person barrage of dissatisfaction, but there were also a fair few cinematic narratives that, as it turns out, carved out something like how returning to a very specific memory feels years after the fact. The smoke in the song, its scent, brings back the time of writing it.

Of course, I had no intention of building that capacity into the song at that time. I was merely reaching for more poetic ways to get across ideas, because that was, in part, the essence of the task at hand.

Not to pile up an exact number of photo-realistic fragments so that they could be easily returned to simply because they’d been piled in the most literal way possible.

Building a song with words is almost nothing like the Berlin Wall, which has now been down for longer than it was up.

“Ancient Fire” from Calico Kills The Cat (K, 1988) (download):