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 30-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.
In this week’s column, I continue to compare songs on Calico Kills The Cat with songs on our new album, Empathy For The Evil, from start to finish. See notes from Sept. 6, 2014.
7. “I’m A Bit Confused” (Calico Kills The Cat, 1989) Jobs have an unpleasant capacity to plunk the tedium of conventional life right under my nose. If it isn’t the general public sniffing around for bargains on consumer goods, it’s the co-workers who have not dared to dream beyond dental plans and annual vacations. I was in my 20s when I wrote this song. I had already opted out of the work force to spend 15 years making music, travelling, touring, writing and creating art. After that, at 40, I began a succession of dumb part-time jobs through which I have learned how to protect my creativity while vehemently disallowing banality to destroy my happiness.
7. “Naked And Ticklish” (Empathy For The Evil, 2014) The lyrics are directly out of my novel Obliterating History – a guitar-making mystery, domination & submission in a small town garage, in which the female protagonist tells a story about her online dating adventures. While the song is fictional, aspects of it are from my experience online dating, where, like working at various jobs, I felt exposed to people I never would have met otherwise. For the most part I encountered selfish liars seeking self-gratification. In the song, and in the novel, the protagonist attempts relationships with men she has little in common with, but eventually her inability to trust them is, for her, impossible to ignore.
In my early years as a lyricist, I was more apt to express anger, whereas, in recent years, I’ve found my way back into storytelling with humorous overtones that resonate with audiences. As an anarchist currently working in retail—and a former participant in online dating—I am truly grateful that a good chunk of my life has been spent with likeminded people who continue to inspire me with their ability to sidestep what is apparently regarded as normal behavior.
“I’m A Bit Confused” from Calico Kills The Cat (K, 1989; Matador, 1991; Smarten Up!, 2003) (download):