Video: In January (long, 2003)

The long version of “In January” from the Janis Zeppelin CD (Smarten Up! Records, 2003) with paintings by Jean Smith.

Carl Wilson’s Globe and Mail review of the shorter version on The Family Swan (2002)

A new protest song is blowin’ in the wind

February 20, 2003

Today’s protest soundtracks require impromptu cacophony and knife fights with broken mirrors. Here’s 10 to march to, but not in formation.

7. Mecca Normal, In January ( The Family Swan, Kill Rock Stars): The veteran Vancouver anarchist duo was prescient last year to name this tense, abstract piece for the time, months later, when the world’s nerve endings would really start to shred. The track captures singer Jean Smith’s and guitarist David Lester’s roiling intensity the way it sounds in small live rooms across the continent — this time with Smith’s stinging tone pushing from the inside against lips that seem almost to be sewn shut.

 

Video: early recording (cover)

Sonny Boy Williamson (circa 1984)

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Video: Held

Jean Smith vocals. David Lester guitar at Chicago’s Lounge Ax in the mid-1990s. “Held” is from “Dovetail” (K Records, 1992).

Held

You’d be surprised alright
where you could be held
there
pinned in an updraft
back against the clouds

Holding sirens’ rage
on a tangle pain
you didn’t know was there
you didn’t know it was there

Gridwork set up for your wing on rise
to place
where you will be held
back against the light

Hammer on, hammer on
towards never getting back
never getting back
hammer on
hammer on

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Video: This Machine (cover)

West Coast Chalice: Karl Blau, Brian Tottenham, Braydn Krueger, Doug Cassidy, and Jesse.

The original version of “This Machine” is from “Dovetail” (K Records, 1992).

This Machine

Making it anything
so it isn’t nothing now
I am touching at the future
with a tin edge hollow stamp

I wove the spin of endurance
knots hanging in black twine
jarred up on a plank shelf
oiled to a (dull) shine

I am wanting (watching)
I am wishing
for wind
to knock this stillness out

Making it anything
so it isn’t nothing now

Screaming on track
pounding up loud
dreaming down pipe on a sigh
sifting on freight tight
this machine rides

Making it anything
so it isn’t nothing

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Music That I Like – Everett True

Song of the day (the old and the new) – 11. Little Mix and Mecca Normal

“I love the passion, the intent of Mecca Normal. The searing literacy. The relentless beauty. The admittance that most all relationships are always power struggles, especially when you least expect it. Crudely, three of my favourite artists remind me of Mecca Normal (not the other way round). That’s a recommendation in itself. The dialogue present in every Mecca Normal song I have heard is worth experiencing again and again. It does not infantilise the listener, much as the listener may want to be infantalised. It does not cause the listener to cast aside the class struggle that is central to day-to-day life, whether individuals are aware of it or not.” – Evertt True

 

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VIDEO: Orange Sunset

“Orange Sunset” from “Water Cuts My Hands” (K Records, 1991). Jean Smith vocals. David Lester guitar. Video and paintings by Jean Smith.

Orange Sunset

This sunset spreads orange
across the sky
a lid pressing down

In Grand Central Station
pickpockets look for tourist eyes

I am more obvious –
white female
ambassador of lust

He said,
“Come with me
I know
you like to suck and fuck.”

Orange sunset
a lid pressing down

 

 

 

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VIDEO: The Dogs

“The Dogs” by Mecca Normal from “Water Cuts My Hands” (K Records, 1991). Jean Smith vocals. David Lester guitar. Video and paintings by Jean Smith.

The Dogs

My thoughts are chased my dogs
trapped in Instamatic snapshots
their eyes are red in the night
I can see into their mouths
past the teeth
past the teeth

I’m at home in the strangest places
but the sea is just pounding water
trying to get revenge
trying to get revenge

The dogs are barking
running towards me
through a roll of twenty-four exposures

The dogs have questions for me
I don’t know what they are

On the train I heard the sea on the tracks
roaring in a straight line
away from me
away from me

Stop it with the gun
Stop it with the gun
was a philosophy of hers
more than a request
but right now she’d like the kid to quit it
he has a sound-equipped machine gun
pointed at her head
pointed at her head

The dogs have been measured out to me

Some of the snapshots have one big dog
some of the snapshots have two dogs
some of the snapshots have three dogs
I don’t know how many dogs there are
more than three
more the ones my flashcube illuminates

The dogs have questions for me
The dogs have questions for me

Dogs don’t mince words

 

 

 

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VIDEO: Lois Wrote About the Farm

“Lois Wrote About the Farm” by Mecca Normal from “Water Cuts My Hands”(K Records, 1991). Jean Smith vocals. David Lester guitar. Painting by Jean Smith.

“Lois Wrote About the Farm”

America has named its chickens.
Two of them are called The Twins.

America strings its words together neatly;
it is hiding something big.

The check-out girl says she can’t quit smoking.
She’d have nothing else to do.

America, instigator of The Dream.
In my mind my body aches.

 

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VIDEO: Dead Bird’s Feet

“Dead Bird’s Feet” by Mecca Normal from “Water Cuts My Hands” (K Records, 1991). Jean Smith vocals. David Lester guitar. Directed by Jean Smith.

Dead Bird’s Feet

Dead bird’s feet
mounted on the wall
they don’t have a right side up
they don’t have an up side down
they were something else
now they’re on the wall
on the wall

Wanting conflict to be neat
we name the opposition
forever it will be the things they do
that are wrong
that are wrong

Men hate women
making it easy for women to hate men
women hate men
making it easy for men to hate women
men to hate women

We are handing out stiff starched pajamas
to sex offenders
in concrete halls

We are wincing and creating opinion
slamming steel doors
and turning in the breeze
in the breeze

of right and wrong
of right and wrong
outside where air is pure
air is pure
air is pure

Right and wrong
outside
outside where air is pure
air is pure

 

 

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VIDEO: Not Standing Still

“Not Standing Still” by Mecca Normal from “Water Cuts My Hands” (K Records, 1991). Jean Smith vocals. David Lester guitar.

 

Not Standing Still

You might say,
“Why do I fight?
Change won’t happen.”

Well, not overnight.

Why do you think
we’re standing still?

We’re not standing still.

Change will happen.
Oh yes, it will.

 You might say,
“We’re standing still.”

 We’re not standing still.

 

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