Category Archives: Lyrics

Song Meanings

6. One Man's Anger
Illo by Jean Smith
Normal History Vol 168 by David Lester
 Illo by David Lester

 

Mecca Normal songs listed alphabetically with predominant themes as per the legend. Songs without code need to be reviewed due to their nature, which might be more psychological, poetic or complex to assign code to at first glance.

LEGEND:

Activism related to Status Quo = Act
Apathy = Apathy  Anger = A
Capitalism = C
Empathy = E
Environment = Env
Feminism = F
History = H
Injustice = I
Language = L
Political (including Personal) and Protest = P
Relationships (romantic, interpersonal, family) = R
Social Justice = SJ

Utopian = U

SONGS:

12 Murders – F, SJ, Pol
1922 – F, I, H, P, U
A Kind of a Girl – F, I, H, P
Accidently – L
Alibi – R
All About the Same Thing – R, H, C
Ancient Fire – F, Pol, H
Are You Hungry Joe? – SJ, I, H, Pol, A
Armchairs Fit – Act, A, Apathy, Pol, C
Arsenal – F, R, L, I, Pol
Art Was the Great Leveler – E
Attraction Is Ephemeral – R, Pol
Beaten Down – A, Pol, C
Beppo’s Room –
Between Livermore and Tracy –  B
lame the Glass Man – H, C
Blue Sky and Branches – A, R, H, Apathy
Blue TV – C, A
Breathing in the Dark – R
Broken Flowers – R, C
Cave In – A, Pol, C
Cherry Flowers – Pol, U
Clatter – C
Convince Yourself – E, C
Crimson Dragnet –
Current of Agreement – E
Cyclone – E  Days – Env
Don’t Heal Me Like a Dog Just to Break Me Like a Horse – R
Don’t Look In The Mirror –
Don’t Shoot – Act, Pol, C, SJ
Drilling – Env, C
Drive At – H, Env, C
Echo –
Elemental Steamer –
Engine Rain – C, Env
Every Wrong Word – L, F, I
Excalibur – R
Fallen Skier – R
Family Swan – R
Fan of Sparks – Env
Fight for a Little – P, A, H
Flash Light –
Follow Down –
Forlorn – F, R
From the Surface –
Frozen Rain –
Gravity Believes –
Greater Beauty – Env
He Didn’t Say – F, R
Held –
Her Ambition – F
His Own Madness – R
Horse Heaven Hills –
How Many Now? – H, SJ
Hurricane Watch – E
I Don’t Get It –
I Don’t Need To Hold Your Hand –
I Hear You – E
I Know a Little Bit – C
I Walk Alone – F, A, H, Pol
I Went Away For A While –
Ice Floes Aweigh – R, H
I’ll Call You – R, F, A
I’m a Bit Confused – C
I’m Not into Being the Woman You’re with While You’re Looking for the Woman You Want – F, R, I, A, L, Pol
In Canada – R, H  In January – Pol, Res
Is This You? – E
It’s Called Rock ‘n Roll – H
It’s Important – E
Joelle – F, SJ, Pol
Kingdom Without Weather – Pol, U
Maisy’s Death – E
Malachi – Pol, Emp, Act
Man Thinks Woman – F, I, L, A, H, Pol  Medieval Man –
More, More, More – C
Mrs. McGillvary –
Museum of Open Windows – Pol, A, SJ
My First Love Song – R
Naked and Ticklish – R
Narrow – R
No Mind’s Eye – R, L
Nobody’s Asking –
Normal – Apathy
Not With You – R, F  Not Yet – R
Now That You’re Here – R
Odele’s Bath – E
OK, Here We Go – E
On the Row of Dials –
Once – H, Env
One Man’s Anger – F, Pol
One More Safe – Emp, Pol, L, Act
One Woman – F, Act, H
Only Heat – E
Pamela Makes Waves – F, H  Paris in April – F, H
Peach-A-Vanilla – Apathy, Act
Phone’s Unplugged – I, R
Pocket Of Scribbly Gums –
Prize Arm – A, C, Act
Revolution#Pine – Pol, Act
Ribbon – Pol, Act
Richard – C
Rigid Man in an Ice Age – H, L
Rose –
Scare in the Hallway –
Sha La La La – Pol, Act
Smile Baby – F, SJ, Pol
Something to Be Said –   S
tep into My Sphere – F, R
Straying to Summer – SJ
Strong White Male – Pol, F, C, I, H
Texada Warns Me –
The Caribou & the Oil Pipeline – P, A, C, E
The Dark Side of Maria – R
The Message – Pol, SJ, Act
The Observer – H
The Orbit – R
The Revival of Cruelty – Pol, Act, C
The Way of Love – R
Then – A, H, Pol
This Is Different – E
This Is My Summer Vacation – C
This Machine – E, Apathy
Throw Silver – R
To Avoid Pain – Apathy
Tolerate Me – A
Trapped Against – Apathy
Trapped Inside Your Heart – R
Upside Down Flames – U
Vacant Night Sky – E, R
Waiting for Rudy – C, SJ, Pol
Walking the Walls – Apathy
War Between the Neighbours – C, R
Wasn’t Said – R
Water Cuts My Hands – Pol, C
What About the Boy? – SJ
What’s Your Name? – Apathy
When You Build a House Without Doors – Pol
When You Know – R
Who Shot Elvis? – H, Pol, C
Who Told You So? – H, A, Pol
Will He Change? – SJ, Pol
Women Were King – H, F, Pol, U
You Heard It All – Pol, H
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Interview Questions Requested

I received an email from a music magazine’s publisher asking me to contribute interview questions directed to him. He stated that nothing was off limits. I could ask him whatever I wanted. I composed the following email and sent it to him. He replied an hour later saying that his magazine had one rule. “NO religion or politics.”

So much for “nothing is off limits” questions. He knows me, my work, my band. I don’t plan on following this up with him. I guess I’m allowed to ask, but he isn’t going to answer.

Here, for the record, are my questions.

In November, the abstract I submitted to the EMP (now Museum of Pop Culture — MoPOP) Pop Conference was accepted. I’ve never applied before, but with the focus on music related to politics, I felt compelled to contribute.

I submitted a presentation titled “How I Became a Successful Agent for Radical Social Change” during which David (Lester) and I will draw from our 60-minute classroom presentation “How Art and Music Can Change the World”  which outlines how we came to inspire the co-founders of the 1990s social movement known as Riot Grrrl.

Actually, the dates are significant. I applied on November 8, before the polls closed, but when I received the acceptance email mid-December, both the title and the content of my talk seemed entirely different than when I submitted it! It felt like we’d slid backwards a fair few notches with little foreseeable hope of resuming the kind progressive social change that positively impacts the vast majority.

With these concerns in mind, here are my questions for you!

How do you think music that relates to politics will manifest under a Trump government? Will there be an upswing in political bands and events?

Do you think art – and music specifically – can impact the direction the US is taking?

As people re-evaluate their news sources (go Teen Vogue!), do you, as a journalist and publisher, see a new role or responsibility, or will your content mandate remain the same?

Which American bands with progressive lyrics come to mind in terms of having the potential to address, inspire and motivate large groups of people? Or is that even something a band and music fans should concern themselves with? Should lyricists continue to focus on ‘love’ as a major theme, obfuscating their feelings and song meanings through semantics and idiosyncratic references? What would you like to see happen on the lyric frontier?

I’ve noticed that Americans seem to love mystery when it comes to celebrity engagement. There is a love of speculation. What is that person really like? Do you think transparency in terms of the directness a band might want to take with its lyrics and interviews would negatively impact its likelihood of success? Is the tradition of mystique worth protecting in this coming era?

Would now be a good time for lyricists to use their words in ways that have previously seemed vaguely unnecessary or should we wait until it we’ve exhausted other forms of protest before we expect the arts to address and reflect the decline in the quality of life?

Which do you think will occupy people’s mind’s more in terms of time spent in spectator mode – escapist entertainment or activist culture? By that I mean, which will seem to be the more demanding of following?

I’m basically in the music industry, but way out on the D-I-Y fringes, creating art that intends to connect beauty, truth and understanding for people who are not willfully destroying tolerance. I would have chosen an entirely different direction if I’d been in it for money or fame. You come into contact with music and people I know little about. I recall years ago a local band pulling out of a benefit show to free political prisoners. Word got back through the community that their management thought it might be bad for their career. They did have a very nice career, as it turns out!

Do you think there a fear that writing political lyrics might be damaging to a band’s career?

Is there a lack of confidence there in terms of making a misstep or is it simply an industry taboo to state what you believe if you think there’s going to be backlash?

Do you think bands care more about being famous, “making it big” or affecting progressive social change with their music?

For myself, I find writing the lyrics for political songs quite difficult. I feel a huge responsibility to get it right even though my audience is minuscule. I want to say things in songs that will be interpreted, first of all, the way I mean them, and, second of all, to have them used as fuel in individual lives. That’s a tall order. I’ve been formulating a plan that would bring creative types together to work collaboratively on such material as a sort of sounding board and checks and balance element to the process. Working (writing) with an opportunity for other people’s input (not necessarily from those directly involved in any given project) may be a way forward for political content.

Have you considered anything new for [your magazine] to regularly feature music related to politics? Maybe a section where artists writing political lyrics could talk about what motivated them, what they mean explicitly, what they intended to achieve, what sort of response they’d had in terms of feedback, networking etc.

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The Caribou and the Oil Pipeline

 

Caribou spray

caribou 2

Two of the paintings in transition for the video by Jean Smith, 2006

While we were on tour in 2014, Ian MacKaye (formerly of Fugazi) came to our show in DC and somehow ended up telling me that this is his favorite song off The Observer album (Kill Rock Stars, 2006). It’s a weird one to pick, because basically it’s just me singing and playing the piano, which was recorded after the guitar and vocal tracks. There was something David liked about the piano and voice and he was all for taking the guitar out all together, making this the only Mecca Normal song without his guitar on it! He’s there in a way, because I’m playing piano to his guitar.

The Caribou and the Oil Pipeline

You’re in your car.
You’re running out of gas.
You pull in to get the gas.
3000 miles north of here
100,000 caribou are heading for the sea,
bears and ravens following.
This is where the US wants to put an oil pipeline.
It will disrupt the caribou migration.
You’ve see it on TV — there’s nothing you can do.
You can’t change the world, so you change the channel.
But in your mind, one fact stands alone:
this is for 180 days of oil
versus 20,000 years of caribou migration.
In a dream you see the caribou crossing an icy river, exhaling steam,
they dream themselves up and over steep and barren hills.
I didn’t think I could write a hit
about the caribou and the oil pipeline, but I had to try.
This is where the US wants to put an oil pipeline.
It will disrupt the caribou migration.
You’re in your car. You’re running out of gas. You pull in to get the gas.
What if? What if?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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