Category Archives: Videos

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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VIDEO: Water in a Bucket

“Water in a Bucket” by Mecca Normal from “Water Cuts My Hands” (K Records, 1991). Jean Smith vocals. David Lester guitar. Directed by Jean Smith

Images: Stock footage from Prelinger Archives. Flint faucet. Mecca Normal performing in Holland 1994 — using the visual portion of footage at Fast Forward Festival, Nijmegen. Direction and editing Remko Dekker. Cameras Bart de Keulenaar, Wilmer Hendriks, Remko Dekker.

Water in a Bucket

La la la my my my la la la my my my

Water in a bucket

down the street

You carry your water in a bucket down the street

La la la my my my la la la my my my

You carry your water too

in a North American city

in a North American street

Where the dream started

it started without you

I wanna get out of this dream

nightmare

I wanna climb out of this dream

this dream
this nightmare
nightmare

nightmare

It’s no dream

nightmare
nightmare
I wanna get out of this dream

nightmare

The dream started without you

It’s no dream

La la la my my my la la la my my my

 

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PopCon

SEATTLE Museum of Popular Culture (formerly EMP) Saturday, April 22, 2017, 5:15 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

16 minute film by Jean Smith for PopCon 2017, introduced by Evelyn McDonnell (Associate Professor of Journalism and New Media and Interim Director of Journalism at Loyola Marymount University in LA).

PopCon 2017 theme is music and politics.

The annual EMP Pop Conference, first held in 2002, mixes together ambitious music discourse of every kind in an attempt to bring academics, critics, musicians, and dedicated fans into a collective conversation.

Jean 1

Jean 2

Stills from the film. Jean Smith performing “The Dogs” outside Pages Books on Queen Street in Toronto circa 1993. Jean Smith being interviewed by Much Music inside Pages, talking about feminism and the increase of women in bands.

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VIDEO: Cherry Flowers

I made a video for the Mecca Normal song Cherry Flowers (Dovetail, K Records, 1992) fairly spontaneously. It’s a pretty song about springtime and I did a cherry blossom painting recently, so it occurred to me to connect them. But, as I was putting the elements together, I recalled more about the song’s meaning, which I don’t think I’ve ever been asked about or expressed.

That got me to thinking about all our songs and the various meanings tucked up into them, so I listed all the songs, created a song meaning legend and assigned codes to most of the songs with a note saying that some of the songs need to be reviewed due to their nature, which might be psychological, poetic or complex.

As for Cherry Flowers (1992), it is about the geography of borders, clandestine crossings in vehicles (row boats heading for the united caves of america) laden with cherry flowers. Feel free to interpret what the cherry flowers are (maybe art and music?), but, in the song, “seven men in white shirts watch the needle on the gauge, rise and fall, swing and dive, on the border” using specialized equipment to assess the validity of those attempting to cross.

Painting by Jean Smith “Spring” (11 x 14″ acrylic on canvas panel) $100 USD

Song Meanings

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“We Oughta Know” by Andrea Warner

An entry in an appendix of Canadian women in music, in the book “We Oughta Know: How Four Women Ruled the ’90s and Changed Canadian Music” by Andrea Warner (Eternal Cavalier Press, 2015)

Mecca Normal, 1984 – present
Key 90s songs:
“Vacant Night Sky ” from Sitting on Snaps (Matador Records, 1995)
“Waiting for Rudy” from Flood Plain (K Records, 1993)

“Underground art-punk rock duo Jean Smith (vocalist) and David Lester (guitarist) have been crafting weird, tightly coiled but loosely structured songs about gender, feminism, politics, and social justice isues since 1984. Anybody who knows Beat Happening, Bikini Kill, and Sleater-Kinney should know Mecca Normal, almost nobody does. I’m ashamed to admit that up until last year, I barely knew them either. They’re a hometown band and I’m a feminist who writes about music and still I never came across Mecca Normal until someone alerted me to their existence after I wrote an essay about how much I missed the political fire of music from the ’90s. Mecca Normal were riot grrrl and DIY before those movements existed, and they were tireless in their commitment to their art, releasing seven records in the ’90s alone. In fact, Mecca Normal were basically doing the 90s in the 80s. Consider the still-relevant subject matter of their mid-’80s tunes like “Smile Baby,” which calls out street harassment (yes, three decades ago), “More, More, More” which addresses the privilege of white men and the American Dream, and the simple, chilling, and inspiring “I Walk Alone” which affirms a woman’s right to safety in a public space. It’s important music that still matters today.” – Andrea Warner

 

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Feminism was not a phase or a failed experiment

Feminism was not a phase or a failed experiment. We are here!”

On International Women’s Day, I edited, uploaded and shared a snippet of a very new song on both my page and the Mecca Normal page on FaceBook.

Snippet of “I Am Here” from the show in Portland, October, 2017, opening for The Julie Ruin.

I’m always interested in seeing the reach and reaction to what I post, so, here below are the stats for these two posts. These are high viewing numbers for us.

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Jean Smith FaceBook page = 1879 views

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Mecca Normal FaceBook page = 2343 views

View video on YouTube

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Beaten Down LIVE

It might just be that the guitar is too loud because of the proximity of the amp to the camera, but, over the years, I think more than a few soundguys have made a point of turning down my vocals because they don’t like how I sound and what I’m saying.

Dave and I recently spoke about the idea of bolstering live vocal recordings after the fact. Just as an idea. Might be something I will try with this video.

 

 

 

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Songs from Portland

Mecca Normal (Jean Smith and David Lester) opening for The Julie Ruin at the Wonder Ballroom in Portland on October 9, 2016. Video by Pat Maley.


“Invisible Girl” is a new one. We’ve only played it live a few times. Basically, the idea was to move away from long songs and lyrics on the page, to free form a bit. I wanted a few songs that allow me to be more in the moment.

Invisible girl refers to how women and girls are socialized and conditioned to want to look attractive and sexy. Being bombarded with concepts about beauty and desirability can lead to feeling that we aren’t seen or valued for who we really are. The nature of street harassment and unwanted attention from strangers can result in women wishing they were invisible


“I Am Here” is another new one that moves away from lyrics on the page, allowing me to perform it more in the moment.
The song features two key lines.
“As long as I’m still here I will be opposed to injustice.”
“Feminism was not a phase or a failed experiment.”


A still relevant song from our first album (1986), “I Walk Alone”

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Opening for The Julie Ruin

Just as we were about to start the show in Portland, David said he didn’t see Pat Maley in the audience. I spotted him front and center and handed him Dave’s Sony (consumer) video camera as one does when in such situations. No advance warning or anything civilized like asking with a “please” attached to it. Doh. I haven’t seen Pat for a couple of years. He smiled and took the camera. What a guy! Next time I looked at him he was shooting with the Sony on one eye and an iPhone on the other, like some kind of weird binoculars. I had to look away. It was kind of comical, but mostly just slightly disturbing.

It’s a bit clunky for the transition from Sony to iPhone at 4:09 , but it looks and sounds great after that!

 New and unrecorded songs are marked *
* 1. Anguish/Misogyny 2:45
* 2. Invisible Girl 8:24
3. Attraction is Ephemeral 12:07
4. Strong White Male 20:29
* 5. I Am Here 23:47
6. Throw Silver 27:23
7. I Walk Alone 30:35
8. Beaten Down 34:17
* 9. The Ferry to the Launch 38:19

VIDEO: four individual songs

Kenny Mellman and Kathleen Hanna talking about Mecca Normal between songs in Portland at the Wonder Ballroom, October 9, 2016. Thanks to Pat Maley for capturing this! After Kenny says Mecca Normal is his favorite band, Kathleen tells the audience to but my paintings! She also does a brief imitation of me working at Home Depot! I was standing at the back of the venue feeling like this was part of a dream!

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The Jean Smith painting Kenny Mellman bought. “No Hat #46 (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas). $100 paintings currently available.

Mecca Normal (Jean Smith and David Lester) opening for The Julie Ruin at the Showbox in Seattle , October, 2016. Video by Connie Ostrowski

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Vancouver

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Mecca Normal and Kathleen Hanna at soundcheck in Vancouver

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Vancouver. Photo by Erik Iversen Photography

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David Lester of Mecca Normal pre-show in Seattle at the Showbox. Photo by Jean Smith

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Portland. Photo by Mary Sharp

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Portland. Photo by Mary Sharp

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Portland. Photo by Mary Sharp

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Portland

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The crowd (approx. 700 – 800?) from the balcony in Portland, waiting for The Julie Ruin to take the stage at the Wonder Ballroom.

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I was spontaneously gifted with a necklace by the mother of one of the two girls on the right after I signed their copy of Mecca Normal’s 7″ 1990-something EP Paris in April (K Records). Later, when I thought about the lyrics, I was happy they ended up with that one. The song is about a young woman who doesn’t want to be conventional; she wants to see travel, to see Europe in springtime.

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Photos with fans!! Always a thrill! It was fun to get Pat Maley to sign the back of Calico Kills the Cat (K Records, 1989) since he recorded it! I think it’s the one we recorded in a (renovated) chicken coop in Olympia.

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Portland Motel 6

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