Weekend Listening: Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette
Listen while you read (volume may be loud):
Album: Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette
Released: June 13, 1995 by Maverick Records
Recommended if you like: alternative rock goddesses with pop sensibilities, angsty songs, remembering the 90s, songs that both mark a place in time and haven’t aged at all
Notable Tracks: “You Oughta Know”, “Ironic”, “Hand In My Pocket”, “You Learn”
Jagged Little Pill turned 20 this year and a pricey 4-disc set just came out to commemorate it. (Also, groove on that 90s CD format.) As a woman growing up in the 90s, Jagged Little Pill was my soundtrack for years and, frankly, I have never outgrown this anthem of teen angst. (She was 19 when she wrote this album so I’m not being unkind about her being a teen. Also, NINETEEN. And this was her THIRD ALBUM. Work it, girl.)
Confessions of an Aspie girl: I got a Discman for some Christmas or another around the time this album came out (maybe I got the album and the Discman the same Christmas, even). We lived in an apartment complex that was a big square with a parking lot that went in a circle around it; I would go out in almost all weather, snow or light rain or shine, and walk endless laps around our complex with an album on repeat for hours–to the point that someone eventually told me that my neighbors thought I was a little creepy for my obsessive habits. (I give no fucks about this. Also, I was probably singing out loud and lost in my own world so maybe was doing some weird stuff.) Jagged Little Pill featured in heavy rotation, especially at night. I can’t even say how many times I’ve listened to this album; it has to be in the hundreds. Maybe the thousands. I know every chord intimately, every lyric to every song.
I didn’t know much about the album outside of my own connection with it. Clearly, she was angry. I was angry, too, so I felt that through my whole self. I have learned while researching that it was Alanis’s first alt-rock album, and that her previous work was a mix of Janet Jackson/Paula Abdul-esque dancepop that made my mouth drop open with surprise (but not displeasure):
I also learned how hard Alanis worked to make it as a musician. She sent in her first demo tape at the age of nine with original songs and her voice caught the attention of people at MCA Records Canada; however, being nine and all, they decided to wait awhile before pursuing her as talent. She put out her first album when she was fourteen, struggled with eating disorders due to studio pressure not to be fat, and spent many of her high school nights drinking whiskey with “the older crowd” and writing songs while trying to balance school. It helps bring Jagged Little Pill into focus, knowing that she had reasons for feeling like a misfit, feeling out of place, feeling angry at people (and maybe especially men). Men do not always act appropriately with young girls. I know this from direct experience. (I mean. Dave Coulier was 36 when Alanis was 21, and claims to be the ex referenced in “You Oughta Know” so he dated her before that. Side-eye at Dave.)
I only ever listened obsessively to this one album by Alanis. I’m glad she seems happier and more grounded and has less edge in her life, but I didn’t connect to happy Alanis. Maybe I would now that I’m older and less full of edges, myself. Still, when the first chords of “All I Really Want” ring out, they’re part of me as much as that strange little girl whose neighbors probably knew she was “special” before she did, as the apartment complex I still visit in my dreams and the hundreds of nights I cradled my first-gen Discman to me to protect it from drizzle or snow under the streetlamps. Those were nights I felt wildly free during a time in my life when I was anything but and Jagged Little Pill was part of that.
I want to hear about your Alanis feels. I know you have them. Leave them in the comments.
Listen to Jagged Little Pill: