Maverick Records were a pretty new label when she came along, and the release of “Jagged Little Pill“ seemed to help them establish a presence in the market as much as they helped her establishing a career. Why Madonna’s Maverick?
“Well, we were talking originally to about four or five different companies in the midst of writing the record, and then the record was essentially done, and that’s when I met Maverick. Madonna was very supportive. She understands — perhaps because she is an artist — how important it is for us to have our spaceand not have people breathing down our necks. She’s great. “
After trying to co-write with hundreds of people and being disappointed each time, Alanis finally met Glen Ballard (known for his work with Michael Jackson, Paula Abdul and Wilson Phillips) through MCA publishing, and immediately two enjoyed each other’s writing style. Her third release “Jagged Little Pill“ showed a very different Alanis than in the previous two albums. Instead of using midi machines, sequencers and other electronic gagnets, Alanis Morissette, as she is called now, has human band players. Also, the lyrics in this album are much more intelligent, meaningful, and bitter.
“I write songs basically based on inspiration and stream of consciousness. A lot of the songs on the record were written in 20 minutes–just really quick, very uncensored, and there’s no premeditation on any of them. The music and the lyrics were written at the same time, just in the room. I just give myself up to it. Sometimes it comes flowing very quickly, other times it takes a little time, but it comes."
When Alanis burst onto the airwaves in mid-1995 with her explosive debut single, “You Oughta Know”, few could have predicted that this Canadian singer would open the floodgates on a new era in alternative rock.
“All of the songs are personal and they’re written about different people and that’s all I’m going to say. I just feel that my being honest about it doesn’t give me the right to drag other people through the mud with me. “
Alanis will never declare the name of that person. So.. don’t ask anymore!
Curiosities.. When “Jagged Little Pill“ hit the 1 million sales mark, Madonna gave Alanis platinum nail polish to celebrate. In March 1999, Madonna gave her a $49,000 Tiffany’s bracelet for her success. March 8th 1996 was named Alanis Morissette Day in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, by the then mayor.
On the strength of the break-out single “You Oughta Know”, the album reached platinum status and the Top 10. Follow-up singles “Hand in My Pocket”, “All I Really Want” and “Ironic” kept “Jagged Little Pill“ on the album charts the next two years. In the USA alone, by August 1998, “Jagged Little Pill“ was certified as achieving 16 million sales, and world sales had topped 28 million.
No longer could radio programmers turn away aspiring women rockers with the age-old excuse, “We’ve already added a female artist to our playlist”.
“You Oughta Know” became an anthem for dumped females worldwide, and established Alanis as the spearhead of a female musical movement. The album eventually went on to sell eighteen million copies worldwide, and she garnered numerous awards, including four Grammys, and two MTV Video Awards.
Joining Alanis as her special guests from August 12-29, 1996, were Radiohead (Can you believe it?)
She also journeyed to Europe for festival shows as well as arena gigs where she was the support act for Neil Young.
“The earlier shows were truly all about me/us getting my/our bearings. Trying to find the balance between entertainment and communication (I eventually enjoyed the latter much more). What was happening at that time was overwhelming in that the curveballs were coming at such a rate that I barely had enough time to catch my breath before the next situation had to be grappled with. There was a while where I was briefly swept away by what I now call “the bullshit.” My fear was manifested in a persona onstage that was over the top and urgent. In time the urgency turned into a more relaxed and unapologetic expression. A less fishbowl consciousness. I realized both on and offstage that if someone wanted to listen to me they would meet me halfway…I didn’t have to whack them between the eyes to get my point across. Those who wanted to listen would, those that didn’t, didn’t have to. This realization resulted in a big turning point for me. If for a brief moment I was lured away from the songs themselves, this revelation guided me back. “
Alanis believed that the catalyst for her change in attitude and character was her move from Canada to Los Angeles, where she learned to live independently in a big city. Alanis said she is now mature enough to tap into an honesty that she wasn’t ready to deal with when she was younger. Most of the songs on “Jagged Little Pill“ are in one way or another autobiographical. And people are loving her work, as her album is now a big hit across the United States.
“When I was younger, I would primarily play music for the sake of performance… As I got older, I saw it as an amazing opportunity to have this therapeutic experience, and have it be very autobiographical. The performance element of it is still important, but now I see it more as an opportunity to connect with people, relate to people and inspire — or repulse — people.“
Rolling Stone Magazine attribuited to her the title of “angry white female”. Though, Alanis doesn’t consider herself “angry”:
“There have been a lot of misconceptions about “You Oughta Know”. I think its overt anger is leading a lot of people to believe that I’m a very angry person. What they’re confusing is that this song was written for the sake of revenge, as opposed to the sake of release, which is why it was written. It was just emotions I had repressed in my subconscious for a long time, as I think everybody does. I just gave myself the opportunity to let it out. That’s why it was so overt.“
“Feminism is a right of passage on the way to humanism. Humanism is where I aspire to have the pendulum eventually stop. Having been a chauvinist in a very patriarchal society myself, I think that feminism was an incredible way for me to reclaim my wholeness as a woman. [I’m] both a feminist and a humanist — depending on what environment I’m in.“