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Getting Older & Looking Back: Alanis Morissette

Posted by T. Adeyemi on June 1, 2009

It is just basic logic that with everyday of the year, comes the celebration of new life and thus a continuous birthday. It’s somewhat ironic that people like to think of their birthday as “their own” special day. Although, in reality there are thousands and possibly millions of others that somewhere around the world are also cherrishing that day. And together all those people share that day as the day they were able to take their first breathe of Earth’s air.

It was America’s 16th preseident that may have said it best when he stated,

“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

As a minor historian of several facets and a great collector of random and most times useless information (unless you’re playing a trivia game) I happened to know that June 1st is the birthday of one Morgan Freeman, and upon further review it also happens to be the birthday of singer/songwriter/producer Alanis Morissette. Now, realizing with everyday comes a birthday I must realize that there is no possible way I could highlight every artist on their “special day.” However, I do feel capable of recognizing certain artists that I feel a strong connection to for one reason or another in a series I’m calling “Getting Older & Looking Back.”

After watching the MTV Movie Awards last night it got me to thinking about my early memories of MTV as the channel, much before it became the lifestyle consultant that it is today. In watching Eminem Get Mooned I immediately thought back to the days of Fartman (Howard Stern) and his antics of popping up on stage wearing barely nothing in the rear similar to that of Bruno last evening. But even more apparent to me were the after school campouts I  spent watching what I thought were random music videos of people that I had never heard of. Funny thing is, some of those people I never heard of stuck to the musical side of my brain even to this day.

The stark contrast between the soulful sounds of Jeffery Osbourne, Sade, & Phyllis Hyman that I would hear my mother sing play on those “clean house” Saturday mornings, and the headbanging noise of Marilyn Manson and likes of alternative rock pioneers Nirvana was far too noticeable. Perhaps, it is that collision of two worlds that made such an impact on my ever evolving musical compass. Somewhere in the midst of my mind’s unconscious remix of New Kids on the Block’s “Step by Step” with MC Hammer’s “Too Legit to Quit” there was a space left open for at that time Canada’s budding superstar Alanis Morissette.

Morissette has sold over 40 million albums world-wide. With 30 million of that being attributed to her breakthrough album Jagged Little Pill, that set and still holds the record for the highest selling debut album worldwide in music history. Although Jagged Little Pill was Morissette’s American debut, her original musical debut came when she released her self-titled album Alanis only in Canada in 1991. Alanis went platinum in Canada and after a follow-up which was somewhat successful Morissette decided to pack her bags and head south.

After a short period of career static Morissette signed with Marverick Records under Warner Music Group and quickly released the first single off of Jagged Little Pill which was “You Oughta Know.” The single caught on fast with California airwaves and propelled the album to release six singles on its way to breaking numerous records and earning Morissette four grammy’s for the album’s efforts. Of the six singles off of Jagged Little Pill, one has stood the test of time and been widely heralded as Morissette’s biggest hit, “Ironic.”

I can still remember sitting in my grandmother’s living room (with the couches with the plastic on them) watching the music video for “Ironic” over & over daily as it ruled the MTV rotation. I remember wondering, “What the hell is this white lady talking about in these verses?” And then for no apparent reason rocking out with an uncontrollable shoulder jerk and head nod to match when the chorus came on. Back then when lyrics weren’t so readily available and the internet was still in its infancy the only lyrics I had memorized to that song were , “Its like Raaaa-Aaaaaaa-Innnn!” And I was damn proud of just knowing that part.

With today being June 1st, I hope Alanis is somewhere celebrating her success. And on her birthday I look back on the impact she had on my childhood and is still having on me as an adult. Strangely enough, Jagged Little Pill was intially released just in hopes that Morissette would sell enough records to make another album. Instead, she joined Celine Dion’s Falling Into You & Michael Jackson’s Thriller as one of the only three alubms to stay within the Billboard’s top ten for a year. Isn’t that ironic?

“Be Real, Be True, Keep it 100.”      T.Adeyemi

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One Response to “Getting Older & Looking Back: Alanis Morissette”

  1. Taboo said

    I thought I was the only one who loved that song! Both Jagged Little Pill and her follow up album Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie secured Alanis’ place as one of my favorite alternative singers of all time. Thank you for acknowledging Ms. Morissette on her 35th birthday!

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