Things I’m Supposed To Hate But Kinda Like: Alanis Morrisette

Yeah, I know – she was the “woman who rawks”-du-jour about this time twenty years ago.  She was the Annette Funicello of the Grunge generation – or as a rock critic dubbed her, the “Queen of alt-rock angst”.

And I hate angst.

Well…other peoples’ angst.  Mostly.  Not so much my own.

But I digress.

And her musical heyday was, to be blunt, not my own.  I’d just gotten out of a couple of years of working in bars, and was pretty much tired of music everyone else liked, and had three kids to take care of instead of listening to music.  So when my stepson brought home a copy of Jagged Little Pill, I pretty much disliked it even before I heard it.

But seeing that she’s turning 40 (!) on Sunday, I figured it’d be a good time to unpack this particular love-hate relationship.

She tends toward the shrill – but it’s a really intense kind of shrill, one that wears me out.    There are times it seems like she does the same half-dozen songs forty different ways.

But every once in a while she writes a song I wish I could have written myself:

And in her day – I discovered right after her day – she had one of the best touring bands in the business, which took what could – should – have been a live train wreck suitable only for women’s studies classes and feminist coffee shops and turned it into some damned fine, solid, in-tune-and-on-beat, tight performances:

That’s Taylor Hawkins on drums – currently with the Foo Fighters, and likely the best drummer to come out of the alt-rock genre. The bass player? Chris Chaney, one of the most underrated bass players around (and wasting away in the current incarnation of Jane’s Addiction).  And a couple of guitar players, including a guy with a Fender Jaguar, which was very au courant in Seattle in the nineties, and not a bad instrument if you couldn’t handle a Jazzmaster.

Anyway – I know it’s wrong.  But them’s the facts.

3 thoughts on “Things I’m Supposed To Hate But Kinda Like: Alanis Morrisette

  1. My daughter (yes, Mitch, the one you saw in that little apartment in St. Paul so long ago) decided that the first big concert she wanted to see was Alanis Morrisette/Garbage at the age of maybe 12. This was when most of her friends were into the boy bands so it was with some measure of pride that we took her. Our musical tastes haven’t always converged, but she certainly has continued down an independent path.

  2. Alanis had a lot of catchy tunes on that one CD. I recall taking a roadtrip through Wisconsin…usually listened to blues or what we called Alt or New rock at the time, but no stations played thost formats outside the bigger cities. So I tuned into top 40ish stations out of Eau Claire and La Crosse for most of the drive. Alanis and Hootie & the Blowfish. Basically those 2 artists were played non-stop. Wish I had counted how many times those two were played in the course of the day on those radio stations.

  3. Nothing to be ashamed of. Hers was one of the very few really decent albums during that pretty dry (by my standards) period. Then she dropped off the map and I wondered what was she doing next. There were a number of fairly credible women on the radio then who, after impressive (financially or through talent) starts, didn’t stick around. Meredith Brooks, Tracy Chapman, and Joan Osborne are three that come to mind.

    A noticeable while after her disappearance, I saw Ms. Morissette on some late night talk show. She was giggly, had some recognizable new hair style, and laughed at everything the host said. I was pretty disappointed.

    I had hoped for something a bit deeper, or at least something a bit less like the seventh (?) woman cast member on “Friends.” I think she was about to release some new music, announced a pregnancy, or an upcoming wedding, etc.

    That’s where I left her. Liking Jagged Little Pill took some taste when it was first released and should never be denied. I suspect that our next popular view of her will be on some reality show. Too bad …

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