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.