Wednesday, February 1, 2012

the alanis experiment: vol 2. what a jagged little pill

On friday, days into the experiment, listening to Alanis Morissette's Jagged little pill album all day everyday was starting to grow tiresome. [Tangent: I did cheat a little bit, more out of sloth than sneakiness. In the car, I didn't listen to Alanis...mostly due to the fact that I didn't feel like plugging in my ipod. This would seem unreasonable to most folk, but I listen to music for 6 hours a day at work. By the end of a given day, the album had already spun roughly 7 times through its rotation. That's a LOT of harmonica solos and Canadian inflection.] However, I was determined to hike up my proverbial Doc Martins and soldier on.

As I said in the vol 1 post, I had no concept of what these songs were about when I was awkwardly singing along in my early teens. The angst I felt in those days were minimal to the adult angst that I can encounter on any given day. [Ex: Being embarassed about wearing the same burgundy stretch velvet babydoll tank dress to both the winter formal and the 8th grade dance is really small potatoes comparatively. If #firstworldproblems was a thing back then, I would be neck deep in them.]  Now I have bills, a job, a 401k, medical debt...not to mention friends, family and a boyfriend who I am pretty damned crazy about about. So with this mindset, I listened to the songs on the album...and these are the mental notes I made about some of the tracks [Tangent: You can click on the song titles to relive the magic.]:

Track 1: all I really want
I love a little breakdown "do you think your bills, your ex, your deadlines, when you think youre gonna die...or did you long for the next distraction?" <----this is me on a daily basis. Thirteen year old Kimmie was too busy worrying that she she had JC Penny overalls instead of Gap like all the cool kids. Although I thought I had it all figured out, I had no concept of what Alanis was talking about. Also, this song features my favorite Alanisism. "Intellectual Intercourse" ....I love this phrase. I think its genius. I try to partake in that on a daily basis. I am such a mind slut, apparently. 

Track 2: you oughta know
Ahh...the angry girl done wrong that I totally didn't ever relate to at age 13. No boy wanted to touch my bracey face much less love me than leave me. Not to get all pretentious and intellectual on a top 40 hit, but I am always impressed with nonchalant usage of big words in verse. She sprinkles in some serious vocab with "did you forget about me, Mr. duplicity" SLANT RHYME, FOR THE WIN! CIRCLE GETS THE SQUARE! [Tangent: Today, probably someone like Ke$ha would say Mr. Asshole...not as effective. Although, I love a good dirty word, smart chicks win every time] OK, now for the shallow- we must get down to brass tacks- this song is about Joey Gladstone. 

all that pent up anger for this fella?

I totally see the attraction...
[Tangent: In years since my initial obsession - it has been revealed that the mysterious sexbeast was Dave Coullier...which possibly goes down as the biggest let down in all of music history....and perpetuates my theory that all Canadian celebrities just hang out together. Like it wouldn't be weird to see Barenaked Ladies doing shots with Michael Buble and Mike Meyers.] How is she possibly getting so enraged about the guy that escorted Stephanie to the Honeybee sleepover, did shitty Bullwinkle impressions and had a woodchuck puppet that he sometimes talked through. Even though I was in high school when this bomb was dropped, it still baffles me. [Tangent: While we are sort of on the subject, can I vent for a moment about an "issue" that really gets under my skin and will thus reveal what a lame ass I am. Dave Coulier's character on Full House is simply Joey- NOT UNCLE JOEY! Yes, Jesse is their Uncle, because he is the brother-in-law to Danny Tanner, whereas Joey is just Danny's fraternity brother (probably in the most terrible fraternity ever).  They never call him  "Uncle" on the show, so why do so many people refer to him as such in retrospect. OK- superfluous geek out over.] To think, she went on to date Ryan Reynolds for several years. I wonder if she ever pined away about Ranger Joe while they were together. I find that somewhat doubtful.

Track 3: perfect 
Maybe I am slightly biased, but I feel this song was the precursor to Xtina Aguilera's Beautiful...and was done better.  [Tangent: I really like the fact that for a short stint while I was in college, and she was in her assless chaps phase, Christina Aguilera went by Xtina, so I like to keep it going.] Instead of being cheesy and "Kitty hang in there" poster about it, it is basically showing that even Alanis battled with low self esteem...who hasn't?
Sometimes is never quite enough
If you're flawless, then you'll win my love
Don't forget to win first place
Don't forget to keep that smile on your face

Track 4: hand in my pocket
This track is what originally urged me to beg my older sister to buy this CD for Christmas '95. I loved it. Now it really doesn't speak to me as much as I hoped it would, but I do love a harmonica intermission. Even so, while being kept awake by Sudafed and breakroom coffee monday morning, I gave a silent fist pump when I heard the lyric, "I'm tired, but I'm workin'. YEAH!" <----I'm a dork

Track 5: right through you
GOD! Alanis kicked the Spice Girls ass in 90's girl power, and she didn't have to resort to giving herself a cutesy persona or wearing thigh high Union Jack print boots.
Hello Mr. Man
You didn't think I'd come back
You didn't think I'd show up with my army
And this ammunition on my back
Now that I'm Miss Thing
Now that I'm a zillionaire
You scan the credits for your name
And wonder why it's not there
This song all features possibly one of my favorite lines in music ever: "You took a long hard look at my ass and then played golf for a while." I am a pacifistic lass, but this song kinda makes me want to throat punch- It's that good.

Track 6: forgiven
Pretty sure, as a dumb youth, I skipped right over this song...but over the years, I've kinda grown to love it. [Tangent: To be fair, I love most songs that feature a "being raised Catholic" storyline ("Only the Good Die Young" et al.)] It's spot on perfection.

Track 7: you learn
This song to me today, is just OK...and not as AMAZING as I used to make it out to be. Maybe its because I've heard it maybe 60 times this week, but everytime it played, I found myself reaching for skip. I GET IT! YOU'VE LEARNED FROM YOUR MISTAKES! [Tangent: Bonus points for containing the titular line, "Swallow it down (what a jagged little pill) It feels so good (swimming in your stomach)"] Also, full disclosure, when rewatching the video, I remembered how rad I used to think her white girl dreadlocks were in the they just look kinda gross.

That was a definite misstep, Ms. Morrissette...but you're forgiven (pun not intended.) It was the 90's after all.

track 8: head over feet
This song has always been good and will always be good. Even the video, which is just a Sinead O'Conner style close-up is amazing. I thought my 7th grade crush was totally worthy of its eloquence, but he wasn't. No one but my ginger has thus lived up to praise like this:
You are the bearer of unconditional things
You held your breath and the door for me
Thanks for your patience

You're the best listener that I've ever met

You're my best friend
Best friend with benefits
What took me so long

I've never felt this healthy before

I've never wanted something rational
I am aware now
It hit me like a brick when I was listening to it (on about day 2 of the experiment), and I immediately emailed my fella the lyrics. I am sure if he didn't already come to expect that kind of behavior, he would have broken up with me immediately for being completely lame. Don't worry, its not gonna be "our song" or anything because we already have one because I'm not QUITE that ridiculous.

Track 9: mary jane
Fun fact: this song is completely depressing after listening to it a few times.
It's a long way down 
On this roller coaster
The last chance streetcar
Went off the track
And you're on it 
YIKES!Another fun fact: this is one of 3 songs with "Mary Jane" in the title. I am not a pot head (not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Track 10: ironic
Ahhh...just rewatching this video takes me back to watching it for the first time. Despite her somewhat maniacal gestures, how adorable was Alanis (and her various identical personalities) in their coordinating candy colored wintertime accessories, like a schitzo a capella group!?  
Despite this iconic video, poor lady is still being bombasted for her skewed interpretation of a literary device. She's Canadian...go easy on her. I realize that most of these things are just crappy luck [Tangent: ...And it was shitty timing that this album came out when I was in 7th grade, and 7th grade is when my English teacher first taught us about Irony. I'm sure the class of 2001 still assumes that "a black fly in your chardonnay" is ironic.] , but have we ever considered maybe she was just leaving out parts of the vignettes. Like maybe "a no smoking sign on your cigarette break" is ironic if the person in question worked at Marlboro. Then it is somewhat ironic, no? Or riddle me this- what if you were impaled with a spoon and seeking a knife with which to extricate it from your person? Wouldn't "10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife" be slightly ironic? Who are we to assume? 

Track 11: not the doctor 
Since rebuying this CD on a whim at the unclaimed baggage warehouse a couple years back, this track has emerged as a new favorite, mostly for these two lines "I don't wanna be the band-aid if the wound is not mine." and "I don't wanna be adored for what I merely represent to you." SERIOUSLY, Alanis?!!? You are spot on, lady. As an adult that seems to primarily attract people with so many issues, they should be considered lifetime subscribers, I found these lyrics to be very honest. 

However, one line has confused me for the last 15 years, and just figuring it out made this whole experiment worth while. "Mind the empty bottle with the holes along the bottom." <---what the hell does that mean? Around day 5 of the experiment, I just jerked my headphones out and wrote on a post-it "She means that she's feeling drained!" followed by a litany of exclamation points. Here's proof:

Track 12: wake up
I am still kinda meh on this song and feels operation Jagged Little Pill definitely starts with a bang and ends with a wimper. I really wish I had something groundbreaking to say about it, but it just reinforces the man hating that is going down on this CD. Maybe you readers will help me out with that one. 

wheww...that was exhausting. Because all good (or tragic) things come in threes, I'll post tomorrow my conclusions or how/if my life is forever changed by this experiment....besides needing a definite hiatus from hearing this album again. To be continued...

1 comment:

  1. Well, now all of these songs are stuck in my head even though I haven't heard some of them in about 13 years (jeez). Except for "Forgiven" and "Wake Up" -- track six was the last one on side A of the CASSETTE that I owned, so I always stopped at that point and then flipped it over and rewound to the beginning of side B.



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