An angry young Canadian woman unleashes her rage onto the world.
Alanis Morissette was just 21 years of age when she released Jagged Little Pill. It went on to sell tens of millions of copies, and win the Grammy award for best album. In Australia, it was #1 for ten weeks, and is still one of the top 20 best-selling albums of all time.
A COUPLE OF MONTHS LATER:
A seven year-old girl sits in front of her mother’s stereo system. It’s a relic of the early 90s, with turntable, play/record cassette decks, and most importantly, a CD player. The tower sits on a pale blue table, sandwiched between two speakers. Under the table is Mum’s CD collection, neatly alphabetised in a large black case.
On a rug on the floor, she pores over a jewel cover, carefully removing the booklet to examine every word. Through the speakers, the angry Canadian sings about “cross-eyed bears” and teaches the young girl a new word, “ironic”. Unfortunately the definition is a little bit muddled.
A lot of my childhood memories are coupled with music. Car rides between my parents’ houses. Family holidays soundtracked by radio hits. But Jagged Little Pill is a rare example of the music containing the memory. Those songs were everywhere throughout 1995 and 1996 (my primary school yearbook shows it listed as every year 6 girl’s favourite album – why we had such a detailed primary school yearbook is a matter for another time), but my strongest memories of the time involve sitting in front of that stereo and listening to the CD by choice.
It came back into rotation 7 or 8 years later, when I was in high school (and the lyrics were a little more age-appropriate). Having spent months of my supermarket wages on an iPod, I was able to once again co-opt my mother’s music collection. And having the files digitally meant I didn’t need to give them back! I was an angry, angsty teenager, and listening to 90s music was part of my rebellion against the mainstream. I sought comfort in Alanis, Shirley, Gwen, Justine and Dolores. I still do.
Last Wednesday night, I saw Alanis perform at the ICC theatre in Sydney. Others may consider travelling for live music to be a novelty, but it’s become second nature to me. The venue was massive – I hadn’t been there before – and security was intense. Muesli bars and empty drink bottles were no-nos. I had to fight to keep my camera on me (even though they said pocket cameras were okay), but I ended up sitting so far away from the state that I had no use for it. The show had sold out within minutes. My seat was in the second last section of the venue, six floors up from the stage! Not my ideal gig-going scenario, but that didn’t matter.
The six year-old in me sang her little heart out from “You Learn” through to “Thank U”, and I’m forever grateful that she grew up listening to angry kickarse women like Alanis Morissette.