Alanis Morissette didn’t have a penny to her name while writing Jagged Little Pill, which she penned in a mouse-infested apartment.
Since its release in 1995 the classic rock and roll album, which features songs like Ironic and You Oughta Know, has sold 15 million units in the U.S. alone, and the work is lauded as one of the most culturally iconic records of the ’90s. A Jagged Little Pill 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition featuring remixed tracks and bonus material is being offered at select stores currently and Alanis is amazed by how seminal the LP has become over the years because she didn’t have very much money or clout when she was recording it.
“Having written my first songs at 9 years old, and produced them at 10 and 11, and having formed my own record company (for the fact that no one would sign a 10-year-old in 1985), I knew that this journey of art-making would be a long one, for how RIGHT it felt,” she explained in an essay published via Medium. “I quietly made a promise to myself. In my mouse-infested apartment, I promised myself that I WOULD NOT STOP until I was in a room with someone whose very interaction with me begged the question: ‘Who ARE you, Alanis?'”
Even now the star struggles to accept how loved her music is, because at one point her tracks were constantly rejected.
“I remember getting the news that I was being dropped from MCA Records in Canada,” she recalled, noting she and writing partner Glen Ballard were determined to move forward. “When the songs You Oughta Know and Perfect were written, we went and visited many record companies, none of which were impressed. Rejection for me, over the 10 years I had been in the music industry at that point, intimated I had not found my ‘home’ yet…so I persevered.”
According to Alanis record executives thought she was being too “intense” in her gritty, raw tunes, and they were worried her approach was too hardcore for a female singer. Although execs wrote her off before she finally landed a deal with Maverick Records, Alanis always knew Jagged Little Pill captured the voice of a generation.
“There was a cultural wave swelling…a readiness, perhaps, for people to hear about the underbelly, the true experience of being a young, sensitive, and brave person in a patriarchal world,” she said.
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