Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Jagged Little Pill

When my computer(s) died, I lost a lot of music along with them, and have been re-installing music piecemeal. Yesterday I finally re-burned a copy of Alanis Morissette's first album, Jagged Little Pill.

And I was reminded of what I love it so much.

Oh, sure, she got the "you must be a femi-nazi bitch who hates men" label after this album, which secrely pleased me. I love You Outta Know. I think it's the star of the album, though every single other song ain't bad either.

I was surprised to read this piece (scroll down) over at The Hathor Legacy that, while affirming the fanasticness of the album, expresses frustration about the rap Alanis got for this album, and particularly, for You Outta Know. She argues that there are a lot of really powerful songs besides You Outta Know on the album (which is true), and that Alanis got tagged as an evil, angry woman unfairly, and you should look at the album as a whole, and blah blah basically "Hey, she's not *just* an angry woman! She's a talented artist!"

It's really shitty that we feel we have to defend angry women by pointing out that they're really great artists (I'm trying to think of angry men whose artistic talent gets overlooked because they're too "angry" and I'm not coming up with anyone. Feel free to correct me). But I don't want to defend angry women artists by saying they "aren't as angry as you think they are."

I WANT her to be that angry. That's what I fucking love about You Outta Know and the album as a whole. All of sudden there's all this honest emotion: not cutesy little, "Oh, I love you and all the shiny flowers even though you cheated on me" crap, but real, "I cared about you and you fucked me over you asshole" anger. And "I thought this relationship was something it really wasn't" anger. And "this isn't quite the life I was looking for" anger.

Anger is good.

Lack of anger and frustration actually really turned me off the second album. Not that I *hated* her second album, but it doesn't connect with me the way Jagged Little Pill does. I mean, maybe once you make a lot of money and run off to India for a few years, you aren't angry anymore. But, you know, Pink has a lot of money, and I think she had some great ass-kicking songs in I'm Not Dead.

I don't want to feel I have to defend an artist cause she's angry. I want to go, "She's really angry! Isn't that cool!?"

Because it is cool. What nobody seems to get is that the flipside of anger is often sadness; anger is just a more powerful way to express oneself than sadness (and more socially acceptable among men. Men are encouraged to get angry instead of being sad. Women are just supposed to be sad). If you want to know what the song's really about, try listening to You Outta Know again - particulary the slow, sad, alternate take she did at the Grammies.

That'll stop your heart.

But most days, I prefer the pissed-off version. Most days, it feels truer. And it's telling the truth that's going to connect with people; or piss them off.

8 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Susan said...

Whoo! I remember when that song first came out, I was in high school, and I was -thrilled- that she was so pissed off. I have this really clear memory of driving up to (god help me) the Ren Faire in New York State with my friends Jean and Kate, the three of us all singing along to "You Oughta Know" and then having this long conversation about how stupid it was that there weren't more songs about being angry when someone fucks with you.

Kameron Hurley said...

I totally remember the first time I heard it. I was watching MTV music videos really late at night at my parents' place, and dancing around to the songs, and then this pissed off woman starts screaming about what a bastard this guy was who cheated on her and I was like, "Holy crap! That's awesome!"

It was just so startling to hear it.

And I spent quite awhile waiting for the album to come out.

ScottM said...

That song really caught me too; it was strident and (for my listening tastes) unique. I was angry about very different things at that time, but I could relate.

catswym said...

yeah, i love that album. i remember, as a young teen, when it first came out how perfectly it expressed so many of the things i was feeling about the world around me: the anger and the sadness.

my response to people who say things like 'oh, she's so angry' is: of course she's angry! do you live in the same world i do?

Anonymous said...

Ah, Memories...

Still one of my all-time favorite CDs. She's also incredible live. I got to see her when she opened for Barenaked Ladies a few years ago.


PS. Did you get my email, Kam?

kate.d. said...

yes. a fantastic album. the themes and style can veer into "evidently only 20 years old" territory, but there's nothing wrong with that. i still listen to a lot of it on my iPod.

then she had to go dye her hair blond, find buddha, and marry that obnoxious van wilder guy. so very frustrating!

Naiades said...

Over in the uk, men's art is often applauded 'because' it's angry, i don't know what its like over there but over here angry young men are often celebrated for their grit and reality. I don't think angry young women get the same breaks.

BetaCandy said...

Hope it doesn't seem heavy-handed for me to post here - I wasn't the one who wrote that article, so I'm really just here because this interested me. :)

You're making a very good point. I'm not an Alannis fan, generally, but I loved that song - specifically, the live acoustic version she did for the Grammys. I bought the CD single of "You Live, You Learn" (which I hate) just to get it. It's just a great, great song about getting tossed aside.

What bugs me is that if a male musician brilliantly expresses his anger at a woman who betrayed him, women can relate to the singer. But if a woman does the same thing in song, men feel attacked by  the singer.  

Posted by BetaCandy