So, back on Friday 13th July, I fulfilled one of those ambitions that sits on my as-yet unwritten bucket list when I went to see Alanis Morissette perform live for the first time. As a little bit of personal background to this night out I need to take you back to 1995. I was 24 and, having left university three years earlier, I was finding my feet in life: living with my parents whilst still coming to terms with my rejection of the faith in which they had raised me, stubbornly girlfriend-less and getting some reasonable money from a job that never really satisfied me. In all that self-absorbed, woe-is-me, first-world inner turmoil, I never really cared or gave much thought to the world around me and the real problems that other people might be enduring. I must’ve been a nightmare to be around. My musical tastes of the time were painfully middle of the road, I’d never really given much thought to exploring beyond whatever happened to be on the radio at the time, and a glance at my paltry CD collection would have revealed as much with a largely male-dominated catalogue of nothing too noteworthy.
One lazy Saturday, browsing the shelves of the local Our Price store, I spied the cover of Jagged Little Pill and for reasons I cannot recall, I just thought I would ‘give-it-a-go’. It sat in the bag for the best part of 24-hours, a spur of the moment purchase, forgotten as soon as I’d got home. And then I remembered it, popped it in the CD-player and from the first blast of the harmonica on “All I Really Want” I was hooked. I remember getting to the end of that first track and just pressing the back-button to listen to it again. And again. And again. It was raw, heart-felt, heart-breaking, angry, joyous, and lyrically unlike anything I’d heard before. If anything, the confrontation of it all unsettled me. The first line of the album is, “Do I stress you out?”… well, yes you do Alanis, but I like it. It was the first time I think I’d ever been challenged by music, and it was a challenge I was happy to accept. Eventually I let the disc spin on to track two and, bugger me, “You Oughta Know” might’ve been even better. Jagged Little Pill was one of those seminal albums for me where each track is stunning and the whole thing changes your life just a little bit. It made me a feminist before I even understood what feminism was.
So I found myself at the Hammersmith Apollo twenty-three years later. The lights dropped, the audience jumped up, the band started up their intro music and then Alanis bounded on stage, flawlessly blasting that harmonica again before launching into “All I Really Want” once more. One of my favourite artists and one of the greatest gigs I’ve been to.
Enough about me, let’s talk about you for a minute
Enough about you, let’s talk about life for a while
The conflicts, the craziness
And the sound of pretences falling
All around, all around