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Alanis Morissette Says "Jagged Little Pill" Was About Everything She “Wasn’t Allowed to Feel”

Maverick RecordsIt’s been 20 years since Alanis Morissette unleashed her emotions on the world with the now-iconic album Jagged Little Pill. After releasing a four-disc collector’s edition on Friday to mark the milestone anniversary, Alanis reflects on the album’s lasting impact.

“For me, it was everything that I cared about,” she tells ABC Radio. “I cared about melody, I cared about it being authentic. I’d been raised in a culture -- Canada -- to be very polite, very ‘aw shucks.’ So I’d been sublimating a lot for a long time and art is nothing else if not unconscious being let out of the gate. So I was writing about all the things I quote-unquote wasn’t allowed to feel and it all blasted out.”

While she had previously cut her teeth in the music world by releasing albums in Canada when she was a teenager, nothing quite prepared her for the massive success of Jagged Little Pill when it was released in 1995. The album went on to sell more than 30 million copies worldwide, and spawned five top-ten singles, four of which went to number one including "Ironic," "Hand in Pocket" and "You Oughta Know."

“The record company thought Jagged Little Pill might sell a 100,000 copies and I remember saying to them, ‘Please don’t say that again to me. That’s too daunting. It’s too terrifying to think that that’s even an expectation,’” she says. “So I’m an anti-expectation kind of creature. I hate setting myself up to fail.”

But once the album’s first single, “You Oughta Know,” was released, everything changed.

“I did a gig at a place called Luna Park one night, really fun gig, and then the song came out the next day and the gig the next night at Dragonfly there was a line up around the block, so it was a huge shift,” she says.

She also had no idea the song would connect so deeply with people, or inspire another generation of artists. In August, Taylor Swift even invited Alanis on stage in Los Angeles to perform the song. Taylor called it “the greatest breakup song of all-time.”

“I didn’t know it would be so resonant with other people,” Alanis says. “I had that sort of naïve misconception that it was, that I was the only one going through this trauma. You know, I was the only idiot that would be this devastated. And then I came to see that a lot of people related to it, so I felt both excited about that and very empathic ‘cause I felt badly for people.”

The album -- and that song -- have proven they could stand the test of time, but for Alanis, time can be a funny thing. "In some ways it feels like it was 20 minutes ago and in other ways it feels like it was 120 years ago," she says. "Like, a whole different person."

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