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In Alanis' own words:
THANK U: This song is near and dear to my heart because it really encapsulates the place I was in when I returned from India. It’s a perfect indication of the level of surrender and gratitude that I was swimming in at that time. To me it’s the perfect note to start out a collection on--with a deep sense of humility for the act of even being able to put a collection together because this is a real milestone in my career.
HEAD OVER FEET: One of my favorite songs from jagged little pill, and it would be remiss for me not to have a jagged little pill song early--I don’t want to be ignoring an album that introduced me to everybody in a very fierce way. This, as well as most other songs, seemed to write itself in about 30 minutes.
EIGHT EASY STEPS: This one to me is one of the funniest experiences I have had of busting my own chops in song. It’s sarcastic and unflinching and, yes, somewhat embarrassing. Only someone with a sense of humor and some levity about themselves could write some of the songs I’ve written--including some songs on jagged little pill, though that humor may have been missed by some people.
EVERYTHING: That song had to be on THE COLLECTION because it’s one of the most recent or most current snapshots of where I’m at right now. My dogged journey to return to wholeness has grown ever more intense over the last three years. I’m very inspired and fueled to stay as awake and as I can on this journey.
CRAZY: It was a song that I was obsessed with as a teenager, and during the Gap campaign, the lovely folks there asked me to submit a list of my favorite songs and Seal’s song was one of the first I chose because it brings back so many memories of my teenaged years. The main line, “You’re never going to survive/Unless you get a little crazy” is to me one of the simplest yet most profound statements. Seal and I exchanged sweet emails when I was about to cover his song.
IRONIC: The most ironic thing about “Ironic” is that it’s not chock full of ironies. That song to me is the least precious song I’ve ever written or collaborated on. That was the first song on jagged little pill that Glen [Ballard] and I wrote and at that point I had not yet begun writing 100autobiographically. We were just wetting our whistle as collaborators, trying successfully to amuse each other.
PRINCES FAMILIAR: I just see so many relationships breaking up when there’s the inevitable time of conflict. For me I see that as the beginning--not the end--in a lot of cases. This song is my beseeching the child’s father (and ultimately, parent) because I know how we tend to be attracted to that which is familiar when we start choosing romantic partners. It’s about going back to the horse rather than cutting off the cart. It’s about going back to that place when the blueprint to our psyches was being formed, and having a greater understanding of why we choose the partners we do.
YOU LEARN: This song captures how I felt when I moved to Los Angeles from Canada. It was a difficult transition for me culturally, emotionally--the whole gamut. I don’t know if I was fully turning lemons to lemonade at that point, but I was prophetically writing a song that would resonate with me further down the line.
SIMPLE TOGETHER: This is the saddest song that I’ve ever written--hands down. There’s simplicity and directness to it--the most distilled version of sadness I’ve ever put into a song.
YOU OUGHTA KNOW: Born and raised in a society that encouraged me to suppress my anger--to say the least--I have always felt while writing a song, or journaling or creating any form of art, there is a green light for me to express the most reactive, the most embarrassing, devastated, wounded and vulnerable parts of me in a very safe and non-destructive way. This wasn’t the first time I’d done it, but it connected with people to say the least, and it also offered a green light to other people. I believe a suppression of rage is a violence against one’s self. And I’ve been excited to express my rage in healthy ways over the last decade.
THAT I WOULD BE GOOD: I wrote that song in my closet. There were a lot of people in my house and so I closed the closet door, lit a candle, and wrote “That I Would Be Good” in about fifteen minutes. Basically it was when I was in the pressure cooker that was following up jagged little pill and that song became a kind of mantra or meditation that helped me through the pressure.
SISTER BLISTER: A very unspoken conversation I’ve come across in the feminist circles that I find myself in often--a rarely discussed topic. Sometimes someone will say, “Women are the worst with each other,” but then the conversation ends there. I was in the middle of working with a particular woman while I was making that record, and I was moved to address the matter in a song. It’s still a very charged song for me when I perform it.
HANDS CLEAN: If I had written about the “Hands Clean” subject matter during jagged little pill era it would come out more angrily--like “Right Through You.” That song is the result of my protecting someone by being secretive about what really happened. That theme had been carried on many, many times throughout my life. I would cover for people all the time. So it was really liberating to write “Hands Clean.” While I can be a vengeful bitch, that’s not my intention. My intention is to liberate myself from that kind of repression, and the constant taking care of someone else’s reputation at the cost of myself.
MERCY: I was invited to sing on that track after Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan had died after laying his vocal down for that track. Jonathan Elias, who created The Prayer Cycle album, invited me to finish the track and I felt so honored because I was already a huge fan of Nusrat. Jonathan wanted the album to feel as international as possible. My dad’s French Canadian, my mom’s Hungarian, so I translated the lyrics with my grandmother and I sang it in Hungarian. It was an honor to work on this and the other songs on the record.
STILL: I wrote this song in my hotel room in Dublin after having seen a screening of “Dogma.” Not only am I a big fan of Kevin Smith, but I was particularly drawn to his “Dogma” script because his Catholic upbringing paralleled mine. Kevin asked me if I was up to write a song for the end credits. I told him I’d watch the movie and I’d see if a song came forth. “Still” I wrote really quickly in the middle of the night a few days later. It’s sung from the perspective of who I perceive God to be, to all the people on the planet.
UNINVITED: I remember writing “Uninvited” almost as a way to step out of the radar and out of pressure cooker that was following up jagged little pill. It was a way for me to write another song with no pressure. It was my first step away from Glen, which in and of itself was a terrifying concept, but I think necessary. I saw a screening of “City of Angels” and wrote the song alone in my living room in fifteen minutes. It was the first song I’d written alone in many years.
LET’S DO IT, LET’S FALL IN LOVE: Irwin Winkler who directed De-Lovely, Rob Cohen and Irwin’s son Charles Winkler who produced the movie invited me to their office and said, “This is what we’re doing.” They asked me to pick from ten songs. I said “Yes” right away and I let them know that I had a background in dance. So my cameo in the movie involves my singing and dancing. I thought it was a sweet, whimsical jump off the radar to go into a genre that had nothing to do with what I do every day. This was a lot of fun for someone who grew up with Judy Garland fantasies.
HAND IN MY POCKET: I wanted to end with a tip of the hat to the jagged little pill album. For me that song fits in with the theme of stumbling my way towards wholeness--that song just speaks well to that duality in life. It feels like “Hand In My Pocket” started a chapter for me in that way, and it was a good way to end before beginning the next chapter.