So in the last month or so, Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” has been following me around.
Of course I’d heard it on the radio when it came out, and other singles from that album floated around for the last 15 years or so, but when Jagged Little Pill came out I was heavily into Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson, and while I didn’t necessarily hate “You Oughta Know” it was simply not really what any of my friends or I were listening to.
My friends were into Nirvana and Soundgarden and the radio in the art room at my high school was glued to classic rock since we could all agree that Led Zeppelin was cool, so that was the compromise station.
I was also first getting into the likes of Skinny Puppy and still heavily into post-punk like Public Image Ltd.
But Alanis seemed to belong to another world, the angrier side of the Lilith Fair chicks, and their fans were the most putrid stuck up cunts anyone had the displeasure of knowing throughout the late 90s.
Anyway, I guess a few months ago something I read on Cracked reminded me of “You Oughta Know,” then a more recent Kathy Shaidle piece on revenge songs written at PJ Media reminded me of the song and I actually listened to it a few times while watching the video. [This was in the last couple of weeks.]
And I really actually listened. Part of it is my songwriter brain chattering away analyzing it all, but I’ve also had life catch up with me a little more than I had in high school so I could connect to it.
And then I’ve heard it all over since, now that I’ve been noticing – I’ve heard it in a McDonald’s, I’ve heard it in the mall, different little snippets all over town.
And last night I heard it down the hall from my synth cave as one of the cover bands worked it out during their rehearsals.
Of course their version seems a little off since it’s a guy singing lines like “and will she have your baby?” and “every time I scratch my nails down someone else’s back I hope you feel it.”
OK, more than a little, it’s a lot off. Dude wasn’t changing any lyrics at all. And I realize in the modern age it could well be that a guy gets dumped by his boyfriend who decides he wants an older woman instead, and maybe there have been requests from their audience to do it and they don’t want to change the lyrics because the audience wants to sing along with the version they know from Alanis, but it still seems fucking freaky no matter how well-played it is.
Anyway, after mulling it over, last night I decided it would be fun to hear the entire album for the first time, and thanks to YouTube I was able to find that and listened for an hour.
For me, there were bits and pieces that I liked aside from “You Oughta Know” and of course several songs I recognized, but overall, it was too Lilith Fair for me still. A few cool turns of phrase, a few good moments, but mostly it made me zone out like so many hack girls singing at coffeehouses.
Ah well, I’m still not one for girl plus guitar quiet songs.
I was a little surprised to learn that Alanis did an all acoustic version of the album in 2005, after all, most of it already was pretty damn acoustic.
One song did strike me, though – at the end, “You Oughta Know” is repeated, this time with a hidden track tacked on: the a capella song “Your House.”
I think this a capella is one of the more haunting things I’ve ever heard. To the point where all this time later after its release, and with only that and “You Oughta Know” as songs I liked, I actually picked up a copy of Jagged Little Pill.