Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!
As a teenager, she suffered from eating disorders – both bulimia and anorexia. She went to therapy to deal with these issues, and eventually learned that she had chronic depression. She was also plagued by anxiety attacks, which often happened when she was watching movies. She was prescribed medication, but never stayed on it, since she didn’t like they way the pills made her feel.
Alanis has explored relationships with women. Here’s what she said on the matter: “I never had any intentions of having my lifelong partner be a woman, but stranger things have happened. I was open-minded to it, but fortunately – or unfortunately – I realized I was heterosexual. In moments I wish it weren’t the case.”
Alanis is from Ottawa, Canada. She moved to Los Angeles in 1994 to work with Glen Ballard, who helped her write and produce her album Jagged Little Pill. She is just the second artist from Ottawa to have significant chart success in America; the first was Paul Anka.
Alanis was an actress as a child. She was on the Nickelodeon show You Can’t Do That On Television at age 10, and appeared in a movie a year later with Matt LeBlanc as her boyfriend. In 1992, she moved to LA to appear in the TV sitcom Just One Of The Girls.
She started writing songs when she was just 10 years old. In 1991 when she was 16, her first album, Alanis, was released, which was followed by Now Is the Time a year later. She co-wrote all of the songs on both albums (mostly with her producer Leslie Howe), and they sold well in Canada. The songs were of the Dance-Pop variety and a marked departure from her breakthrough release Jagged Little Pill, which was issued in 1995.
She opened for Vanilla Ice on his 1990 tour.
Her 1999 tour was sponsored by MP3.com. She received company stock in the deal, which was worth millions before the Internet bubble burst a year later. She did sell $1.5 million worth of the stock before it collapsed.
She was a teen star in Canada equivalent to Debbie Gibson or Tiffany in the US. She won a Juno award (Canadian Grammy) for Most Promising Female Vocalist in 1992.
She did not have a US record deal when she recorded Jagged Little Pill. She did not look for a label until she was done with it because she didn’t want the record company messing with it.
She signed to Madonna’s vanity record label Maverick Records after performing an acoustic audition for their executives.
She is the first Canadian female to have a #1 album in the US (Jagged Little Pill).
When she was a teenager in Canada, she did catalog modeling.
She used to date Dave Coulier, who was on the TV show Full House. They met at a hockey game in 1992.
Alanis was named after her father. Her parents were looking for an original girl’s name that was a derivative of his name, Alan.
She dated the actor Ryan Reynolds from 2002-2007. He was the first romantic partner she lived with – they both had houses in Vancouver, so they merged into one. After their split, Reynolds became a top dog in Hollywood and married other movie stars: first Scarlett Johansson, then Blake Lively.
She sang The Osmonds’ “One Bad Apple” on Star Search, a US TV show that tried to discover new talent. She lost to Chad the Singing Cowboy.
Fame was overwhelming to Alanis. She’s very much a people-watcher, and when she became a star, she suddenly became the one being watched. “I thought fame would offer a connection to people, but the opposite ended up being true,” she said.
She portrayed God in the 1999 movie Dogma.
She would smoke some occasional pot, but was never big on drugs. She says her only addictions were to work and food. “I was too much of a control freak to be a drug person,” she explained.
Alanis Morissette has a twin brother. Fellow musician Wade Morissette who is 12 minutes younger than his sister.
Alanis Morissette landed her first UK agony aunt gig on the Guardian‘s Weekend magazine. Her first column was in the January 16, 2016 edition of the supplement. The musician’s move into offering advice wasn’t a huge surprise as she also has a podcast that touches on similar topics to her new role.
So what are Morissette’s qualifications for telling people how to live their lives? She said it has for long been her job in her family: “Parents, brothers, even extended family members, that was the role I took on, because I suppose I had this combination of intuition and empathy. I cut my teeth, basically, listening for a living.”
In 2017, Jonathan Schwartz, who managed her from 2009-2016, admitted to stealing $4.8 million from Morissette and about $2 million more from other clients. It was an egregious and outlandish theft spread over more than 100 transactions. He used the money to pay for lavish vacations (including a trip to Bora Bora) and gambling debts.
She married the rapper Mario “Souleye” Treadway in 2010. She became a mom late in life, with her first child, a boy named Ever, arriving in 2010 when Alanis was 36. Daughter Onyx followed in 2016 and son Winter in 2019.
In the studio, it’s very often her first take that is used as the final vocal track, which was the case on “You Oughta Know.” Glen Ballard, who produced Jagged Little Pill and her next album, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, said in an interview, “When you’re working with Alanis Morissette, all you need to do is turn on the microphone, I promise you, because she is so distinctive and so completely tied to the lyric with her vocal approach.”
She has done her part to remove the stigma of breastfeeding in public; on the May 2020 cover of Health magazine, she is seen breastfeeding her son, Winter.
“You Oughta Know” is a song that is an angry message from a scorned ex-girlfriend directed at her former lover. Morissette has said it is about a specific person, but that person has not contacted her, and probably doesn’t know it’s about him. Morissette claims she will never say who this is about, just as Carly Simon has done with “You’re So Vain.”
The song was rumored to be about the actor Dave Coulier, whom Morissette dated for a time – Coulier says it was in 1992 when Alanis would have been 17 or 18 years old and he would have been 32 or 33 (hence the line “an older version of me”). Coulier played Joey on the TV show Full House, and is known for his Bullwinkle impression.
In a 2008 interview with the Calgary Herald, Coulier claimed the song is about their rocky former relationship. The actor/comedian said that he first heard the track when he was driving. “I said, ‘Wow, this girl is angry.’ And then I said, ‘Oh man, I think it’s Alanis,'” Coulier revealed. “I listened to the song over and over again, and I said, ‘I think I have really hurt this person.’ I tried to contact her and I finally got a hold of her. And at the same time, the press was calling and saying, ‘You want to comment on this song?’ I called her and I said, ‘Hi. Uh, what do you want me to say?’ And she said, ‘You can say whatever you want.’ We saw each other and hung out for an entire day. And it was beautiful. It was one of those things where it was kind of like, ‘We’re good.'”
Coulier later said that he only admitted to being the subject of the song to placate reporters who kept asking him about it. In 2014, he told Buzzfeed: “The guy in that song is a real a-hole, so I don’t want to be that guy.”
The lyrics came from a journal entry Morissette wrote during what she describes as “a very devastated time.” She told Spotify: “When I hear that song, I hear the anger as a protection around the searing vulnerability. I was mortified and devastated. It was a lot easier for me to be angry and feel the power from that anger versus the broken, horrified woman on the floor.”
Morissette started out as a dance-pop singer, releasing her first album in her native Canada in 1991 but then she was dropped from her label. Looking to change direction, she went to Los Angeles and met with producers, looking for someone to help fulfill her vision. She found her man in Glen Ballard, who worked for Quincy Jones’ label and produced the first Wilson Phillips album.
They had an instant rapport and easy songwriting chemistry, completing one song every time they met for a session at Ballard’s studio. “You Oughta Know” was written on October 6, 1994, after a three-month hiatus. By this time, Morissette was comfortable enough with Ballard to reveal her deeply personal lyric. After they worked up the track, she blasted out the vocal in one take.
Radio stations played this with different degrees of editing. The offending lines are “Would she go down on you in a theater” and “Are you thinking of me when you f–k her.” Some stations played a version that completely eliminated “down” and “f–k,” while others left in “down” and only cut a little of “f–k.”
It took a degree of courage for Alanis to sing these lines, and it was her producer Glen Ballard who offered the crucial encouragement. Said Alanis: “I thought, This is exactly how I feel, but I don’t want to hurt anybody. Glen just said, You have to do this.”
Morissette didn’t have a record deal when she recorded this song, and had a hard time finding any takers when she shopped it along with “Hand In My Pocket” and “Perfect” as a demo for the Jagged Little Pill album. The only major label to show interest was Madonna’s Maverick Records, whose 22-year-old A&R man Guy Oseary got very excited when he heard it. He signed her to Maverick in a deal that worked out rather well for the label when the album became one of the best-sellers of the ’90s.