November 14, 2014

Writing Music: Jagged Little Pill

Writing Music is a series of posts where I talk about the music that inspires my creative endeavors. A new post goes up every Friday.

Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill  is an album that I used to love in college, then lost touch with for many years. I’ve returned to it since I started transitioning, as I’m finding a lot of new enjoyment in it.

This was Morissette’s most successful album, and it’s the one every album since has been compared to (none of them have been quite as good). And with good reason. This really is a powerful album. Every song is good, though some are better than others, and the best have a way of sticking with you. At least, they stick with me; they’re the kind of songs I will catch myself singing under my breath at odd times.

You Learn: This song’s lyrics lend the album it’s title (“swallow it down / what a jagged little pill”). It’s a great song, definitely my favorite on the album (as my iTunes play count will attest). It’s a song with a simple message: don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and learn from them when you do. I’ve needed that message a lot in the past two years in life, and I have tried to apply it to my writing habits as well.

Hand In My Pocket: Quirky, mellow, upbeat, a little funky. I just love this song.

Perfect: The music in this song is less gritty than on most of the other songs on the album, but the lyrics tell a compelling story about parents who expect things from their children that they could never themselves achieve. The kind of parent I try not to be.

Not The Doctor: This was a song I didn’t really “get” back in college, but now it carries a real meaning to me. This is basically a song about codependancy. As I spiraled into depression and dysphoria, especially in my 30s, I’m afraid I became the person she’s singing about in this song — not just about one person (though my ex would probably find many things to agree with in the lyrics) but also things and happenings and efforts. Trying to fill the void, placing all my worth in the perceptions of others and the outcomes of events … this song reminds me what I’ve risen above. I’m especially fond of this line:

I don’t want to live on ‘someday’ when my motto is ‘last week’

I used to be a horrible “someday” person; everything was put off, everything could be done tomorrow. While I’ve not quite pulled myself up to the level of “get it done last week,” I would like to think I live and work much more in the ‘today’ than I used to.

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Yup, no two ways about it: I love this album. It’s commonly one of the albums I drop into my writing music mixes (though that can be a bad thing, as I am prone to stop writing and sing along to the songs). If you’ve never listened to it, you’re missing out. Give it a try.



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