Alanis Morissette - Singer/Songwriter Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Alanis Morissette - Singer/Songwriter

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Alanis Nadine Morissette was born on 1 June, 1974, to Alan and Georgia Morissette; she has two siblings, Chad, her older brother, and Wade, her twin brother, who is the person referred to in her song 'No Pressure Over Capuccino'.


She spent her first 18 years living in Ottawa in Canada, after graduating from High School, she moved briefly to Toronto, staying there for less than a year before moving to Los Angeles. She was robbed at gunpoint shortly after moving there, but claims that the experience made her love the city all the more, attracted as she was by its 'underlying sense of danger'.


Morissette was raised in a Catholic household and attended church every Sunday, which is where the song 'Forgiven' came from. Although she no longer considers herself Catholic, she is still evidently very interested in the spiritual side of life.


Her musical influences while growing up were Abba and Annie Lennox, but the principal force behind the writing of the immensely successful seminal album Jagged Little Pill came from listening to Little Earthquakes by Tori Amos, with whom Morissette toured America in the latter part of 1999.

Morissette began taking jazz and ballet classes from the age of seven, and was a straight-A student in High-School.

Before hitting the big time with Jagged Little Pill, she was already a star in Canada from a young age. She had recorded two albums - Alanis (1991) and Now is the Time (1992) - before Jagged Little Pill came out in 1995, although they are much more teeny-bopper and disco-orientated in style, and her hair at this period has to be seen to be believed.

Recent Albums

  • Jagged Little Pill1 (1995) is certainly one of the most influential albums of the decade as it seemed to sum up the zeitgeist of the time. Indeed, there was a period during the middle of 1995 that, wherever you went, it would be playing. From the reflective angst of 'All I Really Want', through to the anthem for the spurned, 'You Oughta Know', to the sheer poppiness of 'Ironic' and 'Hand In My Pocket', JLP managed to alter the way that the angry young woman was perceived in popular music, and spawned a dozen Alanis clones.

    Morissette herself has said that the album is not intended to be angry, and that she has been wrongly perceived. Regardless of perception, however, it did prove to be the most successful 'debut' ever2. Madonna signed Morissette to her own label, Maverick Records, and they have since proved good for one another.

    Glen Ballard, with whom Morissette produced this album, has been her long-time musical collaborator, and she describes him as her 'spiritual brother' and 'best friend'. The album won two Grammy awards - Album of the Year and Best Rock Album - and the song 'You Oughta Know' won Best Rock Song (songwriter) and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for Morissette. The title of the album comes from a line in the song 'You Learn', which is about what life's experiences can teach.

  • Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie (1998) was released three years after the success of Jagged Little Pill and this album ploughs an altogether different furrow. Morissette went to India for a period after her enormous success, to re-evaluate a number of things in her life, and this re-evaluation shows clearly in the album's songs. Songs like 'That I would be Good', 'I Was Hoping' and 'Your Congratulations' reveal a much more vulnerable side to the artist, and although the album lacks the fiery resonance and crowd-stomping fury of JLP, it has been tempered into a more reflective form. It is much more of a 'stream of consciousness' composition.

  • MTV Unplugged (1999) was released in the latter part of 1999 and is an acoustic live album, with emphasis placed on the unusual range of Morissette's voice, backed by some excellent musicians and an entire string section. This is possibly the strongest of the albums she has released, featuring a selection of songs from the previous two, along with some new material - especially the song 'Uninvited', which won Morissette a Grammy Award to add to her previous four.

1Abbreviated JLP here.2JLP was not strictly a debut, but it was so different from her earlier work that it may as well have been.

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