The New Alanis : From Chaos to Cosmos

Introduction: On Alanis Morissette�s second visit to India, the petite and jovial seven-time Grammy winner, interestingly typecast as the �angry young woman in rock� spoke on her views on �safe rage�, �confessional writing� and her inexplicable connection with India. Alanis also performed at the MTV Immies enthralling the audiences.

�I want you to know that I'm happy for you
I wish nothing but the best for you both
An older version of me
Is she perverted like me
Would she go down on your in a theater
Does she speak eloquently?
And would she have your baby
I'm sure she'd make a really excellent mother�

These lines from a bitter-sarcastic hate letter titled �You Oughta Know� from a 21-year-old woman to a lover, who had betrayed her, crashed the charts in 1995 with the release of the smash-hit album �Jagged Little Pill� which went on to win �Grammy Album of the Year� and �Rock Album of the Year� honors. The singer / songwriter was none other than Alanis Morissette � maybe the most popular female confessional poet of our times. Men grew to like her because of her outspoken nature and her being attractive in a rustic yet feminine way. Women who have loved reading the likes of �Bridget Jones Diary� found an empathetic connection to her angst-filled lyrics setting her scores with her ex-boyfriends. The erstwhile �Canadian pop princess� who had won her first Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent to the Grammys) when she was ten globally became known as the �angry young woman in rock�. Courtney Love who described her as an artist who represented �safe female rage� however apologized a couple of years later and also wanted Alanis to play with her on her tour. Anti-Alanis sites sprung up harshly reprimanding her anger and felt that she was being repetitive through her autobiographical lyrics. To her detractors Alanis has this reply, � I do think the way of expressing our rage which isn�t attacking and violent would perpetuate a little less violence on the planet. I think repressing rage is what tends to be ultimately explosive. In my personal opinion there really aren�t any pit falls in confessional writing. As I evolve so do the songs and the subject matter I am writing about. It would be repetitive if I were to not change.�

Fast forwarding to ten years since �Jagged Little Pill� was launched we see a metamorphosised Alanis both in terms of an artiste and a human being. She seems overtly sorry to herself in her lyric �Sorry to Myself� making it actually sound far more ironic than her best-selling song �Ironic�. She explains, �I think I used to abuse myself over the years. Stereotypically I think women are encouraged to think of other people before they think of themselves. I do think the more I take care of myself the more valued I am to other people. So I am just turning around and apologizing to myself for putting myself last over the years.�

�Momma�s Boy� and �Mr.Duplicity� of her erstwhile lyrics have been replaced by love in real life. Now engaged to Canadian actor, Ryan Reynolds who makes �the knees of her bees weak� her latest album �So-Called Chaos� is mellower yet retaining her innate raw authenticity. Despite the deadline meetings, contracts and D-days to be met in her life (which she writes about in the title song of her latest album), her present life seems to be much less chaotic; tranquility seems to have set in her. Alanis realizes this change as much as her audiences. She says, � I am happy that I am not the same person that I was ten years ago. I would have been scared if I was that same person today. I like to read the works of anyone who writes autobiographically from authors of the self-help movement and anyone who is being courageous publicly and stretching oneself through art. I love the stories of people who have gone through great transformations in their lives.� The most obvious question that follows this answer is, �You mean people like yourself?� She laughs nodding, �Yeah, absolutely.�

On Alanis�s second visit to India in December 2004, the press was quite eager to know if her visits to India have attributed to the change in her. After all the first single from her album �Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie�, �Thank you India� was nominated for a Grammy for �Best Female Pop Vocal� and set the record for most copies sold by a female artiste by its first week with a sale of 4,60,000. Like most other foreigners Alanis is fascinated by India�s �food, color, scents and passion�, adores Mother Teresa and is into meditation. She also has in her a penchant for Indian Buddhism- she visited Varanasi and Bodhgaya on her first visit to India and this time she headed for Dharmasala. She confesses, �When I am in India I feel very much at home. I think that in my past life I was an Indian woman or man. I enjoy everything about this country. Even the eye contact here is a lot less scary. In Western cultures people just look at you and then quickly look away. So it is almost like they were afraid of connecting soul to soul. And here I feel it is an everyday occurrence.� Her Indian fans may be disappointed to know that the buzz about her getting married in India is a rumor though she definitely plans to revisit India. �I love Asia,� she says. When asked if she has been influenced by Indian music she says, �Coming from the West I am really intrigued by the scales in Indian music and the choice of notes in the lyrics. On this trip I intend to buy a lot of CDs to whichever places I am going to in India.�

When asked what scares her most as an artiste she says, �Not living up to my highest potential as a human being and a spirit. One thing that scares me a lot is not being aware of not why it is that I am on the planet consistently enough and not feeling connected to the source.� It seems that Alanis will continue with the confessional mode of song writing. �When I go into writing a song it takes no more than half-an-hour to write a song. My songs are really snapshots of various times of my life. If I am confused about something I am sure that by the time I have finished writing the song I will have some sort of clarity about it. I am currently working with Comedy Central in L.A, they are producing a TV show, it seems that they will be shooting it in January. They are behind the scenes, very autobiographically based skits based on a lot of my experiences, it�s under the guise of being fictionalized but it�s actually all of my stories being told. There�s a lot of humor too. � She however feels that that, �It would be really funny to write a song with a really misogynistic rap artist. I think most of the times what I do is very narcissistic, it�s my expression and it�s about my feelings so it would be fulfilling me to step into someone else�s world, I�d look forward to doing more of that.� But thematically if she is asked to describe her songs, she says they are, �Snapshots of various phases of my life. Ninety eight percent of the time I don�t change anything, I don�t change a lyric because I think they are like photographs.� Her fans may be wondering what her snap shot of her wedding album will be like. Having spent an exotic tropical Christmas with her fianc� in Bali I�m sure there�s remote possibility of �rain on her wedding day�. Ideally Alanis would like to write songs till she is 103 years old. So talking of Alanis�s photo album, one would wonder what the last snap shot of her album would be like!    


More by :  Pallavi Bhattacharya

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