I don’t know about anyone else, but when I was a teenager, I felt a little lost. I wanted and needed someone who spoke to me and for me. I found that someone in Alanis Morissette and her breakthrough album, Jagged Little Pill. Produced by and co-written with Glen Ballard, it became an instant classic the moment it was released.
Yesterday was Jagged Little Pill‘s 25th anniversary.
As an artist, Alanis gave her listeners the permission and room to feel. Some of the lyrics are not pretty or easy to hear. They are difficult, challenging, and speak of the hard truths in life that we all have to face at some point. As a woman in the music business, she faced the same prejudices that female artists still face today. In writing how she saw the world, she became a trailblazer, an icon, and a hero for women.
I have loved this album for the last 25 years and I hope to love it for another 25 years.
Human beings make mistakes. It is a part of life, as much as we may hate it.
One of the harder aspects of depression (at least from my perspective) is perfectionism. In a nutshell, it is the ultimate desire to be perfect and the toll it takes to reach a goal that is forever unreachable. In my case (and I suspect in many others who suffer from mental illness), the unrealistic expectations create a negative emotional spiral, regardless of whether a mistake has actually happened.
It feels like failure is not an option and will never be an option. The only way to be is perfect, knowing full well that perfection is impossible. When a mistake is imagined, it could easily trigger an anxiety attack. When a mistake is real, it feels nothing short of life shattering. It’s as if we are unworthy of all the good things that life offers, unless we are perfect.
Perfect is one of the songs on Alanis Morissette’s ground breaking 1995 album, Jagged Little Pill. I can’t think of a better way to sum up the disease that is perfectionism.
Family is complicated. Life is complicated. Bring those together and you have a complicated reality.
The new musical, Jagged Little Pill (based on the groundbreaking 1995 album by Alanis Morissette) takes place in suburban Connecticut. The Healy family appears to be picture perfect. Steve Healy (Sean Allan Krill) works long hours in the city, creating an emotional rift between himself and his family. His wife, Mary Jane (Elizabeth Stanley) does everything she can to be the perfect wife and mother. But an off stage car accident and a prescription for post surgery pain killers has led Mary Jane down the road to addiction.
Their son, Nick (Derek Klena) is everything a parent would wish for in a teenage son. His collegiate path seems to be headed straight to the Ivy Leagues, but Derek is not sure if this is the best option for him. Adopted daughter Frankie (Celia Rose Gooding) is unsure about her place in her mostly White community. Focused on social justice and getting into a relationship with her best friend Jo (Lauren Patten) is only the beginning of her struggles.
With a book written by Diablo Cody, Jagged Little Pill is more than the standard jukebox musical. The narrative includes thorny issues such as addiction, sexual assault, finding your sexuality, growing up, etc. But instead of being written as if standing on a soapbox, Cody naturally integrated the issues into a story of a family going through a rough patch.
Though the impression is that one needs to be a fan of Morissette and her music to enjoy the show, that is not necessarily true. It helps to know the songs, but not knowing them is not a deterrent for seeing and enjoying the show. I don’t see Broadway musicals very often, but this (for me at least) is one for the books.
I will warn that some long time Morissette fans might be a little put off by change of some lyrics. The changes were only made to match the narrative and are still the same songs that we have known and loved for 25 years.
I absolutely reccomend it.
Jagged Little Pill is playing at the Broadhurst Theater in New York City. Check the website for showtimes and ticket prices.
20 years ago, producer Glen Ballard and singer/songwriter Alanis Morisette sat down to collaborate on Jagged Little Pill. It has since sold more than 33 million copies and is one of my favorite albums of all time.
This album is nothing short of cathartic and real. Right Through You is about fake people and seeing them for who they really are. You Oughta Know is still perfect song for when your significant other has left you for someone else. Head Over Feet is about falling in love. You Learn is about falling down and then picking yourself right back up. Perfect is when you feel like you are not meeting the expectations of your elders.
This album got me through my teenage years and still gets me through the rough spots of life.
Thank you, Alanis Morisette and Glen Ballard for this amazing album. Even after 19 years, it is still my go to album when the emotions are swirling around my psyche and I need to express myself.