Jagged Little Pill Is Actually Very Good.
(I didn’t want to link, but for clarity this article is a response to this mess: https://themuse.jezebel.com/jagged-little-pill-is-actually-very-bad-1833542975)
Since apparently in the Lord’s year 2019, women are starting opinion articles with opening lines about their husband’s opinions… I will start by invoking my wife. You see, she also has an EPIC vinyl collection. She spent her early 20s working in a record store and I get to reap the benefits. So we also have all of Fleetwood Mac along with all of Queen, Blondie, The Go-Gos, Cyndi Lauper, Dolly Parton and Elton John. And, my fellow millennials, I too, adore Rihanna.
But we do have a pretty big difference. My wife IS older than I am. She did work in a record store and has an Uncle who wrote songs with and for some of the musicians listed above, and yet, she has never and would never music-splain to me. We listen to vinyl together and separately, and for dance parties with our OWN preschool aged Baby Shark lovin’ daughter, and yet, the opinions (I mean, FACTS but… ) stated here are solely based on my own personal experience with this album and this music.
That’s right. This is an opinion piece that is about my own opinion. Needless to say, after my rage-read I re-listened to Jagged Little Pill last night with one hand on my whiskey and the other hand waving a middle finger… and this morning with one hand on my coffee and the other getting a kid ready for preschool. And I felt a wash of all the old feelings of rage and saddness and empowerment that it gave me upon first listen. Of course, I am not in the same place emotionally, but that doesn’t change the importance.
But enough about me, let’s talk about you for a minute. I am honestly so happy for any of my fellow “12-years-old in 1995” peers who were able to angstily listen to Alanis while reading Seventeen and not feeling good enough. Not that it didn’t suck to be that age. Being a preteen is hard, you couldn’t pay me to do it again. But Alanis was giving voice to female anger that went way beyond “OMG, why doesn’t Jace want to go out with me” She was giving voice to something much deeper in a way that we have rarely seen… in a way that SHAPED female dominated music in the mid-90s. The anger and the rage that she felt and expressed is primal and particularly female. See, when I heard Alanis at 12 I had to sneak it because I wasn’t allowed to listen to secular music, just like I wasn’t allowed to express anger or rage, just like I wasn’t able to speak about sexual assaults I had already experienced too young… something Alanis’ music has given voice to as well. I was 12, but my mom was terminally ill and I was caring for her and my sisters. I had a LOT of anger that I was taught I couldn’t have. For me, JLP was earth-shattering. Here was female rage being held up as good and okay and even, COOL. Aspirational anger?! Are you fucking kidding me. My little conservative Pentacostal school-attending mind was BLOWN. I listened to the radio on super low settings with my ear pressed up against the speaker, just waiting for any song from Jagged Little Pill. Later, after my mother died, even my younger sisters had a poster of Alanis on their wall. Her music spoke to all of us in an dark time.
Most women probably didn’t experience JLP in such an extreme way, but how on earth can anyone say that an album that ROCKED the music world is NOT VERY GOOD? Women older than me talk about the way it gave voice to their own anger in their 20s and 30s. I personally came back to JLP in my mid-20s when my fiance of 5 years cheated on me. My best friend made me a break-up playlist to channel all my feelings as my life and my plans and my future all when up in flames… the song that hit home the BEST, the one that truly felt like exactly what I felt? Well, You Oughta Know.
But enough about me, let’s talk about life for a minute…The nostalgia is absolutely part of the appeal of JLP and part of why it is soon to become a Broadway musical. But there is another reason, and that is the songs STILL resonate. Women still don’t get enough space for our rage. Hell, things that were and are important to women still don’t get taken seriously. For the love of the god played by Alanis in Dogma, NASA just had to cancel the first ever All-Female space walk because they didn’t have enough goddamned T-shirts in women’s sizes because it had NEVER OCCURRED TO THEM THAT MORE THAN ONE WOMAN AT A TIME WOULD DO A SPACE WALK.
There are a million mediocre albums out there in the world, but it’s cool to mock a feminist anthem, an album about female experiences and anger and love and loss and betrayal? Ask yourself why it was okay for you to mock and belittle an album you loved as a girl. Ask why your husband, who I am sure is actually a great guy, felt okay teasing you about wanting to own an album that won Grammys for album of the year AND best rock album and topped Billboard charts giving voice to female emotions. Ask why it’s STILL so difficult for women to get as much respect for their creative endeavors, ESPECIALLY when they dare to express actual emotions like ANGER. Why is female anger and sadness a joke? We as a society were laughing at female pain long before 1995 and we still laugh at it now. Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter.
Needless to say, put some respect on that vinyl.