This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.
KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #367: You Oughta Know by Alanis Morissette.
When I was 19 years old, I was in the middle of my first year of university in Toronto. I can point to the fact that I was learning to shop, cook and clean for myself as being major accomplishments that I could be proud of. My schooling went well and I passed all of my courses. I had my first beers when I was nineteen, too. When Alanis Morissette turned nineteen, she released an album called Jagged Little Pill that turned out to be one of the biggest selling and most influential albums of all time. From that album came multiple hits songs such as “Ironic”, “All I Really Want”, “Hand in my Pocket”, “You Learn” and “You Oughta Know”. For this album, she won several Grammy Awards and is routinely name-dropped by modern female singers such as Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry and P!nk as being such an important and empowering female role model for them based upon this album. When Alanis Morissette released Jagged Little Pill, I was learning to wash and fold my underwear. As 19 year olds, I’m sure Alan’s and I both enjoyed our own, unique sense of accomplishment.
Alanis Morissette is from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Prior to releasing Jagged Little Pill, Alanis had already released two albums that can best be described as Teen Pop. She enjoyed a small following based on her early sound. But that early sound did not speak to who she felt she was nor did it address the issues she felt she was being faced with. As a nineteen year old, Alanis Morissette moved to Toronto and then to Los Angeles, where she met a producer named Glen Ballard. The two hit it off immediately and began writing songs together. According to Morissette, the lyrics to the songs that ended up on her album just poured out of her. For his part, Ballard states that he had a lot of difficulty believing that she was only 19 years old because of the experiences she was writing about and because of how self-assured and forceful she was about speaking her truth. The song “You Oughta Know” is a fiery tour de force that talks about a failed relationship in very forceful and explicit terms. It is sung from the point of view of a woman who feels she was mislead by the promises of a man who used her to get what he wanted and then moved on. Morissette used this opportunity to speak for entire generations of women who felt taken advantage of by men. Her defiant lyrics resonated with many women and helped inspire a whole new generation of singers to stand up for themselves. There would be no suffering in silence any longer.
***A small bit of music trivia for those interested in such things: bassist, Flea (from the Red Hot Chili Peppers) and guitarist Dave Navarro, (from the RHCP, as well as Jane’s Addiction), both play on the original recording of “You Oughta Know”. When Morissette toured in support of Jagged Little Pill, Taylor Hawkins (recently deceased drummer of The Foo Fighters) was her drummer.
There has been much speculation over the years as to who the male subject was in “You Oughta Know”. Alanis Morissette has never revealed who it was but, for years, I always heard that it was former Ottawa Senator hockey player Mike Peluso. Later rumours seemed to indicate that the man who “promised to hold me until you die” was none other than Dave Coulier who played Uncle Joey on the TV show Full House. Cast members from the show added credence to this rumour by bearing witness to phone calls from Morissette that came during dinner….”Did you forget about me, Mr. Duplicity? I hate to bug you in the middle of dinner!” In any case, “Uncle Joey” has issued non-denial denials about his role in this affair. However, as things stand now he is the man most closely associated with this song.
Alanis Morissette had a few other hits over the years but Jagged Little Pill remains the album she is most known for. As time has gone on and the album reached the 25th anniversary mark, there was renewed interested in Jagged Little Pill, the album and in Alanis Morissette, the singer. Just prior to the Covid-19 shutdowns, Alanis was touring in North America with a complete replay of her album. In addition, there was a Broadway musical based upon the album that had launched, too. The legacy of Jagged Little Pill is an enduring one. As for my legacy well, as much as my wife and I share the household chores, she won’t let me near the washer and dryer so, I am not sure if I have evolved as much as Alanis Morissette has since we were both nineteen year olds making our way through the world. Here is Morissette’s rippin’ rendition of “You Oughta Know” from her appearance (as a 20 year old) on The David Letterman Show. Enjoy.
The link to the official website for Alanis Morissette can be found here.
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