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Alanis Morissette fans are still living and learning from the timeless lessons of ‘Jagged Little Pill’

Twenty-seven years after its release, Morissette is back on the road, belting the music of her seminal album.
/ Source: TODAY

Robert Levine remembers buying tickets so that his 10-year-old daughter, Quinn Rose, could see Alanis Morissette onstage at Madison Square Garden. The year was 1995, and the album Morissette was out on the road promoting was "Jagged Little Pill."

“I was 40 when ‘Jagged Little Pill’ came out and I fell in love with the voice and her look, but mostly the yearning pain I related to,” Levine, now 67, told TODAY. “That voice knocked me out. I got two tickets for my wife and my 10-year-old daughter to experience Alanis.”

His daughter, Quinn Rose, told TODAY that when she was younger, she and her friends would write Morissette’s lyrics down and then read them aloud in their classrooms like poetry.

“We’d wait for the secret song at the end and hear what true agony of love and heartbreak feels like, something we only could imagine through her a cappella cries,” the now 37-year-old explained.

Alanis Morissette performs in Montreal on the 2022 leg of her "Jagged Little Pill" 25th anniversary tour.
Alanis Morissette performs in Montreal on the 2022 leg of her "Jagged Little Pill" 25th anniversary tour.Patrick Beaudry

“I remember so vividly watching (Morissette) enter the stage in black stirrup leggings, a big baggy shirt and her long hair swinging in front of her face,” she remembered. “She paced back and forth on the stage of her own world. I was in total shock. This tiny, young woman gave this presence of not giving a flying f--- what we all thought. It was really like nothing I’d ever seen before.”

On Tuesday, July 19, the Levines reunited with Morissette at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts for her 25th anniversary “Jagged Little Pill” tour. Morissette took to the stage at the iconic location — the same site as the 1969 Woodstock festival — following her sold out tour from 2021, which was also one of the top worldwide tours of that year, selling over 500,000 tickets, according to Live Nation. Commemorating the album's silver anniversary, the tour was initially scheduled for 2020, but was postponed due to the pandemic.

“Watching her last night and watching my daughter, who is now 37, and an enormous fan was a dream come true,” Robert said. “A night I will never forget.”

After Garbage opened for Morissette, the 48-year-old singer-songwriter ran out onstage with her harmonica in hand. Between the two bands, a fervent fan went to the front barricades of the audience screaming “f--- Dave” with a T-shirt featuring the face of Dave Coulier. This was likely referring to the recent viral remarks made by the “Full House” star that after years of speculation, Morissette’s quintessential breakup anthem “You Oughta Know” is in fact about him. For this fan, her anger at him was more visible than ever. Morissette made no reference to his recent revelation during her performance of the canticle, hyper-focused on screaming its chorus to the thousands of fans seated below sharing her heartache and angst.

“She radiated love, pain and motherhood. Her voice radiated like a shock wave, and it just holds so much power still. Each song was a privilege.”
“She radiated love, pain and motherhood. Her voice radiated like a shock wave, and it just holds so much power still. Each song was a privilege.”Patrick Beaudry

Joseph Kline was 12 years old when “Jagged Little Pill” came out, and immediately, he was hooked on Morissette for life.

“I was a very sensitive kid with a lot of creative fervor I didn’t know what to do with,” Kline, 37, told TODAY. “I remember getting the cassette at The Wall in FSK Mall Frederick, Maryland, and holing myself up in my bedroom and listening to it through and through in total awe."

"Jagged Little Pill" — lovingly referred to as "JLP" by her fans — is often revered to as one of the greatest albums of all time. Even though Rolling Stone only ranked it at No. 69 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, the album was a critical and commercial success, spawning six successful singles. It won five Grammys, making the 21-year-old Morissette the youngest person to ever win album of the year up until that point. Till now, "JLP" has sold 33 million copies, making it one of the biggest-selling albums of all time, right behind works by Michael Jackson and Led Zeppelin. Last year, HBO produced a documentary reflecting on the album's legacy. (Although Morissette participated, she later denounced it.) The album was also turned into a jukebox musical of the same name, which was nominated for 15 Tony Awards including best musical.

"With little life experience — although the adolescent angst was brewing — to me this album was a vessel of self-expression in the form of sing-screaming in my bedroom," Kline said. "It wouldn’t be until many years later I realized my affinity to Alanis and this album was much deeper as I was maneuvering through early childhood traumas. Even at 12 years old, I was trying to find ways to purge and move through that.”

He added, “She allowed to me to do that.”

On Tuesday, Morissette didn’t speak much between her songs, instead performing dreamy, almost operatic arrangements of some of her newer work past “Jagged Little Pill.” She let the work speak for itself, infusing her performance with her signature hand gesticulations and stage pacing. At two points, she spun so fast and head banged so hard it made audience members dizzy just from watching.

“She shakes, spins and bangs her head and body with all cylinders fired,” Kline said of these impressive moments. “The guitars and strobe lights perfectly in-sync with the drums. It’s spiritual for me, and given the context of the song no doubt for her, too."

For Quinn Rose — who is now a mother to two young ones herself — she reflects on the music of Morissette differently than she did when she was younger.

“In the last three years her album has come back into the forefront,” she said. “Each song has a new meaning. I’m a mother now, and so is she. Her music still feels so relevant. I weep listening to ‘Mary Jane.’ When I was younger, I would skip that track. I just couldn’t relate."

Morissette infuses her identity as a mother into this show as well.

During a performance of her 2020 song “Ablaze,” which is literally about her three kids — Winter, 3, Onyx, 6, and Ever, 11 — a montage of photos and family videos was seen projected beyond her, showing sweet personal moments of Morissette as a mom. Also during a poignant delivery of the classic “You Learn,” she changed some of the lyrics to describe the inevitable lessons her kids will one day have to learn for themselves.

The conclusion of her show.
The conclusion of her show.Alexander Kacala

"I hear Alanis’ story more clearly now in each song," Quinn Rose said. "Her spiritual journey at such a young age, finding her power and overcoming traumas, sexual assault and eating disorders. Watching her become this all powerful woman of wisdom is so palpable. I really feel like we’re connected somehow through her music in some way.”

When they're old enough, Quinn Rose can’t wait to introduce her children to Morissette and her work. Her daughter, Wylie, was sad mom was leaving for the night to go to a concert. Maybe for the next tour, whether it's the 30th anniversary or the 35th, Wylie will join, another generation learning the timeless lessons of love, heartbreak, angst and anger Morissette penned so long ago but are still as relevant as ever.

“Seeing her live at 37 was so emotional,” Quinn Rose said. “She radiated love, pain and motherhood. Her voice radiated like a shock wave, and it just holds so much power still.

"Each song was a privilege.”