Alanis’ Chaos theory
There is one aspect of performing that has scared Alanis Morissette for years.
And when it comes to personal growth and challenging herself, two things the 29-year-old Ottawa-born singer clearly believes in, she mostly takes the “baby steps” approach.
But there are times, and lately she started to believe this particular problem was one of them, which require a “quantum leap.”
And that is how, in a recent performance, she found herself shooting a quick glance at a concert-goer in the front row.
It was only a millisecond, she says, but it was still longer than she’s ever spent meeting the eyes of such close-proximity fans while belting out her hits on stage.
“I’ll look people in the eye if they’re not in the front row,” laughs Morissette, who admits she has long found the concept terrifying. “I’ll stare at them for five minutes!”
It’s an interesting admission from a singer/songwriter who has chronicled her journey from Canadian pop singer to angry young woman to self-possessed, well-rounded artist who seems, at last, to have found a comfortable peace.
She’s no longer hiding behind that mess of hair that was so unique when she broke through with her 1995 album Jagged Little Pill. It had grown tired nine years later, and she hacked most of it off herself on a whim this winter.
OPEN ABOUT RELATIONSHIP
She’s open about her relationship with Vancouver-born actor Ryan Reynolds (last month, while Morissette prepared to perform and then introduce the Dalai Lama at the Ottawa Civic Centre in front of 9,000 fans, Reynolds trotted around backstage with their newly-adopted dog, a white chihuahua-terrier mix named Boogs) singing about their relationship in the eastern-influenced Bees of My Knees, one of 10 pretty happy songs on her fourth studio album, So-Called Chaos, due out on Tuesday.
And on the cusp of turning a landmark 30 next month, a birthday she swears she is looking forward to, and with it marriage and motherhood, Morissette seems unworried about where the music world is going to take her.
When she says, “I’ll be making records when I’m 103,” somehow, you believe her.
Almost a decade after Jagged Little Pill, the heat seems to be off Morissette, or at least the weight of expectation that she will never be able to measure up to its 30-million-selling-album success.
And though it’s sort of obvious to an outsider what So-Called Chaos is all about — joy! love! acceptance! — when the songwriter herself is asked to explain it, she’s at a bit of a loss. “I don’t have objectivity on it until a few years later,” says Morissette, during a recent phone interview with the Sun. “Similar to if you take a photo of yourself, in the moment you can appreciate it, but it’s 10 years later when you look at it that you have a sense of where you were at that time.”
The album, a lighthearted, soft-tongued snapshot of Morissette right now, is worlds away from the angst that made her so famous all those years ago. She’s deeply in love, good, non-jagged love, a state which is palpable and more than a little inspiring in the simple, repetitive first single Everything.
“You see all my light/and you love my dark,” goes the radio hit’s oft-repeated refrain.
“It’s such an epitomy of what true love is,” says Morissette, stressing the song refers to both loving others and our fractured selves. “Ever since I was a very young girl I was always obsessed with, at one point, loving all parts of myself, the part that is greedy, and generous, and stupid, and smart. It’s like a dream come true in that way.”
And in loving yourself, perhaps, comes the realization that there are things about you that have to go. And Morissette does just that on This Grudge, a ballad about the deeply hurtful past relationship she’s held on to for, as the opening lines indicate “fourteen years, thirty minutes, fifteen seconds.”
“You’ve been villified/Used as fodder/You deserve a piece of every record,” she sings. “But who’s it hurting now?/Who’s the one that stuck?!/Who’s it torturing now?/With an empty knot in her stomach.”
Morissette knows people love her for all that angry resentment which sparked her to use her past heartbreak as “fodder” for all these years. But she says, these days, she’s realized it’s really just a lot more fun to write about infatuation.
“As long as there is passion,” says Morissette. “I can be passionately infatuated or passionately enraged or passionately bored … as long as there’s a passion I’ll continue to write.”
Alanis’ Chaos theory