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6 Things You May Not Have Known About The Singles Released From Alanis Morissette's 'Jagged Little Pill'

It takes one heck of a successful album to deliver a six pack's worth of hit singles, but that's exactly what Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill managed to do, earning a half-dozen Hot 100 hits: "You Oughta Know" (#6), "Hand In My Pocket" (#13), "Ironic" (#4), "You Learn" (#6), "Head Over Feet" (#8), and "All I Really Want" (#58). In celebration the album's 20th anniversary—an occasion which has resulted in the release of a new multi-disc reissue of Jagged Little Pill—here are six things you may not have known about these singles.

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1. Virtually none of the musicians on Jagged Little Pill are “big names” in the traditional sense of the phrase, but there are two Red Hot exceptions on “You Oughta Know.”

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In Entertainment Weekly’s oral history of the album, producer Glen Ballard credits Maverick Records' Guy Oseary with the idea of punching up “You Oughta Know” by bringing Flea and Dave Navarro into the studio to add a little bloodsugarsexmagic to the track, but in the CBC’s oral history of the album, Oseary says otherwise.

“There's a guy named Jimmy who I was hanging with at the time who played in ‘You Oughta Know,’ and he just kept saying, ‘Gosh, imagine what this would sound like with a stronger bass and guitar,’” said Oseary. “So he had the immediate vision for it. And then I talked to Alanis and Glen and asked if we could try to let Jimmy see out his vision. And so we did: we brought in Flea and Dave [Navarro], who were friends, and they tried it and the rest is history.”

To our way of thinking, Oseary probably wouldn’t pass the buck if he’d actually had the idea himself, but whoever was responsible, the end result was still a #1 hit on Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks chart and Alanis’s first top-10 single on the Billboard Hot 100.

2. Although Paula Cole probably thanks her lucky stars that it didn't come to pass, "Hand In My Pocket" was originally set to be the theme song for "Dawson's Creek."

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Although it’s hard to imagine the opening credits of Dawson’s Creek unspooling to anything other than Paula Cole’s “I Don’t Want to Wait” (as evidenced by the outcry when it had to be replaced with Jann Arden's "Run Like Mad” when the series began streaming on Netflix), that wasn’t always the plan. In an interview with The Huffington Post, producer Paul Stupin revealed that when he and series creator Kevin Williamson took the cast to film the title sequence for the series, they’d originally envisioned “Hand in Pocket” playing, to the point that it “was so ingrained in all of our heads that the thought of putting in another piece of music was just inconceivable.” Indeed, the song can be heard over the credits in the series’ original pilot.

So what happened? Well, if you trust the Huffington Post piece, the producers neglected to secure the rights to the song, and before the series premiered, the WB told them that the acquisition of “Hand in Pocket” was no longer in their price range. As it turns out, though, the Post should’ve Googled a bit more: in a 1998 Toronto Sun article, Garth Ancier—then the president of Warner Brothers’ entertainment division—stated outright, “Try as we might, at least for the time being, she didn’t want to let her music be used.” Eventually, however, Alanis sort saw the light: in the series finale, the original opening credit sequence was shown as if it was an old home movie, and—lo and behold—the song playing behind it was “Hand in Pocket.”

3. If Morissette had gone with her instincts instead of trusting Glen Ballard's, "Ironic" wouldn't even have made it onto the album.

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It may or may not be ironic that "Ironic" was the third song written for Jagged Little Pill and ended up as the third single released from the album—honestly, that song so screwed up our understanding of irony that we may never recover—but one thing's for certain: Glen Ballard was way more of a fan of the track than Morissette was.

"I kind of pushed that one to make it," Ballard told Entertainment Weekly. "I liked it musically, and I liked the playfulness of it, but also her take on what she says in the bridge: 'Life has a funny way of helping you out when you think everything’s going wrong.' Life is never what you think it is, and I thought it was a huge amount of wisdom from such a young person, to be able to look at fate and twists of fate."

Morissette viewed the song as one of her last efforts before fully blossoming as a songwriter and was less confident of its long-term worth, but Ballard convinced her that its inclusion was a must, and she gave him the benefit of the doubt. "I think the malapropism in 'Ironic' was the only thing I regretted," she told the CBC, laughing. "I was, like, 'Oh, God... If I knew more than 10 people were gonna hear this, I would've been a stickler instead of being shamed publicly, planetarily, for 20 years!'"

4. Morissette and Ballard were in the middle of writing "All I Really Want" when they got the fateful call to go and meet with Maverick Records.


When the call came in from attorney Ken Hertz that Guy Oseary of Maverick Records wanted to take a meeting in regards to a possible record deal, “I think I was wearing sweatpants,” Morissette told Entertainment Weekly. “And I said I wasn’t going anywhere because it looks like I just woke up.” Hertz was insistent, however, so Morissette acquiesced

It worked out well: it only took 30 seconds into listening to “Perfect,” Oseary was already firmly convinced that he wanted to be in the Alanis Morissette business. “From the downbeat on the first song, he was into it,” said Hertz. “It was fantastic. It was a magical experience when you stop and think about it. It doesn’t happen like this except in your imagination.”

5. Jagged Little Pill doesn't have a title track, per se, but the three words can be found in the lyrics of "You Learn"

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Okay, we admit it: this is probably the one entry on this list that you might actually have known. Still, it's been 20 years since the album came out, and there's a decent chance that you might've forgotten that "You Learn" kicks off with the lines "I recommend getting your heart trampled on to anyone / I recommend walking around naked in your living room / Swallow it down, what a jagged little pill / It feels so good, swimming in your stomach."

It's worth noting, however, that the lyrics to "You Learn" did more than just inspire the album's title: at a November 2011 tour date in Nebraska, Taylor Swift took the stage with the words "“I recommend getting your heart trampled on to anyone” written on her arm. Gosh, who could've imagined that an album featuring songs about bad breakups and having your heart ripped in two would've appealed to the woman who sang "We Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together"?

6. "Head Over Feet" was never released commercially as a single in the US, but it became a hit radio single because radio made it one.

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After the release of "You Learn," Maverick made the executive decision to stop releasing singles from Jagged Little Pill, which was a reasonable enough position to take...or at least it would've been if radio hadn't so vehemently decided that it wasn't yet done delivering hits from the album.

In his book Alanis Morissette: A Biography, Paul Cantin describes how KROQ started to spin "Head Over Feet," and other stations started following suit, resulting in the track settling into regular rotation around the country. In turn, Alanis co-directed a video for the song with Michelle Laurita, and between that and the song's radio airplay, "Head Over Feet" could suddenly be heard all over the place.

Behold the power of radio!

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