When it comes to women in music, I have a lot of lady heroes. I could name dozens of women who have inspired, shaped, and influenced me as an artist and a person. For as long as I have been listening to music, however, one artist has stuck out above the rest as the woman I most admire, and would most readily call my lady hero. That woman is Alanis Morissette.
As a kid growing up on the cusp of the new millennium, it was often hard to feel any sense of stability in a constantly evolving world. A lot of my youth was spent online, trying to feel sane, if not even special, amongst a sea of pre-teens going through exactly what I was feeling. Instead of feeling a sense of familiarity within the throngs of young people pouring their hearts out on social media, I felt alienated and alone at the thought that to a computer algorithm. I was no more than a number. I was an angry, nervous, overly emotional girl who felt like she had no voice and no place at the table. Then, sometime in my early adolescence, I heard Jagged Little Pill for the first time.
Though the album came out a year and a half before I was born, to a neurotic 14-year-old, Jagged Little Pill sounded perfectly contemporary. I instantly resonated with the apparent dichotomies of “Hand in My Pocket,” and I remember feeling like out of all the people I’d seen go through struggles similar to mine, Alanis was the only one who really got it. When I found out just how much we had in common aside from emotional angst, I felt even closer to her work. Like Alanis, I was also raised taking dance classes, dabbling in theater, and singing mezzo-soprano.
In Alanis, I found not only a lady hero but also a confidant. Being young and mentally ill is a very specific, delicate issue, and it was one that I didn’t like to talk about much. Listening to Jagged Little Pill was, in a way, like therapy. It didn’t matter that I was sad, or lonely, or afraid because regardless of my emotional state, Alanis had a song to go along with it. When I was 16 and my heartsickness turned to anger, I had a mp3 of “You Oughta Know” waiting for me to blast it through the living room stereo system. When I was 17 and felt like the world was against me, I had “Ironic” on vinyl to spin as many times as I wanted (until the disc wore out, of course).
Now, at 20, I still have those feelings of cosmic insignificance, but I also have an ace up my sleeve: a subscription to Spotify that lets me jam out to Alanis Morissette’s entire discography. I might never stop feeling like my emotions are too big for me to handle, but one thing that will outlast even the longest depressive spell is Alanis’ legacy as a musical genius and my personal lady hero.