Talk of the Nation

Alanis Morissette, pedagogue

I thought the video for "Thank U" was totally nasty. Why is she naked? And she's saying "Thank U." I so do not understand it. She's a major slut. Alanis sucks!

--Niki, from a recent posting on


Recovering "sexy treadmill capitalist" Alanis Morissette
Recovering "sexy treadmill capitalist" Alanis Morissette

Dear Niki is so wrong. I like Alanis a lot. I bought Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie the day it dropped and read a lot of interviews and watched the MTV stuff and Before They Were Rock Stars on VH1, a channel I never usually watch, which mostly has shows about old rock stars who took, like, a sack of cocaine and crashed their boat so we're supposed to, like, cry about it. A lot of interviewers ask Alanis about religion, you know, about what's up with "Thank U, India" and why thank a country and all that. For people like me who aren't old enough to be religious, we know Alanis isn't saying we should be Hindu or Bootist or whatever. She's just telling us to say whatever we need to say. That it's okay to be smart or okay to be dumb or trip on some cracks or to think too much maybe or to not think at all (if we want). If she feels the need to get all up on God's jock, it's okay, because she's 25 and that's almost 30.

Alanis is brave. She was totally naked in her video for "Thank U," which just makes prissy Niki mad because she thinks every naked person on TV wants to sell sex. I read that Alanis took some of her image from riot grrrls which is what Courtney Love used to be. I've never actually heard them, but it could be true, only Alanis uses bigger words probably and doesn't take out her tampon and fling it around (gross!).

My brother who's older says Alanis's songs are almost not even songs because the music just plays and she goes on and on or just goes off and crams nerdy words into too small spaces but I said so what? I said he is brainwashed by songs. I told him if radios are for moving sounds from over here to over there, what sounds they are doesn't matter unless they suck, like Dave Ryan in the Morning or the Grateful Dead. He said, huh, that's interesting because drum 'n' bass isn't on the radio and it should be.

Anyway, I thought I'd send you this thing I've been working on. It's like a dictionary of words about Alanis. I'll admit it, when I first listened to SFIJ, my best friend Tiff and I used a dictionary for a lot of Alanis words like "masochistic." It's a pain at first but ultimately totally worth it. So, maybe you can post this and it will help some stupid Nikis to properly dig Alanis.


Mentor: I learned this on 104.1--The Point. The fake DJs with the echo voices explained Alanis's song "Unsent," where I first heard this word. I wanted to call and give my opinion, but I could tell they just pretend to be in Minneapolis but are really somewhere else. Anyway, the song's about not sending letters you write to guys, which I totally understand since I've written a lot but never sent even one! So okay, a mentor is someone who teaches you something and you have sex with them and then you lose touch and sometimes think about it and get sad (unless you're Monica Lewinsky, who probably got mad).

Precocious: Acting older, which people say Alanis did, but now she's 25 so she can use big words and sit on the bus naked and be mature and people won't get so upset or say she's preachy.

Dogmatic: Preachy.

Disillusionment: This is one of the things Alanis thanks in "Thank U." It's when you don't believe what you used to believe about things, which sounds bad but which can be really helpful, like terror.

Phrasing: How you say words in songs. If you read my Alanis scrapbook, you'd see that she is famous for saying words kind of wrong, which makes you notice them more. Most of the wrongness I have to admit I don't hear because I just learned the words from Alanis. My brother says she pronounces things like a snob. Like on her last CD in "You Oughta Know," she says "go down on you in a theatre." My brother said he'd take a blowjob anytime anywhere but not from a snob chick who says "thea-tuh."

Song: Bro says songs have verses and choruses that stay the same every time. I'll admit that by these standards Alanis's music is f*&$ed up. Like in "Front Row," she sings, "I'm in the front row with popcorn," like, she's watching her asshole ex - boyfriend live his life and he can't hurt her anymore. It sounds like she's over him, but then these little scrambly Alanis voices in the back say, "I'm - too - tired - to - recount - the - unpleasantries - one - by - one - minute - I - want - to - banish - you - the - next - I - want - to - be - on - a - deserted - island - with - you - along - with - my - three - favorite - CDs - ambivalent - yet - in - your - bed - we've - yet - to - acknowledge - what - really - happened." Not a song maybe but still cool, see?

Next Page »