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Alanis Morissette: A Biography Paperback – March 15, 1998
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When You Oughta Know and the other singles from Jagged Little Pill first came blaring out of radios in 1995, their raunchy, confessional lyrics and hard-driving music suggested the arrival of another angst-ridden rock diva--no doubt with history of psychic dysfunction and substance abuse fueling her art. On the contrary, Canadian music journalist Paul Cantin's respectful biography tells us, Alanis Morissette is a consummate professional who wrote her first song at age nine and released a chart-topping Canadian pop album at 16 (in 1991). She had a happy childhood in a close-knit family, growing up in Ottawa, Canada's famously wholesome and dull capital.
Instead of yet another saga of individual excesses vented into a microphone, the real story here proves to be the more interesting drama of a serious, dedicated artist working to make her music more personally meaningful with the same discipline and drive that made her early commercial success possible. Detailed accounts of her collaborations with a slew of songwriters and producers show a maturing Morissette learning to trust her own instincts and stop trying so hard to please her mentors. The result, ironically, was a platinum-selling CD (Jagged Little Pill) that pleased almost everyone. Cantin's circumspect text doesn't offer much for gossip junkies, but his close focus on the creative process is ultimately more satisfying ... though I still want to find out who inspired the jealousy-crazed "You Oughta Know." --Wendy Smith
...[a] snappy, sympathetic bio... Morissette's fans will appreciate the well-researched back-stories to her confessional lyrics. -- Entertainment Weekly, Megan Harlan
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