For many, Alanis Morissette was the ’90s.
Videos by American Songwriter
Videos by American Songwriter
With her 1995 album, Jagged Little Pill, she rose to stardom, thanks to tracks like “You Oughta Know” and “Hand in My Pocket.” The LP sold more than 33 million copies.
Today, the 48-year-old, Ottawa, Canada-born former actor-turned-musician is outspoken and remains the subject of documentaries and conversations. She’s a Grammy winner and an icon, earning fame and fortune in the midst of the grunge era.
[RELATED: Top 10 Alanis Morissette Songs That Deserve a Revisit]
But what does Morissette have to say about the world outside of her many albums and songs? What are her thoughts on life and love, her craft, and the world at large?
Here are the 40 best Alanis Morissette quotes.
1. “My message to anyone who’s afraid that they can’t write music when they’re happy is, ‘Just trust the passion.’ The passion can write a lot of things.”
2. “There’s a continuity between what I care about in any form: I care about it in my music, in article-writing, in how I dress, in how I live, in my relationships, in how I navigate paparazzi, how I decorate my home. There’s such a continuity between everything that I don’t really care what form it shows up in.”
3. “I’m clearly most well known for my music. Eventually, ultimately, I’ll be writing books. I’m still writing articles now. I just consider myself a writer.”
4. “I did commit to myself that I would not jump back into being the workaholic that I can be before I gave myself an honest opportunity to create the marriage of my dreams and to create the beginning of the family of my dreams, and that took a hot second.”
5. “I need to be performing. I need to be acting. I need to be designing a condo and ripping down walls and buying new plates and looking at fashion magazines. There always has to be some movement in the artistic department for me to not get really, really low.”
6. “My favorite pastime used to be sitting on a park bench watching people. But after Jagged Little Pill, the eyeballs turned, and I was the watched one.”
7. “I think fame became exciting for me in the late ’90s because I could actually use it as a means to an end. I could actually have it help me serve my vocationfulness.”
8. “There was a period of time during the Jagged Little Pill era where I don’t think I laughed for about two years. It was a survival mode, you know. It was an intense, constant, chronic over-stimulation and invasion of energetic and physical literal space.”
9. “My son was five months old, and I built a makeshift studio in my living room so that I could do the attachment parenting approach and write the record at the same time. That was fortuitous, that we could build that in the house.”
10. “I want to poke holes in the erroneous beliefs about what fame provides. It won’t raise your self-esteem, it won’t create profound connection, it’s not going to heal your childhood traumas, it’s only going to amplify them. You’re going to be subject to a lot of criticism and praise, both of which are violent in their own ways.”
11. “Typically, I would run away from conflict and write about it—that was easier than staying and dealing face-to-face with humans; that’s terrifying for me.”
12. “Women are so powerful they’re scary, and the incentive to squash this has been going on for so long that some of us actually believe we’re subordinate.”
13. “I love to get to the underbelly of why people are up in arms about anything. Really, what I see is a big shadow in the West, in America especially, and everyone’s afraid of looking stupid. But the truth is, I’m a genius and I’m stupid at the same time.
14. “I’ll be writing records until I’m dead, whether people like it or not! I can’t not write; if I don’t, then I get really depressed. I’ll keep going, I promise!”
15. “Do I appreciate the idea of jealousy, revenge, and all these so-called dark qualities? Yes. Do I write these songs in order to engage in some public war with someone? No.”
16. “I just feel compelled to continue to be transparent. It just really levels the playing field and eradicates the shame that I have, or that one might have, about being human. So I’m going to just keep going.”
17. “It’s not just the ‘Grammys’ that I’ve pulled out of. I also pulled out of the English awards as well. The reason that I wanted to pull out was because I believe very much that the music industry as a whole is mainly concerned with material success.”
18. “I find as an artist if I’m not expressed relatively consistently, I get really depressed.”
19. “Partnership is the way. Dictatorial win-lose is so old-school.”
20. “I know that I’m deeply, spiritually, profoundly philosophical and I also know that I’m about the flakiest person you’re gonna meet.”
21. “Only traumatized people want to be famous.”
22. “Part of being famous is offering up this blank screen upon which people can project everything, and it’s a sacred act, putting yourself out there, in a way that lots of celebrities aren’t steeled for; they’re not prepared for the degree to which people define them.”
23. “For me, a life without expectation results in a life with inspiration.”
24. “I think a beautiful quality that’s a biological, hormonal imperative for women, whether they have children or not, is that we’re built to be empathic. For me, it was finally being maternal in an appropriate way instead of trying to mommy ex-boyfriends.”
25. “As a kid, I was listening to Aretha Franklin, Etta James, and hip-hop as well as music my parents were listening to, like Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen.”
26. “Knowing that people make my songs their own is what keeps me going.”
27. “I’d rather talk to people about their personal spiritual practices or what they believe love is. I’m born to do that. Could I enter into the political realm and dive into that? Sure, but I don’t think I would want to do that.”
28. “I guess what people forget sometimes is that when I write songs, I write them sometimes in about 20 minutes.”
29. “With songwriting I spend a lot of time living life, accruing all these experiences, journaling, and then by the time I get to the studio I’m teeming with the drive to write.”
30. “I’m really clear about what my life mission is now. There’s no more depression or lethargy, and I feel like I’ve returned to the athlete I once was. I’m integrating all the parts of me—jock, musician, writer, poet, philosopher—and becoming stronger as a result.”
31. “Over the last couple of years, I’ve really worked toward balancing my life out more, having a little bit more time with friends, family, and my boyfriend. There was a period of time when they were way down the list. It was all about music and touring and if everything fell by the wayside, so be it.”
32. “Beauty is now defined by your bones sticking out of your decolletage. For that to be the standard is really perilous for women.”
33. “I think it’s child abuse to have someone in the public eye too young. Society basically values wealth and fame and power at the cost of well-being. In the case of a child, it’s at the cost of someone’s natural development. It’s already hard enough to develop.”
34. “I was left to painstakingly deal with the aftermath of my avoidance later in life, in therapy or through the lyrics of my songs.”
35. “I think it’s irresponsible when celebrities imply they’re doing it all themselves. My son has aunties and uncles around all the time, and my husband is my hero. He’s really full-on. I couldn’t do it any other way.”
36. “We’re taught to be ashamed of confusion, anger, fear, and sadness, and to me, they’re of equal value to happiness, excitement, and inspiration.”
37. “The person who knows HOW will always have a job. The person who knows WHY will always be his boss.”
38. “Peace of mind for five minutes, that’s what I crave.”
39. “The ego is a fascinating monster.”
40. “I found that the more truthful and vulnerable I was, the more empowering it was for me.”
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