Nearly 20 years ago, Alanis Morissette got famous with an incredible alternative rock song called “You Oughta Know.”
If you are in your 30s, you have probably heard it, had it dedicated to you, or imagined yourself singing it to someone else.
But that classic song was a fluke. That’s because that song is not Alanis.
That mean, angry, crazy woman hell-bent on hurting the man who left her is not Alanis. It may have been for two years in the mid 1990s, when she was raking in hundreds of millions of dollars touring for two straight years, but that angry woman is long gone, thankfully.
For the last 15 years she’s been someone else, entirely. She’s been happy, full of positive energy, and an empowerer.
But not really for women.
Morissette has spent the majority of her career exulting, praising and uplifting men. She makes men feel good about themselves. And thank God she’s back.
She quietly released her new single, “Guardian” a few weeks ago, from her new album, Havoc and Bright Lights. She’s already performed “Guardian” on Ellen and Dancing with the Stars.
And my unattainable-celebrity-lift-me-up-fantasy-wife has gotten me feeling the chills, and more importantly, feeling like I matter, all over again.
Alanis’ new song has a powerful guitar-based chorus that resembles a Christian worship song. I don’t know if she’s been doing it intentionally, but she’s being going in this direction for several albums. I have heard a lot of Christian worship songs in my life, and “Guardian” is the kind of song that would have worshippers raising their hands, eyes closed, with tears streaming down their eyes.
The lyrics to the chorus are incredible:
“I’ll be your keeper for life as your guardian
I’ll be your warrior of care your first warden
I’ll be your angel on call, I’ll be on demand
The greatest honor of all, as your guardian.”
Morissette has dabbled in this type of empowerment-rock before. Her song “Surrendering” from Under Rug Swept is naked in its humility and adoration of her partner. Like most of Alanis’ songs, she plays multiple roles within it. The “surrendering” doesn’t refer to her. It refers to how impressed she is with her partner’s ability to surrender and trust her, even though she’s hurt him and even though he’s been hurt by others before.
“I salute you for your courage,
and I commend you for your wisdom
and I embrace you for your faith in the face of
adversarial forces that I represent.”
On her album “Flavors of Entanglement,” Morissette drops all subtlety and just says it flat out with “In Praise of a Vulnerable Man.”
“You are the greatest man I’ve ever met
You are the stealth setter of new precedents
And I vow and I vow to be true
And I vow and I vow to not take advantage.”
In “No Pressure over Cappuccino,” a song she performed live but never on a studio album, she readily admits and accepts the dysfunctional man.
“And you’re like a nineties Noah.
And they laughed at you as you packed all of your things.
And they wonder why you’re frustrated,
and they wonder why you’re so angry.
And is it just me, or are you fed up?
And god bless you in your travels,
in your conquests and queries.”
Morissette said in an interview that Guardian (http://www.alanis.com/2012/05/15/alanis-inspiration-for-guardian/) was about herself and her inner child and her relationships, and her outer child, Ever, to whom she gave birth last year.
The greatest thing about Alanis’ music is the complexity of her lyrics and how her songs mean different things to different people depending on your own experience.
It’s amazing how far a woman can get with a man through some positive encouragement and uplifting praise. Morissette for years has shown that the way to a man’s heart is not in pointing out his flaws, but accepting them, and praising the strengths.
It seems like a simple formula, but it’s unfortunately not.
Morissette’s music does what great Christian worship also does. She uplifts me, makes me feel good about mysef, yet humbles me at the same time. She offers me hope and purpose and meaning and forgiveness, and ultimately, accepts me, even for my sins and my flaws. And she lives all in my head and heart only, right where she should be.
(And don’t get me started on that long, black hair.)
Top 10 Alanis male-empowerment songs:
- In Praise of a Vulnerable Man
- No Pressure Over Cappuccino
- You Owe Me Nothing in Return
- Princes Familiar
- This Grudge
- Head Over Feet
- A Man
- The Couch
- Thank You
Heart of the House from “Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie” is a slow, uplifting ballad that celebrates the mother-child relationship.