I still vividly remember the moment when I realized that Alanis Morissette's 1995 release, Jagged Little Pill, would be more than just a hit album.
The CD had not been out for long, and Morissette was on a club tour. When she performed the radio darling "You Oughta Know," it seemed as if the hundreds of women in the crowd already had committed every word to memory, robustly singing along.
A young woman in front of me was particularly energized by the song, a blunt retort to a former lover for the emotional wreckage caused by his dalliance with an older woman. The chorus approached, and the woman turned to look directly at me, howling the scathing lyrics, emphatically pointing her finger at my face.
I was thankful I wasn't her ex-boyfriend. Morissette had struck a nerve when she venomously expressed feelings of betrayal, anger and pain.
Morissette released two dance-pop albums in her native Canada before adopting the rock-pop sound of Jagged Little Pill. She's considered the impact that it had on music and lyricism.
"I really do see both sides of it," Morissette said in a recent interview. "From the humility part of me, I think consciousness evolution was going at the rate it was going, and inevitably, whether it was me or someone else, we'd have to take these quantum leaps or these baby leaps forward, and it would have happened without me.
"At the same time, I don't want to avoid what actually wound up happening on a fairly large level ... The thought of me inspiring other artists to be authentic and transparent and vulnerable and authentic in their songs in the way I have been -- that excites me to no end."
This summer Morissette marks the 10th anniversary of Jagged Little Pill by releasing a newly recorded acoustic version, an unusual move. But she wanted to re-visit that period in her life.
"During that time I was very much in survival mode," she said. "I just breezed through that passage, had absolutely no objectivity and just breezed through it onto the next place ... So this was a great opportunity for me to look back on it and honor it."
Morissette, of course, has enjoyed additional success since exploding onto the scene. Her follow-up, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, topped seven million in worldwide sales. 2002's Under Rug Swept and 2004's So-Called Chaos also became platinum-selling hits.
A decade later, Morissette clearly is changed on a personal level. The Morissette on the original Jagged Little Pill expressed youthfulness as she wrestled with romantic struggles, issues of self-image (on "Perfect" and "You Learn") and spirituality ("Forgiven").
Today, Morissette appears far more centered and has found a better balance between her career and personal life. She says much of her contentment, though, is derived from efforts to better herself.
"I think a lot of that has to do with my really developing my sense of spirit," she said. "I really do credit everything from going within, meditating, doing a lot of inner work, and if I could encapsulate it, it really is, for me anyway, about taking personal responsibility for my own well-being as opposed to blaming other people -- which is a rite of passage for a 19-year-old, but doesn't make for a very calm life."
-- Alan Sculley
Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Place, Denver
Tuesday, July 5, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $59.50-$69.50; ticketmaster.com or 520-9090.