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#ThrowbackThursday: “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette

Alanis Morissettes “You Oughta Know” Maverick Records

By Sean Smith

Alanis Morissette’s breakthrough album Jagged Little Pill is about to get a second life. This time on stage.

The album that made Alanis Morissette an international star is being developed into a musical. The show is being produced by Tony-winning director Diane Paulus who will be overseeing the run of the show at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she also serves as the artistic director. The show will be based on the book being written by Diablo Cody, who we know from her previous work on Juno. The musical’s score will be handled by Pulitzer Prize winner Tom Kitt, who put together the orchestration for the Green Day inspired musical American Idiot.

The musical will premiere at the American Repertory Theater in May of 2018.

In a recent statement, Alanis Morissette had the following to say about the coming together of the musical adaptation of her album Jagged Little Pill, which has been in the works since 2014.

“This team that has come together for this Jagged Little Pill musical is my musical theater dream come true. The chemistry between all of us is crackling and I feel honored to be diving into these songs again, surrounded by all of this searing talent. Diablo and Diane are already taking these deeply personal songs that are part of my soul’s marrow to a whole other level of hope, freedom, and complexity.”

There were a number of notable songs released by Morissette off of Jagged Little Pill. There was of course “Ironic,” with lyrics that were anything but. There were the radio hits “One Hand in my Pocket,” “You Learn,” and “Head over Feet.” However, in this week’s edition of #tbt here on Clizbeats, we are going to look back on the lead single to that album “You Oughta Know.”

When Alanis Morissette released Jagged Little Pill on June 13, 1995, it was a departure from the two previous albums that the Canadian singer had released up to that point. Her first two records, which received more airplay in Canada than the United States, were more pop driven efforts. Her debut album Alanis had a pop dance sound to it, while her follow up to her debut Now is the Time was still pop in nature, but was more focused on pop ballads than dance tracks. The new sound offered up by Morissette in 1995 was more of an edgy rock sound. No where on the record is this more evident than on the lead single “You Oughta Know.”

The story being told on this song is one of a scorned ex-girlfriend talking to their former partner. It includes some edgy and profane lyrics which required edits to be played on the radio. Those specific lyrics are “Would she go down on you in a theater” and “Are you thinking of me when you f–k her.” Despite the need for a radio edit of the song for radio airplay, the track slowly climbed the charts. It reached as high as the sixth spot on the mainstream Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also netted Morissette two Grammy awards in 1996. One for Best Rock Song and another for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.

The lyrics to “You Oughta Know” were co-written by Morissette and Glen Ballard. The music however, was written after the lyrics and Morissette and Ballard got some notable help putting a melody to their words. The score for the track was done by Dave Navarro, of Jane’s Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The two also lent their talents for the recording of the track for the album.

Although Alanis Morissette has refused to disclose who she was writing about as the inspiration for this song, a number of rumors have persisted through the years. The most common being that she wrote “You Oughta Know” about her real life break-up with actor/comedian Dave Coulier, who is most notable for his role as Joey Gladstone from the 1990’s ABC sitcom Full House.

So with a musical adaptation of Alanis Morissette’s 1995 album Jagged Little Pill preparing to hit the theater stage in May of next year, this week we take a moment to remember her 1995 hit song “You Oughta Know.” Enjoy.

Alanis Morissette

“You Oughta Know”

Maverick  Records