When we talk about the album Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morrissette, songs like You Oughta Know, Ironic and Hand In My Pocket, always first comes to mind for most people. And that’s fair enough because they were huge radio hits. But I’m often drawn to the album’s opening track All I Really Want because it sums up to me almost everything that is adventurous, raw and beautiful about this album. At almost five minutes, with its funky grunge guitars and harmonica pulsing through your ears, you’d be excused if you felt emotionally drained at the end of it.
In a weird sort of way, when I’m listening to this song, I picture myself in the presence of an unapologetic Morrissette. She’s trying to measure me up, getting me to lift my game to meet and match her as her intellectual equal. “Do I stress you out?/ My sweater is on backwards and inside out/ And you say, how appropriate/ I don’t like to dissect everything today/ I don’t mean to pick you apart you see/ But I can’t help it.”
But as the song meanders forward you soon realise Morrissette is also obsessively expressing all her wants and desires, but all the while with an eye on the big picture. “Enough about me, let’s talk about you for a minute/ Enough about you, let’s talk about life for a while/ The conflicts, the craziness and the sound of pretenses is falling/ All around, all around.”
In the end, in the swirling angst with everything that is going on in the song, my favourite verse of the song involves one of the best rock song pauses of all time.
When I first heard that unexpected pause, approximately at the 3 minute mark of the song, my heart seriously skipped a beat. At the time it was one of the gutsiest things I had ever heard. Like an inquisitive therapist Morrissette asks, “Why are you so petrified of silence?/ Here can you handle this?”, before everything dramatically goes silent. Then, as abrupt as the silence is, Morrissette voice comes alive again, “Did you think about your bills, you ex, your deadlines/Or when you think you’re going to die?/ Or did you long for the next distraction?”
While many artists sometimes hit and miss with grabbing the listeners attention straight of the bat, not our Alanis Morrisette. All I Really Want is the perfect album opener that will get heads turning and that’s more than you could ever really ask for!