Alanis Morissette is putting her past behind her. Once the quintessential angst-ridden '90s female rocker, the Jagged Little Pill singer says she is eager to cast off her former demons and dive headfirst into a new, happier era of her life.
For Alanis, a big step in moving forward was wrapping up her life's previous chapters in the form of a greatest-hits album, The Collection, which hit stores Tuesday. Whittling down a decade's worth of songs wasn't easy for the singer, who called the process both torturous and intuitive. Morissette handpicked 18 tracks, which include material from four of her studio albums (Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, Under Rug Swept, So-Called Chaos and the Grammy-winning Pill), tracks from her MTV "Unplugged" session, and her contributions to the "Dogma," "City of Angels" and "De-Lovely" soundtracks.
As a child, Morissette said, it was her dream to write enough hit songs to put out a best-of collection, and although she'd been approached many times to do so, it wasn't until this year that she felt ready.
"[This past year] wound up turning into a year of acknowledgement and reflection for me, which was also a real challenge because I typically don't stop and look back in that way," the singer said. "But it felt like the perfect year to have all these songs in one place; songs that were recognizable and songs that were personal favorites, these back-pocket secret songs that were never formally released."
Early hits like "Ironic," "Head Over Feet," "You Oughta Know" and "You Learn" all made the cut, as did lesser-known tunes like "Sister Blister" from her Feast on Scraps DVD/EP, "Princes Familiar" from 1999's Unplugged, and "Crazy," a remake of Seal's classic song, which Alanis covered for a Gap commercial.
"I've been a fan of Seal since I was a teenager. I actually met him around Jagged Little Pill time, but I hadn't spoken to him in years, so when I decided to cover his song, I sent him an e-mail letting him know I was honored to do it," she recalled. "It was a song I was obsessed with when I was younger and the main line that says 'You're never going to survive/ Unless you get a little crazy' is one of the simplest, yet most profound statements."
Creating The Collection also allowed the singer/songwriter to reflect on her own growth, not just as a writer, singer and performer. "I feel really proud and charmed by this album," she added. "It's inspired me to move on into this new chapter, while honoring prior ones, and I think the retrospective of looking back has given me a lot of objectivity, not just on songs I did 10 years ago, but on the whole evolution of the last 10 years itself."
Morissette has no doubt encountered her fair share of struggles in the public eye, including a battle with eating disorders during her teen years (see "Alanis Says She's Still Grappling With Self-Image Issues"), and it's those topics that she has unabashedly written about and shared with her fans over the years.
"It's become clear that the only reason I'd continue doing this is because it has become a social act, even an act of service for me," she said. "I can share my personal experience and thereby support people in their personal journey, wherever they may be."
In January, the singer is going to start writing and recording a follow-up to 2004's So-Called Chaos. "I'm going to hit the ground running," she said. "I've been so eager to write the last couple of years, and typically when I write an album, I take it from two journals' worth of material, and I have about five full now, so I'm definitely bursting at the seams."
For now, Morissette is lending her writing and vocal chops to feature films, recently recording the track "Wonderkind" for the soundtrack to "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" and filming a cameo alongside soon-to-be-hubby Ryan Reynolds (see "Alanis Isn't Angry Anymore — She's In Love") in his upcoming comedy "Just Friends." Unfortunately (or fortunately, according to Alanis), the scene ended up on the cutting-room floor.
"His character was going through something at the time that was not working with my being in it," she laughed. "But acting is something I'm definitely sniffing out, and I think over a year or two, it's something I'm up for really committing to."
Track listing for The Collection, according to Maverick Records:
- "Thank U"
- "Head Over Feet"
- "Eight Easy Steps"
- "Princes Familiar"
- "You Learn"
- "Simple Together"
- "You Oughta Know"
- "That I Would Be Good"
- "Sister Blister"
- "Hands Clean"
- "Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)"
- "Hand in My Pocket"