Today is November 9 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you reinvent yourself?” Sometimes translating one dream after another into reality requires a reinvention of the self. As author Curtis Tyrone Jones wrote “Sometimes life requires more of you than you have to give and demands you plunge into the reinvention of yourself if you truly want to live.” One such example of a person who reinvented herself was Canadian American singer Alanis Morissette
In 1991, MCA Records Canada released Morissette's debut album, Alanis, in Canada only. Morissette co-wrote every track on the album with its producer, Leslie Howe. The dance-pop album went platinum, and its first single, "Too Hot", reached the top 20 on the RPM singles chart. Subsequent singles "Walk Away" and "Feel Your Love" reached the top 40.
Morissette's popularity, style of music and appearance, particularly that of her hair, led her to become known as the Debbie Gibson of Canada. During the same period, she was a concert opening act for rapper Vanilla Ice. Morissette was nominated for three 1992 Juno Awards: Most Promising Female Vocalist of the Year (which she won), Single of the Year and Best Dance Recording (both for "Too Hot").
In 1992, Canada’s pop star released her second album, Now Is the Time, a ballad-driven record that featured less glitzy production than Alanis and contained more thoughtful lyrics. The industry considered it a commercial failure since it sold only a little more than half the copies of her first album. With her two-album deal with MCA Records Canada complete, Morissette was left without a major label contract.
During this time the 19-year-old underwent a complete transformation of her image and shed her pop star clothing for a more sophisticated sense of her identity. As Morissette said in a 2015 interview with Howard Stern “when I started to write more autobiographically it was more self led. I wanted to stop being presentational and become more conversational with my music. I wanted to sit across from someone who would engage me in developing my self. That person was Glen Ballard.”
After graduating from high school, Morissette moved from Ottawa to Toronto. Her publisher funded part of her development and when she met producer and songwriter Glen Ballard, he believed in her talent enough to let her use his studio. Morissette and Ballard had an instant connection and began co-writing and experimenting with sounds. The experimentation resulted in an alternative rock album that takes influence from post-grunge and pop rock, and features guitars, keyboards, drum machines, and harmonica.
The lyrics touch upon themes of aggression and unsuccessful relationships, while Ballard introduced a pop sensibility to Morissette's angst. The two wrote and recorded Morissette's first internationally released album, Jagged Little Pill, and by the spring of 1995, she had signed a deal with Maverick Records, the only label to agree to sign Morissette at the time.
Jagged Little Pill was a commercial success, topping the charts in thirteen countries. With sales of over 33 million copies worldwide, it is one of the best-selling albums of all time and made Morissette the first Canadian to achieve double diamond sales. Jagged Little Pill was nominated for nine Grammy Awards, winning five, including Album of the Year, making the 21-year-old Morissette, at the time, the youngest artist to win the top honor. Rolling Stone ranked Jagged Little Pill number 327 on its 2003 list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". In the updated 2020 version, the album has been placed at number 69.
Despite her fame and fortune attributed to her music career, it is important to note the depths of the chaos Morissette had to navigate on a personal level. She needed to reinvent herself to overcome one obstacle after another.
For example, throughout her teen years and 20s, Morissette suffered from depression and various eating disorders. She recovered from them and started to eat a healthier diet. In 2009, she ran a marathon promoting awareness for the National Eating Disorders Association. Over a period of seven years, Morissette's business manager Jonathan Schwartz stole over $5 million from her. He admitted his guilt in April 2017 and was sentenced to six years in prison. On October 22, 2019, Morissette shared her nearly decade-long experience with postpartum depression on CBS This Morning.
Morissette learned to navigate the chaos by engaging in a process of reinventing her self when it was necessary for her to grow and move forward. How often do you reinvent yourself?