Songwriters: Alanis Morissette, Michael Farrell; Producer: Alex Hope
Humanity’s selfish side showed itself through a wave of toilet paper and disinfectant hoarding, too. I made the mistake of doing grocery shopping, appropriately on Friday the 13th, and people were running into me with grocery carts, and reach-grabbing food in the aisles as if it were the end of days.
I definitely needed Alanis Morissette’s intellectual energy on my playlists.
The Ottawa-born singer-songwriter has been a favourite of mine since her 1991 video for “Too Hot” was first shown on CBC TV’s Video Hits. (I’m old. And yes, the song charted in my personal top 10 in 1991, too.)
Such pretty forks in the roadAlanis Morissette, “Smiling”
On this continuum I’ve been bouncing
Life flashing promise before my eyes
Morissette has been on my mind in recent years. As I began to research into giftedness special education, I coincidentally ended up in her old high school, and when there, I considered her prodigious talent and rise to super-stardom. She definitely fits the profile of a gifted learner, with all of our kind’s intense intellectual and emotional intelligence.
Her songs often reflect a mind running deep with feeling, constantly wrestling with meaning, and sometimes tortured by her own contronymical thinking. Later in Morissette’s career, her lyrics grew dense with the language of psychoanalysis and the need to express her conceptualizations of spirituality.
“Smiling” definitely fits this later-era conception of Morissette as it’s full of psychoanalytic wordplay. For instance, interpretations of the word “surrendering” are played with multiple times in the pre-chorus: “…if that’s what you call it… if that’s what I call it… if I can bear it.” Because of this, even though the song was written for the Broadway rock musical based on her seminal 1995 album Jagged Little Pill, the song more nostalgically recalls her follow-up, 1998’s Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie (and especially the melodies of “Joining You” from that album).