If I had not been forced to retire from teaching due to my chronic back pain disability, I would be finishing my 24th year in teaching this spring, after spending eight years working in a few hospital labs. That fact is crazy to me. The kids that were in my first freshmen biology classes are now in their late thirties and battling many of the same battles with their children that I was going through with mine while I was teaching them the importance of vaccines and dissection. Artists who were important to those kids were Tupac, Biggie Smalls, Weezer, Oasis, The Offspring, Mariah Carey, among one-hit wonders like Tag Team. But, the girls I had in class and on my cross country team really got into Alanis Morissette the following year. Everywhere I turned, there was another angry young lady singing “You Oughta Know,” though I was truly terrified of them living out some of those lyrics. Lord knows I had enough pregnant girls in my classes at that school.
Regardless of what your feelings are, Alanis Morissette has to get major consideration for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame during 2020. I know this is early for her, but with the emphasis on getting women in the Hall, we need to be looking ahead. I get it that there are hundreds of women, such as Pat Benatar, Tina Turner, The Runaways, Carole King, L7, etc., who all should be enshrined, but I feel like we need to be keeping our eyes on upcoming artists who will be eligible soon. And, in 1995, Alanis Morissette released a truly landmark album in 1995 with her classic Jagged Little Pill. That album sold as many albums as Hootie & the Blowfish, or probably more, yet few really want to give Morissette more credit than Hootie. Seriously, she took the anger of Liz Phair and brought it to the mainstream and is there anything wrong with that? At least teenage girls at the time could use Morissette as an entry into the worlds of Babes in Toyland, L7, Liz Phair, Jewel, Sheryl Crow and a slew of other terrific female rockers of the Nineties. Then, those same budding ladies could reach back for Tina Turner, The Go-Go’s and The Bangles, among others, to find their places in the rock world.
As a matter of fact, I found much of the music of the Nineties something of a turning point in rock history. Finally, with the success of Alanis’ brilliant album, it opened up a generation to strong feminine voices from which their influences would be equally as strong with future male rockers as the male artists of that decade. Let’s face it, Alanis has had more influence that Limp Bizkit, which turned out to be a fad. Remember that Alanis made it possible for the Lilith Fairs that came in her aftermath. If it wasn’t for the success of Jagged Little Pill, would people have been ready for Lauryn Hill’s fantastic genre-hopping album of 1999, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill? And, Lauryn Hill begat the Lolitas of the turn-of-the-century like Britney, Christina, Kelly and the like, who begat the hundreds of women who are creating terrific music today, such as the feminine spirit of Prince inhabiting H.E.R.
To me, Jagged Little Pill is a landmark album, plain and simple. Then, you step back and analyze it for its societal significance, and you notice that, hell, this young lady opened the floodgates of some sort of artistic integrity equal rights statement. For crying out loud, Generation X and Millennials understand that rock music, in ANY form, is NOT the birth right of men only! Women rock as hard or harder than men. And, we have Alanis Morissette to thank for finally opening Baby Boomers to that fact.
I am not advocating some sort of affirmative action situation for the Hall, but something has got to give! Women, Latinos, African-Americans and foreign artists are underrepresented in the Hall. Los Lobos, The Spinners, Chaka Khan, War, Cypress Hill, The Crystals, The Shangri-La’s, Kraftwerk, The Smiths and so many others are being left behind due to this whole Classic Rock kick we are in the middle of right now. But, when women represent only 7% of the inductees into the Hall, we have a major problem. It’s time to be cognizant of whom we are inducting.