Love Letter To A Record: Toni And The Stonehearts On Alanis Morissette’s ‘Jagged Little Pill’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Here are their love letters to records that forever changed their lives.

Toni And The Stonehearts’ Toni On Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill

To my comforting confidante, Jagged Little Pill,

I’ll never forget when I first laid eyes on you. There you were in my Dad’s otherwise PG record collection being kept company by Little River Band and the two Johns, Cougar-Mellencamp and Farnham. You were the black sheep. The “Parental Guidance: Explicit Lyrics” sticker was all I needed to know I wanted to steal you away. Little did I realise that from the moment I heard that distorted guitar and harmonica, I would be hooked. You would take pole position in my 5 disc CD-stacker for the next two years and keep popping up for years to come.

I didn’t care that there was a distinct lack of irony in ‘Ironic’, in fact I still don’t. All I saw was your real world charm, a witty way with words and your ability to see straight through my teenage bravado and get right to the heart of my frustrated angst. I cried, I screamed, I played you at full volume whilst singing into my hairbrush and together we worked through some epic shit…or at least it was to me back then.

‘You Oughta Know’ bonded me with my bestie Iva, singing together at the top of our lungs “and every time I scratch my nails down someone else’s back I hope you feel it” while we dissected our latest crush gone wrong and wondered what actually scratching your nails down someone else’s back would feel like. Later in life this would be the track I blasted right after I poured a beer over the head of my cheating boyfriend, in the middle of a full pub. I’m sure it was the mini Alanis on my shoulder that made me do it.

‘Perfect’ had me silenced, lonely and crumpled. Feeling the inner niggling of never being good enough, of always wanting to be more, do better and get it right. I never realised anyone else had ever felt the same until you shed a little comforting light.

‘I See Right Through You’ was the voice of all the solidarity sisters I didn’t have. My army of cheerleaders letting me know that as a woman I could achieve anything. I could rise up and conquer the world no matter how much I felt the odds were stacked against me. I could succeed no matter how many times I was discounted, or how many people told me “stop trying so hard”. No matter how many men “took a long hard look at my ass and then played golf for a while”. I imagined the day when I’d get my revenge on those who had put me down and counted me out. The day that they would “scan the credits for your name and wonder why its not there”.

It took me almost six months to find your hidden track. By chance I’d let the CD play on instead of hitting repeat. The haunting acapella “Your House” had me mesmerised and shook me to the core. Each word put me right in the story, I could see, hear, smell and taste dancing in a strangers shower and laying in their bed. I felt the heartbreak of not being able to let go of a love. If I wasn’t hooked before, I was now a fully fledged fan girl who would never let you go. Thankfully, unlike the beer scenario, no inner Alanis ever urged me to break, enter and stalk a lover. But hey, I’d already lived out every sensation through the eerie story telling of that song.

Jagged Little Pill, I could never part with you. You’re forever in my heart, my memories and my iTunes. Every one of your songs has lived, breathed and grown up with me. I’ve now scratched my nails down someone else’s back, had a big black fly land in my chardonnay (#straya), been sane but overwhelmed all at once and although I still haven’t got it all figured out just yet, I know you’ll be there when I finally do.

With one hand in my pocket and the other giving you a bucket full of love and thank yous,

Toni xoxo

Toni And The Stonehearts’ debut single ‘No Turning Back’ is out now. Alanis Morissette will tour Australia in 2018 for exclusive shows in Melbourne and Sydney.

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