A Song For Saturday: Thank U – Alanis Morissette

This single was Alanis Morissette’s first foray back into the charts after Jagged Little Pill. That album remains a very well-regarded piece of work, and justly so; it’s twenty years old, and now sounds of its time, but the themes it dealt with and the bravery of its lyrics remain significant.

I would guess that that album has made many people, and particularly women, think again about their identity and place. As suggested by the name it’s often an angry album, and you sense that catharsis is achieved through that anger.

A few years on and this single showed us that Alanis had reached some different point, some deeper catharsis. The video famously featured her singing completely naked, with only her hair and some CG blurring to protect her modesty. At the time it felt tacky, and it still does. It was clearly an attempt to visualise the openness and honesty of this song, but it was heavy-handed, detracting rather than enhancing.

The song itself remains revelatory. The nineties were the last decade where sincerity was mainstream; this is possibly the acme of that trend. There were a clutch of similarly heart-on-sleeve female songwriters around at the time, but this is a classic of the genre: the soaring vocal in this track elevates it as much as the crunching, semi-industrial drum track grounds it.

The lyrics are a mixture of painfully open and whimsically obscure. But it’s when you get to the chorus that you are hit by Morissette’s acceptance. It’s a wonderful song that understands the proper purpose of pain:

Thank you India
Thank you terror
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you frailty
Thank you consequence
Thank you, thank you silence

How about me not blaming you for everything
How about me enjoying the moment for once
How about how good it feels to finally forgive you
How about grieving it all one at a time


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