10 Years On, Alanis Unplugs 'Little Pill'
As she neared the 10th anniversary of her landmark album "Jagged Little Pill," Alanis Morissette began pondering how to commemorate the occasion. She ultimately decided to do it all again. Billboard hAs she neared the 10th anniversary of her landmark album "Jagged Little Pill," Alanis Morissette began pondering how to commemorate the occasion. She ultimately decided to do it all again. Billboard has learned that Morissette and the album's producer/co-writer, Glen Ballard, are in the middle of recording an acoustic version of the career-defining set.
"It just sounded much more appealing than creating my own awards show," she says with a laugh. "There's no better way to honor things than through music."
The as-yet-untitled album will come out on June 13 -- exactly 10 years to the day after the original release. It will initially be sold only at Starbucks' 4,500 North American outlets for a six-week exclusive period, after which it will hit traditional retail outlets on July 26.
The collection, which will feature the songs in their original order, will include previously unreleased video footage from that era plus different artwork.
In the decade since its release, "Jagged Little Pill" has sold 30 million copies across the globe, according to her label, Warner Music Group's Maverick Records. In the United States, it has sold 14.4 million units, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The album is the best-selling debut by a female artist and the 14th best-selling album ever in the United States, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.
Starbucks Entertainment president Ken Lombard would not discuss details of the financial arrangement with Maverick or how much the chain will spend marketing the acoustic record.
"We can't put a dollar value in terms of what we invest," Lombard says. "But just as important as our reach of 4,500 stores is the frequency: The core Starbucks customer comes into the store up to 18 times a month. When you think about exposing the artists' music to that base, no other retailer can provide that level of exposure."
"Pill" featured a number of hits, many of which are still in recurrent rotation on adult top 40 stations, including "You Oughta Know," "Hand in My Pocket," "You Learn," "Head Over Feet" and "Ironic."
But perhaps the biggest irony is that Morissette barely remembers the 18 months surrounding the project's peak period. "When the album came out, I feel like I immediately went into survival mode to keep the 'overwhelm' that comes from being famous at bay," she says. "Ten years later, I have the luxury of time and distance to formally honor it."
In fact, that era is so dazzling for Morissette, reality was unrecognizable. "The one vivid memory is of being in the van touring around America and I remember almost willing myself to get back to sleep, to get back to reality. Waking life was a little too overwhelming."
Morissette estimates that she's acoustically worked up 75% of the songs from "Jagged Little Pill" over the years in concert, but she still looks forward to what she can bring to them now.
"My voice has changed over the last 10 years in a way that I'm just loving," she says. "I have access to notes that I never had access to. Even if we were to do the songs arranged the same way as the original, the way I approach them emotionally is different and I bring 10 years of life experience to them."
Ballard stresses that the songs will definitely be recognizable, "they'll just express their DNA slightly differently." He adds, "We're limiting our palate to more acoustic instruments, but there's a great wealth of instruments to try. I have a hurdy gurdy in there. It's fun to explore. My goal is, we make an album that's interesting so that even if someone had never heard the original, they'd still dig it."
Morissette will also tour acoustically behind the album, playing theaters in June and July. "We'll play the album from start to finish," she says, "although we'll probably play around some with the order. We'll also throw in some other songs from the last 10 years." But Morissette adds she is in no way saying goodbye to these songs: "I'll be playing them until I'm dead."
The acoustic project will be followed by a greatest-hits set with at least one new song due by Christmas.
Morissette, who inked a new deal with Maverick in 2001, says she's ready to start a new project. "I have four journals-full at this point and I usually start a new album after two journals-full," she says. "So I'm very pregnant with songs."