Earlier this year, Alanis Morissette’s massively successful American debut Jagged Little Pill celebrated its 20th birthday, and that milestone will be properly celebrated at the end of October with the arrival of Jagged Little Pill: Collector’s Edition. The deluxe version features four discs: a remastered version of the original album, a copy of Jagged Little Pill: Acoustic, a full-length concert from Morissette’s UK debut with her crack band (which included future Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins), and a disc of demos from the Glen Ballard-assisted writing and recording sessions that yielded Pill.
The disc of demos is the collection’s most fascinating artifact, as it further illuminates the process that Morissette and Ballard went through to create Jagged Little Pill as explained the oral history found in the current issue of EW. According to Morissette and Ballard, every single song on Pill was crafted in a day: The pair would write in the morning, work out parts in the afternoon, and have a vocal track recorded before everybody went home for the night. “It would hurtle through us really quickly,” says Morissette. “At night, when we finished, we’d just be chest-bumping.”
For Morissette, the sessions were essentially broken up into two halves. “We’d written maybe five songs. Then we wrote ‘Ironic,’ and ‘Ironic’ kind of marked the end of the initial get-to-know-each-other demo writing and the real record,” says Morissette. “The songs before then were written with Glen throwing lyrics out. But after ‘Ironic’ it became me telling stories. I think Glen, to his credit, was like ‘You got this.’ I had written with people in the past who didn’t want me to write lyrics, so there was a part of me that knew I was a lyricist. Once we started getting into the hyper-autobiographical, it just became that way.”
The demos included on Jagged Little Pill: Collector’s Edition include the first song Morissette and Ballard ever wrote together, which they put on tape the day they met. “It was March 8, 1994,” explains Ballard. “She was smiling, kind of mystical, and just completely alive. I felt this really alive presence with her. I didn’t really know what she had done, and she didn’t really want to play me anything. So we just had a good conversation. I was much older, but she felt like a younger sister to me. So we wrote a song. I usually write on the piano, but I pulled out the acoustic guitar and I said, ‘You ever been to a club called the Bottom Line in New York?’ She hadn’t, so I gave her a little history of the Bottom Line and how all these great artists worked there. And I said, ‘Let’s write a song about the metaphorical bottom line and the real Bottom Line. I immediately could see she was conceptual in the way she approached it. So we wrote this song called ‘The Bottom Line,’ and [the chorus] was, ‘Meet me down at the Bottom Line.’ I made the track right there with her. We demoed it, and by 10 o’clock that night she sang it and she went home.”
Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill: Collector’s Edition arrives on Oct. 30 and is available for pre-order now. For more on the incredible story of the album’s birth, pick up the current issue of Entertainment Weekly for the comprehensive oral history.