Alanis Morissette Recalls Being Robbed Night Before Meeting Madonna

Alanis Morissette will dig deep into her life and career for Alanis Morissette: Words + Music, a special audio performance presented by Audible. Ahead of its October 22nd premiere, listen to two exclusive clips from the storytelling event.

In the first clip, the Canadian singer-songwriter recalls the tumultuous very early days of her life in Los Angeles. The night before she met Madonna — who signed the as-yet-unknown artist to her label Maverick Records in the early Nineties — Morissette was held up at gunpoint. Her backpack was full of material that would soon change her life: the lyrics for her breakthrough hit “You Oughta Know” as well as some cassettes. Luckily, the robber only made it off with the small amount of cash she had on hand. “I was pretty close to having to start the record all over again,” she says with good humor now.

Morissette also recalls how “generous” Madonna was as a mentor who offered advice and support when the young artist needed it most. “On some levels, I thought, ‘I kinda want to dive into this and see what happens,’” she says of wanting to go her own route. “I didn’t imagine there had to be some preordained or predestined path I had to follow as such.”

In a second clip, Morissette digs into the layers that make “You Oughta Know” — the lead single off her 1995 LP Jagged Little Pill — so potent. She applauds the “top layer” of raw anger, the same type of anger that she sees in her children now. “They have this beautiful, beautiful anger that courses through their little bodies. Maybe we don’t throw the iPad at someone’s face, maybe we go over here and punch a pillow. I don’t want to dissuade them from taking responsibility or feeling their feelings all the way through because they’ll haunt us if you don’t, at the end of the day.”

Morissette also explains that “You Oughta Know” is less a revenge song and more a “revenge fantasy,” admonishing the “physical revenge” that it can often manifest as. It took only 10 minutes for her to write the song originally, an average amount of time for her still. The clip wraps with Morissette singing a bit of the track acoustically. 

Morissette joins a stellar roster of artists who have similarly shared their stories through Audible’s Words + Music series. Previous specials have been performed by James Taylor, Patti Smith, St. Vincent, and Sheryl Crow. Upcoming artists to be featured in the series include Smokey Robinson and Rufus Wainwright.