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Alanis Morissette Settles the Whole ‘Ironic’ Thing, Once and For All

Morissette never wanted to release the song, she reveals in the latest episode of Rolling Stone Music Now

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In the latest episode of Rolling Stone Music Now, Alanis Morissette discusses her powerful new album, Such Pretty Forks in the Road, 25 years of Jagged Little Pill, and much more, including a moment when she laughingly addresses years of “shaming” over those dubious examples of irony (a black fly in your Chardonnay?) in her hit song “Ironic.” To hear the entire episode, press play below or download and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Spotify.

In the hit Broadway musical version of Jagged Little Pill (now shuttered indefinitely due to the current health crisis), the show’s characters echo years worth of mockery of the song: “That’s not irony,” one says. “That’s just, like, shitty.” Morissette says Diablo Cody, who wrote the show’s book, “nailed it” in that scene. The songwriter is hopeful that the musical will finally put the topic behind her: “Until the next generation kicks my ass! Until the next onslaught of shaming!”

In any case, Morissette was never particularly attached to “Ironic,” which largely stood apart from the autobiographical narrative of the Jagged Little Pill album. “I didn’t even want it on the record,” she explains. “And I remember a lot of people going, ‘Please please, please.’ So I said, OK. That was one of the first songs we wrote, almost like a demo to get our whistles wet. But people wound up really liking the melody, and I wasn’t that precious about it. And I came to realize later that perhaps I should have been,” she admits, laughing. “Whoops!”

“I guess one of the things that is the scariest for us in terms of our collective shame is being [seen as] stupid or uneducated or ignorant,” Morissette adds. “I can embrace, ‘I’m stupid,’ I can embrace that I’m really brilliant. It just depends on when you catch me!”

Download and subscribe to our weekly podcast, Rolling Stone Music Now, hosted by Brian Hiatt, on iTunes or Spotify (or wherever you get your podcasts), and check out two years’ worth of episodes in the archive, including in-depth, career-spanning interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Halsey, Neil Young, the National, Questlove, Julian Casablancas, Sheryl Crow, Johnny Marr, Scott Weiland, Alice Cooper, Fleetwood Mac, Elvis Costello, Donald Fagen, Phil Collins, Alicia Keys, Stephen Malkmus, Sebastian Bach, Tom Petty, Kelly Clarkson, Pete Townshend, Bob Seger, the Zombies, Gary Clark Jr., and many more — plus dozens of episodes featuring genre-spanning discussions, debates, and explainers with Rolling Stone’s critics and reporters. Tune in every Friday at 1 p.m. ET to hear Rolling Stone Music Now broadcast live from SiriusXM’s studios on Volume, channel 106.