Tuesday, June 10, 2008

More thoughts on Alanis from the anal-retentive songwriter

At some point I'll have to check out some clips from Flavors of Entanglement to see if it's worth buying. The whole 12-songs-in-12-days thing intrigues me almost enough to buy it sight unseen (sound unheard?). But then I remember one of the reasons I haven't been picking up Alanis Morissette albums since the first one.

Following Jagged Little Pill, AM honed a songwriting style in which rhyming and scanning were optional. For the uninitiated, scanning means lining up your lyrics with your music so that the right syllables are emphasized. For instance, from "You Oughta Know":
And EV'ry time you SPEAK her name
Does she KNOW how you TOLD me you'd HOLD me
UnTIL you died, till YOU died
But YOU'RE still aLIVE
See how the emphasized syllables fall on the emphasized beats?

Now, here's an excerpt from "Thank U":
Thank you INdia
Thank you TERror
(So far so good.)
Thank you disILluSIONment
(Still kinda works.)
Thank you FRAILty
Thank you CONsequence
Thank YOU thank YOU siLENCE
(Yeah, "siLENCE" is where she loses me.)

Occasionally AM uses unscanning to good effect. I thought it worked well for "Hands Clean." And as far as that goes, a whole lot of people like her just fine and couldn't care less about this issue. I'm probably being too anal-retentive for my own good. But since I bummed out some slower-moving creative types with my last post, I feel I should point out that songwriting probably goes a lot quicker when you don't have to worry about making the words and music fit together in some meaningful way.

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