All I Really Want

Album: Jagged Little Pill (1995)
Charted: 59 65
Play Video


  • In the opening track from Jagged Little Pill, a frustrated Morissette is in the midst of an argument with her significant other who refuses to engage in the "intellectual intercourse" she desperately wants, preferring to distract himself from the problems in his life rather than face them. The singer is aware of her own shortcomings, and compares herself to Estella, the cold and critical socialite who captures the protagonist's heart in the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations. "I'm like Estella," she sings in the second verse. "I like to reel it in and then spit it out, I'm frustrated by your apathy."
  • Morissette was just 20 years old when she wrote this song with her producer, Glen Ballard, in January 1995. It was the last song they wrote for the album.

    As a teenage pop singer, Alanis released two albums in her native Canada, neither of which expressed the complex emotions she was dealing with. Ballard was the first producer she found that wanted her to lead the way creatively. He was 40 when they met, and quite accomplished, having produced the first Wilson Phillips album in 1990. By the time he wrote "All I Really Want" with Morissette, they had developed tremendous creative chemistry and she was taking the lead on lyrics. Speaking about the song for a Spotify Landmark edition of the album, he said: "I went to an Indian modality. She had this feral sound in her voice and it really communicated the lyrics. It was like a hunger for the right king of connection. She was looking for justice and communication. Five months after we wrote this, she would emerge as one of the more charismatic and powerful women on the planet, but on this day in January of 1995 she was quite fragile and pale, and she's never been more beautiful."
  • Morissette didn't have a record deal yet when she was putting the album together and it didn't look like she was going to get one, having been turned down by every major record company. Until she was summoned by Madonna's new Maverick label at an inopportune moment. "I was in the studio writing 'All I Really Want' with Glen in my sweatpants and we got a call from Ken Hertz, who was a partner of one of the lawyers I was working with," Morissette recalled to CBC Music. "He said, 'You've gotta come with me right now, meet me at Maverick.' And I said, "I can't, I'm wearing my sweatpants.' And he said, 'Too bad, I don't care, get in the car.' So Glen and I were laughing and we just got in the car and I was like all right, well this is zero presentation, I'm not coming in with my stilettos and my special makeup or anything."

    No one cared about the sweatpants. After auditioning with "Perfect," "You Oughta Know," and "Hand In My Pocket," for an astounded Guy Oseary - who went on to manage Madonna and U2 - she signed on the dotted line with Maverick.
  • In order to boost album sales, the single wasn't available for purchase in America, which made it ineligible for the Hot 100, but the song peaked at #65 on the Airplay chart and #14 on the Modern Rock chart.
  • The line, "My sweater is on backwards and inside out," is true to what she was wearing when she wrote the song. It was cold day, and when she walked into the studio, Glen Ballard commented on her inside-out sweater. She used that as a starter and was off and running with the lyric.


Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Did They Really Sing In That Movie?

Did They Really Sing In That Movie?Fact or Fiction

Bradley Cooper, Michael J. Fox, Rami Malek, Reese Witherspoon, Gwyneth Paltrow and George Clooney: Which actors really sang in their movies?

Booker T. Jones

Booker T. JonesSongwriter Interviews

The Stax legend on how he cooked up "Green Onions," the first time he and Otis Redding saw hippies, and if he'll ever play a digital organ.

Penny Ford of Snap!

Penny Ford of Snap!Songwriter Interviews

The original voice of Snap! this story is filled with angry drag queens, video impersonators and Chaka Khan.

Joe Elliott of Def Leppard

Joe Elliott of Def LeppardSongwriter Interviews

The Def Leppard frontman talks about their "lamentable" hit he never thought of as a single, and why he's juiced by his Mott The Hoople cover band.

Director Mark Pellington ("Jeremy," "Best Of You")

Director Mark Pellington ("Jeremy," "Best Of You")Song Writing

Director Mark Pellington on Pearl Jam's "Jeremy," and music videos he made for U2, Jon Bon Jovi and Imagine Dragons.

Chris Rea

Chris ReaSongwriter Interviews

It took him seven years to recover from his American hit "Fool (If You Think It's Over)," but Chris Rea became one of the top singer-songwriters in his native UK.