Mary Jane

Album: Jagged Little Pill (1995)

Songfacts®:

  • This song is about a woman who is losing her spirit, with Morissette encouraging her to "be selfish" and open up about her problems. "It was my empathy for the feminine, the vulnerable, the self care, particularly for those of us who are service-oriented and generous," she told Spotify. "It was influenced by a friend of mine, just watching how sweet she was to me and to everybody, and then she would go home at night and be really depleted. In my case, I would go home and be really depressed. So I thought something needed to be said about the self care needing to be upped, and the empathy. Being in contact with so many narcissistic people, the two qualities that disappear are curiosity about well being - even just a 'how you doing?' - and empathy. So that song was my way of turning it around and singing to myself in a lot of ways. I would often listen to that song on tour and pretend that woman was singing to me."
  • Rick James made it very clear that his "Mary Jane" was about marijuana, but this one has nothing to do with the drug. Morissette said she "wasn't sophisticated enough to enjoy weed at the time."
  • The Jagged Little Pill album was Morissette's first released outside of Canada, where she had put out two albums as a teen-pop singer. She was just 19 when she came to Los Angeles and started working on the album with producer Glen Ballard, who co-wrote all the tracks. Their partnership was extremely productive - they got did 20 sessions and recorded a full on in every one, 12 of which made the album. For Alanis, working with Ballard was a fresh start with someone who valued her input and encouraged her express herself creatively, something she couldn't find in Canada.
  • This is one of six tracks from the album that Benmont Tench of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers played organ on. Morissette didn't have a record deal when she was making the album, so she had to be thrifty. Tench didn't charge her for his work, which he did in one session - he got a dinner out of it, along with her eternal gratitude.

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