Smiling

Album: Such Pretty Forks In The Road (2020)
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Songfacts®:

  • "Smiling" is about feeling crushed by the demands of daily life. In it, Morissette sings about feeling like a failure but smiling through it all, hiding her pain and self-loathing. She's so lost in her own existence that she doesn't even remember anymore where her feelings of inadequacy come from.

    And this, my loose recollection of a falling
    I barely remember who I failed
    I was just trying to keep it together


    Outwardly, she keeps smiling and puts on a brave face for the world, but inwardly she's starting to crack up.

    This is my first wave of the white flag
    This is the sound of me hitting bottom
    This my surrender, if that's what I call it
    In the anatomy of my crash
  • The feelings in this song are autobiographical but are told through a fictionalized lens. "Smiling" was written to be included on a Broadway adaptation of Morissette's 1995 smash hit album Jagged Little Pill. That musical tells the story of a crumbling suburban mother named Mary Jane Healy. In "Smiling," a pharmacy has just denied Healy her pain medication, forcing Healy to acquire drugs off the street.

    Morissette herself has admitted to problems with addiction with things ranging from work to food to alcohol. Singing through Healy's character, she's still discussing feelings of which she's intimately aware.
  • Michael Farrell co-wrote this song with Morissette. He has worked in various capacities with Boy George, Sarah McLachlan, Macy Gray, Morrissey, and many other notable musicians. He does a lot of work in television, as well. His credits include American Idol, America's Got Talent, The Four, and Hollywood Game Night.
  • The title for Such Pretty Forks In The Road is taken from a line in "Smiling":

    And I keep on smiling
    Keep on moving
    Can't stand still
    Such pretty forks in the road
  • This was the second single released for Such Pretty Forks in the Road, following "Reasons I Drink."

    A literal fork in a road is the place where a road branches off into two different directions. In the metaphorical sense (which is how Morissette uses it in this song), a fork in a road is a place in a person's life where an unavoidable decision leads to two radically different outcomes. No matter which choice the person makes, it's going to take them on a transformational course, either positive or negative.

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