Thank U

Album: Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie (1998)
Charted: 5 17

Songfacts®:

  • Alanis Morissette spent well over a year touring and promoting her 1995 album Jagged Little Pill, which burned her out physically and emotionally. For the next year and a half, she took a lot of time off to decompress and re-evaluate. "Thank U" is her reaction to the conflicted feelings she had after achieving success.

    In her VH1 Storytellers appearance, she explained: "I felt that I lived in a culture that told me that I had to consistently and constantly look outside myself to feel this elusive bliss. And I achieved a lot of what society had told me to achieve and I still didn't feel peaceful. I started questioning everything, and I realized that actually everything was an illusion and it was scary for me because everything I had believed in was dissolving in front of me and there was a death of sorts, a really beautiful one ultimately, but at first a very scary one, and so I stopped. I stopped for the first time and I was overcome with a huge sense of compassion for myself first, and then naturally that translated into my feeling and compassion for everyone around me and a huge amount of gratitude that I had never felt before to this extent. And that's why I had to write this song, 'Thank U,' because I had to express how exciting this was and how scary it was and all of these opportunities for us to define who we are."
  • Disillusionment, frailty and silence are among the things and feelings Morissette thanks in this song, but at the top of her list is India, where she spent time in 1997. The trip was enlightening and gave her some of the ideas for this song.
  • The video shows Alanis singing naked in the middle of an empty city street. Her hair covers her breasts and her crotch was digitally obscured to keep it family friendly. A city block had to be shut down to shoot the video. She recalled to Q magazine in 1999: "We were on the streets of downtown LA two nights in a row. It was pretty cold. We had to use a little bit of latex so I wouldn't get arrested because apparently if you're fully naked on the street anywhere in America... jail. Some people would go by and stop, but it was three or four in the morning, so it was quiet. I wanted to express where the song came from which was to be really empowered by being vulnerable and not being apologetic."
  • This was the first single from Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, which was released three years after Morissette's wildly popular Jagged Little Pill. The wait created a lot of demand for new Alanis material and earned the song instant airplay when it was released. In America, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie set the record for most copies sold by a female artist its first week with 460,000, and went on to sell over 3 million.
  • This was nominated for a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal, but lost to "I Will Remember You" by Sarah McLachlan.
  • Morissette wrote and produced this song with her Jagged Little Pill collaborator Glen Ballard, who also played guitar, piano and synthesizer on the track. On the Jagged album, they had a paltry budget but got Benmont Tench of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers to play organ on some songs in exchange for dinner. Benmont returned for Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie (presumably with a more substantial payment), and played on "Thank U."
  • Natalie Merchant also had a very thankful song in 1998: her track "Kind & Generous" repeats "thank you" about 40 times. The following year, Dido showed her gratitude with "Thank You."
  • When asked about the video's concept, Morissette told PopMatters: "Actually, the idea for that video hit me in my shower - I was thinking about the song and its simplicity and its baring itself, and I just thought, 'Wouldn't it be great if I could just walk around New York City or grocery stores in just a symbolism of being naked everywhere I went?.' Less about overt sexuality and more about the symbolism of being really raw and naked and intimate in all these environments where you'd seemingly need protection, like in a subway and those kinds of places. So that hit me in the shower and then we executed it."
  • Weird Al Yankovic sang a spoof called "Fast Food" on his Running With Scissors tour in 1999.
  • This was one of a few songs Jimmy Fallon parodied on a Halloween-themed segment of "Weekend Update" on Saturday Night Live in 1998, in which he's grateful for all the different types of candy he receives while trick-or-treating.
  • This was used in the 2010 comedy The Way, starring Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez.

Comments: 18

  • Violet from United StatesThe song is used perfectly in the Movie “The Way” featuring Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. However the movie is NOT a comedy as referenced above, but rather an inspirational and thought provoking story about walking the Way of St James or Camino de Santiago. A pilgrimage of self discovery and people you meet along the Way.
  • Tricia from UkI really feel for Alanis in this song... I can only imagine, her thought process - she starts her career singing for the joy of it, writes open, honest and cathartic songs, works hard, releases an AMAZING album (Jagged Little Pill - my favourite album EVER!) and becomes a mega-star... which society says should make her super-happy - and maybe it does, at first, but is money and fame all it's cracked up to be? Is all that 'success' truly fulfilling? Is it even about the music any more? Why aren't I happy, now I have all I ever dreamed of, all I worked my guts out for - why isn't it 'enough'? Plagued with self-doubt, she stops... and, over time, goes on a journey - both literally and metaphorically - of self-renewal and discovery, what (and who) is important to her, what she really wants out of life, and that she's actually an ok person! And as she re-discovers the joy and fulfillment she had always found through her music, that being 'happy' all the time is just not possible (or writes great songs!) she just wants to thank the world for showing her that... much as I want to thank Alanis for doing what she does! ????
  • Xuaan from Mumbai, Indiashe is thanking india....coz she found her ineer peace in this country.. and terror made her to reach india... so she thanks terror either.. this song is all about indian belief and buddhism....
  • Avadhut from Pune, IndiaThis song is about my country - Inida. Thank you Alanis.
    Btw, I disagree with Pradeep who comments, "'Thank You India' was actually a sarcasm meaning that India added more to terror". Tracy (Tulsa, OK) correctly explains the reference to India in a comment below.
  • Kamlesh from Bhavnagar, Indiai would advice some people here who made foolish comments ,to visit india & try to find out whatever she said, she is thanking india to help her to understand the ultimate truth of the world, but i dont think anyone would sense it, if anybody intrested to know more bout what she said contact me :- newtapal@yahoo.com
  • Sarah from London, United Kingdomwell i think India doesn't suits this song no offence it's a great country but what've she learned from a place which is so beautiful from the outside and so dreadful from inside i mean may be she has just seen all the beauty but not the beast i don't care whether any one agrees or not but such superstitions like burring little ill kids during eclipse its awful i cant even imagine whatever not all of it is bad but most of it you know "ALL THAT GLITTER IS NOT GOLD"IT'S an al right song magic of her voice may be don't know what Emma Watson liked in it
  • Amanda from Salem, OrFor example: this is my favorite line. Her words do sound off when you first hear them but if you think about it, they make perfect sense. What do people attach to horses heads to keep them walking? Carrots dangling in front of their noises, as they move so do the carrots - they are after the carrot but it keeps them going. In life we have transparent dangling carrots - something always in front of us to keep us going. Something we tie ourselves to so we always have hope and never give up.
  • Amanda from Salem, Or"Thank you" is Alanis' reflection after her visit to India. She came to notice that all these habits she has didn't need to exist. It's a humbling song about growth and gratification, and how easily you can suddenly become aware of yourself and the people around you.

    She thanks India for bringing her to realization with the facts of life; Great fullness, not greed.
  • Rahul from Chennai, Indiayaaaaaaaaay its bout my country......
  • Theresa from Murfreesboro, TnThe video overshadowed the song. Kinda killed her career but I still love her.
  • Tracy from Tulsa, OkNo, she was not making reference to India causing terror. Terror caused her to take notice of the things that were important. This is a Cathartic song, thanking all elements of emotion and happening to molding her into the person she is happily embracing today.
  • Jesse from Haddam, CtThis song is about being thankful for all the bad in the world because it helps us recognize and be thankful for the good.
  • Mindy from Moorpark, CaI heard that she wrote this song after coming out of a deep depression and it was her taking that year off and traveling to India and stuff that helped her move on from her depression, so she is thanking everything that helped her through it, the good and the bad.
  • Theo from Johannesburg, South Africaevery single person in the vid is a very good friend of alanis, hence her 'ease' with her nudity.
  • Pradeep from Kathmandu, OtherAccording to me, this song is a satire on growing terror and arms in the world. When this song was released, India had just concluded its Nuclear Tests and "Thank You India" was actually a sarcasm meaning that India added more to terror. Hence " Thank you terror" and when the world chose to remain silent about it, " thank you, thank you silence" comes in. I might be wrong here, but if she was talking about happiness why would she thank "terror'.
  • Phill from Oakland, CaTo me, this is about being thankful for everything in life that gives perspective, for the ability to look at things in a different way, and for the ability to see things from the other side of the coin. A wonderful song, and a powerful statement against the ways of life that we (as Americans) feel are "right" or "the way it is".
  • Jaime from Melbourne, Australiawhat's ironic is that when alanis toured india in jan2005, she didn't receive good response. ..she even mucked up lyrics under pressure. jaime, melbourne
  • Pavitra from Cape Town, South AfricaTHANK YOU Alanis!!!
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