You Learn

Album: Jagged Little Pill (1995)
Charted: 24 6
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Songfacts®:

  • In this song, Morissette points out that everything in life is a learning experience. It's based on the saying "Live and Learn," which is a common way of dealing with negative events and accepting whatever life brings you. Alanis explained on her VH1 Storytellers appearance: "I wrote it during a time that I was very insulated, and had first just moved to LA. I was prepared for perhaps the first time in my life to focus on things that were negative because I was always encouraged to focus on things that were positive, and that things like confusion and depression and those kinds of things were to be hidden or repressed. Having done that for so many years resulted in an explosion of sorts, so writing Jagged Little Pill was that explosion and a lot of things were very subconscious and that's why everything was relatively urgent." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • The lyrics, "Swallow it down, what a jagged little pill" provided the album title. This relates to the saying "a hard pill to swallow," which means dealing with something difficult that must be accepted.
  • Morissette wrote this with Glen Ballard, who produced the album. It was one of the first songs they wrote for Jagged Little Pill.

    "She had the concept from the first chord: 'Swallow it down, such a jagged little pill,'" Ballard told Spotify. "She was in the zone. It came about very quickly."
  • Along with TLC's "Waterfalls," the video for "You Learn" was featured on the pilot episode of VH1's Pop-Up Video. The clip, directed by Liz Friedlander, follows the singer through a random series of adventures throughout New York's meat packing district, from kissing a stranger to getting in a pie fight to facing off against another woman in a boxing ring (played by the casting director).

    At one point, Alanis rides a horse into a gymnasium and crashes a basketball game with one clean shot. VH1's blurbs tell us the horse is named Dolly and the crew had to coax her into the building with carrots. Also, it only took Alanis one take to sink the ball in the hoop. We also learn Alanis isn't really doing backflips throughout the city streets; it's a 15-year-old gymnast wearing a wig.
  • Benmont Tench, who was one of Tom Petty's Heartbreakers, played organ on this track. He did it as a favor for the album's producer, Glen Ballard, who had him come in, listen to the tracks and play on whichever ones he thought he could help. Benmont chose six, including "You Oughta Know" and "Mary Jane."

    Ballard built the track with a Linn 9000 sequencer/drum machine.
  • The cast of Glee sang this on the 2015 episode "Jagged Little Tapestry." It was also used on My Mad Fat Diary in the 2014 episode "Girls" and on Single Parents in the 2018 episode "Sleepover Ready."
  • This was featured in the 2013 comedy-drama As Cool As I Am, starring James Marsden and Claire Danes.
  • Shortly after moving to LA, Morissette was robbed at gunpoint and started suffering from panic attacks over the incident. Writing the songs on the album - especially one about dealing with life's low points - helped her work through the trauma.
  • Morissette told Spotify the "jagged little pill" represents "attempting to take a panacea, something that will make everything OK but is a challenging one to swallow." She felt it was the perfect symbol for the record.
  • Morissette kept all six jackets she wore throughout the video.
  • This isn't Morissette's most famous song, but may very well be her "mission statement song" - the song that best represents what she stands for. Mike Errico, author of Music, Lyrics, and Life, told Songfacts: "I think Alanis was saddled with more than she bargained for. 'You Oughta Know' was her introductory kick in the pants, but the 'Voice of a Generation' crown sat a little crookedly on her head. I felt something approaching mission songwriting in her midtempo hit, 'You Learn.' There's a compassionate message, and a lesson, that I remember feeling glad someone with her reach could convey. As her present Broadway success shows, once a fan connects to an artist's mission, they remain loyal for the long haul."

Comments: 2

  • Kateri from Albany, Nythis song sends a really good message
    it should be #1 on itunes
  • Brian from Vancouver, CanadaI always thought it was you nerd
see more comments

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