IF for no other reason, Meredith Brooks differs from Alanis Morissette inasmuch as…
”Oh, my God!” Brooks protests, upon hearing the dreaded A-word. ”I can’t believe you would bring that up! What a surprise. Damn.” Sulking, she turns around in her dressing-room chair at a Hollywood photo studio and faces the wall. ”I thought we were gonna get through the whole interview without that.”
Jeez, what a, um…bitch?
Nah. This pouty party is just an act on the part of the otherwise gregariously friendly 31-year-old, who’ll even allow that she feels flattered, if properly baffled, by the comparison. And, as we were saying, she isn’t much into Morissette-ian indignation, righteous or otherwise. ”I laugh about this Alanis thing, because all along I was thinking I’m gonna get compared to Sheryl [Crow],” she admits. Titles lie: Though the name of her smash single is ”Bitch,” Brooks spends most of her upbeat Blurring the Edges album — and the rest of that not-so-terribly petulant hit song — trying not to be one.
”I’m intense, but I do tend to wake up in a good mood pretty much every day,” she confesses. The song that’s ”probably the best example of the way I really think,” she says, is ”Pollyanne,” a manifesto of positivity in the face of a dismissively cynical partner.
Brooks isn’t unduly Pollyanna-ish about the music industry. After leading a series of bands in her native Oregon, the singer-guitarist got a break when she moved to L.A. to join the Graces, Charlotte Caffey’s post-Go-Go’s glamour-girl group, which released one unlamented 1989 album. ”Charlotte was coming from a very tough experience, and I was fresh off the pumpkin truck — ‘I’m gonna be a rock star! Yeah!’ So that was the struggle, I think, between us: I was just a little too happy to be there,” she laughs.
Wised up by the time the Graces broke up in 1991, Brooks found salvation in the downtime diving into personal-growth territory — joining a weekly women’s group, taking up charitable work, and aligning herself with spiritually inclined psychologist types. Though Brooks flinches at the term New Age, she ranks Marianne Williamson alongside Chrissie Hynde on her heroines’ list. Even ”Bitch” is intended as a celebration of Everywoman’s multiple psyches, not a riot grrrl’s license to kill.
”I do not mean that it gives you permission to annihilate verbally. It simply means that when we don’t honor every mood we’re in, we move away from it and don’t notice what’s really going on with us….I think most people get the point that it’s not about bitch — it’s ‘I’m a bitch, I’m a mother, I’m a child, I’m a lover,’ I’m all these things.” Though perhaps only someone with such great cheekbones could get away with making mood swings sound sexy, Brooks’ anthem has inter-gender appeal. ”Men completely get it and are so relieved that somebody’s saying it; all they want us to do is admit that we can be irrational and illogical sometimes, and then it’s their job to put up with it,” she laughs. ”They’ve got their faults, men — I won’t list them — and we put up with that.”
Oh, go ahead, list ’em.
”Ohhhhh, no, you’re not gonna get me there.” That might sound, well, you know.