“Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder (1976)
In 1976, Stevie Wonder released an ambitious double album called Songs in the Key of Life which included a sweet song dedicated to the recent birth of his daughter Aisha Morris. The song opens with the sound of Aisha’s first cry as she was born, and closes with the sound of Wonder bathing her when she was a little older. The album version of the song was over six minutes long, far too long to be released as a single at the time, and Wonder at first objected to shortening it. In the end, he relented because fans loved the song so much and demanded it as a single. The edited version was just over three minutes long.
Songs in the Key of Life was Stevie Wonder’s most successful album and in the view of many observers marks the end of his early “classic” period. As he entered the 1980s he developed a more polished commercial pop sound to continued massive success which continues to this day.
“You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette (1995)
There is no question that Alanis Morissette puts a great deal of thought into her lyrics and the meaning behind them, but don’t expect her to explain them to you. She said in no uncertain terms in a 2008 interview that she will never talk about who inspires her songs because it is a very personal expression of her experiences. That hasn’t stopped people from speculating, of course. One name that comes up a lot is Dave Coulier, the actor and comedian of Full House fame who dated Morissette for a while before her fame took off. He has admitted that some of the lines in the song are uncomfortably familiar, including the line about her calling in the middle of dinner and the “older version” part. Other rumored subjects of the song include NHL hockey star Mike Peluso, actor Matt LeBlanc of Friends and musician Leslie Howe.
Alanis Morissette started off as a dance-pop singer in her native Canada with two albums in the early 90s, where she achieved considerable success. She was dissatisfied with her artistic direction, so she moved to Los Angeles where she wrote the songs that would become Jagged Little Pill, the album that made her an international alt-rock superstar.