"You Oughta Know" is a song by Alanis Morissette which is an angry message from a scorned ex-girlfriend directed at her former lover. Morissette has said it is about a specific person, but that person has not contacted her, and probably doesn't know it's about him. Morissette claims she will never say who this is about, just as Carly Simon has done with "You're So Vain."
The song was rumored to be about the actor Dave Coulier, who Morissette went out with for a while when she was 16 and he was 31 (hence the line "an older version of me"). Coulier played Joey on the TV show Full House, and is known for his Bullwinkle impression.
In a 2008 interview with the Calgary Herald, Coulier confirmed that this song is about their rocky former relationship. The actor/comedian said that he first heard the track was when he was driving. "I said, 'Wow, this girl is angry.' And then I said, 'Oh man, I think it's Alanis,'" Coulier revealed. "I listened to the song over and over again, and I said, 'I think I have really hurt this person.' I tried to contact her and I finally got a hold of her. And at the same time, the press was calling and saying, 'You want to comment on this song?' I called her and I said, 'Hi. Uh, what do you want me to say?' And she said, 'You can say whatever you want.' We saw each other and hung out for an entire day. And it was beautiful. It was one of those things where it was kind of like, 'We're good.'"
This was Morissette's first release on Madonna's Maverick Records, the only major label that would sign her in the US.
US radio stations played this with different degrees of editing. The offending lines are "Would she go down on you in a theater" and "Are you thinking of me when you f--k her." Some stations played a version which completely eliminated "down" and "f--k," while others left in "down" and only cut a little of "f--k."
This won Grammys for Best Rock Song and Best Female Rock Vocal. Jagged Little Pill also won for Best Rock Album and Album Of The Year. Along with Bruce Springsteen and U2, Morissette became the only artist to win for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Album in the same year. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Morissette performed a slow version of this at the 1996 Grammys. The show was on a 7-second delay so they could bleep out the word "f--k." The Grammy performance was released as the B-side of "You Learn" in 1996.
This was produced and co-written by Glen Ballard, who has also worked with Wilson Phillips and The Dave Matthews Band. Alanis moved to Los Angeles to work with him.
Dave Navarro and Flea from The Red Hot Chili Peppers played on this.
Jagged Little Pill has sold over 16 million copies. A 10-year anniversary acoustic version of the album was released in 2005. It was sold exclusively at Starbucks coffee shops for the first 6 months. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Morissette did not have a record deal in the US when she recorded this. She and Ballard finished it before shopping it to labels so they couldn't interfere with the recording process.
This song gained a lot of exposure when Morissette performed it on the MTV Video Music Awards and on Saturday Night Live.
Morissette started as a dance singer. As a teenager, she was a star in her native Canada.
There is a hidden track at the end of Jagged Little Pill that supposedly describes the day she busted her boyfriend. Just let the CD play after the last song and then you will hear "You Oughta Know" again. After it plays, let it run again and then she starts singing a cappella about the "incident." It is a chilling description of that day. (thanks, Scott - St. Louis, MO)
This song was the basis for an episode of the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm. On the show, Larry David tries to get Alanis to tell him who the song is about.
Beyoncé covered the song during her 2009 I Am... World Tour and performed part of it at the 2010 Grammy Awards.