Jeff, thank you so much for reminding me! How could I forget about Alanis Morissette’s song “Ironic,” one of my favorite songs when I was in middle school?
I absolutely adored Alanis Morissette when I was in the sixth and seventh grades. That was around 1996, when Jagged Little Pill was topping the charts. Everyone in my school was listening to Alanis.
(Side note: Wow, now I’m thinking about all the other music I loved back then: Hootie and the Blowfish, Oasis, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and especially COOLIO! I couldn’t get enough of “Gangsta’s Paradise.”)
I remember sitting in a van with several fellow students in Atlanta, Georgia, when one of the boys said, “The thing about ‘Ironic’ is that it’s not ironic; it’s just bad stuff that happens to you.”
At the time, I spent more time observing that we always remember the bad things in life more than the good things. “It’s like rain on your wedding day,” sang Alanis. Yes, it’s too bad that it’s raining on your wedding day, especially if you had planned a lavish outdoor reception, but isn’t it wonderful that you just got married?
Here are some of the lyrics:
Traffic jam when you’re already late
A “No Smoking” sign on your cigarette break
It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife
It’s meeting the man of my dreams, then meeting his beautiful wife
It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
And who would’ve thought? It figures
This is a bit tough. At first glance, I see these lyrics as a juxtaposition of good and bad things than examples of irony. That juxtaposition doesn’t seem to be enough.
However, if some sentences are tweaked slightly, they make good examples of irony.
–“The T was running for free all evening following the fireworks. Ironically, I had filled my CharlieCard in advance, expecting to pay both ways, so I was unable to take full advantage of the free transportation.”
–“The only item I needed was a knife to cut the cake. Ironically, I couldn’t have asked for more spoons; there were enough for an army!”
What do you think?