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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Jann Arden and her "Insensitive" Success Story

You know, when I was choosing topics for this weekend, it was really not my intention to have all three topics for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday be Canadian themed. And, yet, that is exactly what has happened.

And, it's not even July the first!!!

Truth be told, I am very proud of my Canadian heritage. I'd love to say that I want to visit many countries in the world, but I can't see myself living anywhere else other than Canada. I think that's why whenever I have the opportunity to talk about a Canadian subject in this blog, I take full advantage because I love the country of my birth so much.

Even if the opportunity came up to relocate to another country, I would still find a way to keep my Canadian background alive, whether it be wearing a toque wherever I go, to introducing locals to the delicacy known as the poutine.

(That's french fries, cheese curd, and gravy, for those of you who don't know what a poutine is.)

Anyway, today's blog topic deals with a Canadian artist who has had quite the career for herself. Since her debut album was released in 1993, she has racked up seventeen Top 10 singles in Canada, won eight Juno Awards, earned a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in 2006, and was inducted into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2007.

But although she has had much success in her native Canada, she didn't have that much luck in the United States. The only single release that ended up making the Top 20 was this single, which hit the charts in 1995.

ARTIST: Jann Arden
SONG: Insensitive
ALBUM: Living Under June
DATE RELEASED: August 10, 1994

NOTE #1: I couldn't find the actual release date for “Insensitive”, so I opted to use the release date for the album instead. In the United States, it was released in late 1995.

NOTE #2: Although the song peaked at #12 in the United States, it became a #1 hit for Arden, as well as her most recognized song.

Now, here's the deal with Jann Arden. The song “Insensitive” is a rarity for her, in that it is one of the few songs she did NOT write herself.

The story goes like this. At the time, Jann Arden was based out of Calgary, Alberta, Canada (she was born in Springbank, Alberta almost fifty-one years ago, on March 27, 1962), and she went to a club where a woman named Anne Loree was performing. One of the songs she was singing that night was a song she penned in the aftermath of an unhappy fling with the chef of the restaurant that she worked at as a waitress. The way that Anne Loree described the songwriting process can be found on her official website (

I sat down at my electric piano in the basement of a rented house I shared with four roommates, broke and broken hearted, full of pain and angst, and wrote 'Insensitive'. It took me probably less than half an hour and I walked away feeling much better for it and much hipper to Prince Charmings who aren't really into you.”

Probably one of the most candid, yet brilliant explanations of what a song is about if ever I heard one. No wonder Jann Arden fell in love with the song, and asked Loree if she could sing her own version on her upcoming sophomore album, “Living Under June”. Loree gave her blessing, and the song was the second release from the album following “Could I Be Your Girl”.

The song was wildly successful in Canada, peaking at #1 in January 1995, but it took some time for the song to chart stateside. Part of the reason why the song was so successful was because it was included in the soundtrack of the film “Bed of Roses”, which starred Mary Stuart Masterson and Christian Slater.

The song was also successful in other countries as well. It became a #1 hit in Australia during the summer of 1996, and believe it or not, the song actually began charting in Italy before climbing the charts in Canada. It peaked at #14 in December 1994, aided by the fact that it was used in an Italian jeans commercial.

And, the song itself won the Juno Award for Single of the Year in 1996.

ADMISSION: After reading all of the information about “Insensitive”, I am now starting to understand why I thought the song was on the radio forever. By all accounts, it was in the Top 20 for nearly two years all around the globe!

And, that's really all that I have to say about the song “Insensitive”. So, to close off this piece, I thought that I would offer up some interesting facts about the woman who sang the song. After all, Jann Arden has lived quite an interesting life, and has had a ton of experiences along the way. Many of them were good...but a few of them were painful. That said, the sense of humour that Jann Arden has displayed through it all has been remarkable. I've always believed that the people who have gone through a lot in their lives turn out to be some of the most interesting adults in the world, and I think that description can apply to Jann.

Anyway, I'm babbling on, so let's just get on to some of things you may (or may not know) about Jann Arden.

  • Did you know that she once owned a restaurant in Calgary, Alberta known as “The Arden”? Sadly, the restaurant closed up shop in the mid-2000s.
  • Did you know that she was once escorted off of a VIA Rail train in March 2012 because she brought her dog on board? She was enroute to a concert in Ottawa, and the story made headlines all across Canada.
  • Did you know that her birth name is Jann Arden Anne Richards?
  • Did you know that she appeared as a guest star on the Canadian sitcom, “Corner Gas”, and is a frequent contributor to “The Rick Mercer Report”? Here's a clip of her and Rick Mercer below.

  • Did you know that she has taken part in several performances of “The Vagina Monologues” all across Canada?

  • Did you know that one of Jann's brothers is currently serving a life sentence in prison, and that her song “Hangin' By A Thread” is dedicated to him? He was convicted of murder right around the same time she scored her record deal with Universal Records in 1992.
  • Did you know that Jann Arden absolutely hates being on the red carpet for award shows? In an interview that she gave to The Globe and Mail in early 2012, she joked that when people asked her “who are you wearing”, she would respond with “Winners” (a discount outlet store here in Canada), adding that her bra was purchased at Walmart!

  • Did you know that she recorded an album of mostly cover songs? The album, “Uncover Me”, was released in 2007, and contained covers of songs by Janis Ian, The Mamas and The Papas, Cat Stevens, Dusty Springfield, and Petula Clark, among others. A second album of covers was released in 2011, appropriately called “Uncover Me 2”.
  • Did you know that Jann's song, “Run Like Mad” was originally used as the theme song for international airings of the teen drama “Dawson's Creek”? It aired during the first season, but was replaced by Paula Cole's “I Don't Want To Wait”.
  • Did you know that she poked fun at Pamela Anderson at the 2006 Juno Awards? After hearing Pamela Anderson ranting about being against the seal hunt in Canada, she responded by jokingly telling the audience that her brassiere was constructed entirely of seal eyelids! Yikes!
  • Did you know that Jann Arden is also a talented writer? She's released two books of poetry and personal reflections, an autobiography, and is a fairly regular contributor to Elle Magazine Canada. But, then again, when you consider that she wrote a lot of her own songs, this isn't much of a shocker.
  • Did you know that although Jann Arden officially made it big in the mid-1990s, she actually recorded her first single thirty-three years ago? The 1980 single, “Never Love A Sailor” never charted here in Canada.
  • Did you know that the majority of music videos that Jann recorded were directed by Jeth Weinrich? He directed all of Jann's music videos between 1993 and 2000.

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