What happened to Jewel?

Thinking about Jewel’s butchered version of “Sweet Home Alabama” in this thread got me wondering what happened to the singer I love so much on Pieces of You.

See, I think Pieces of You, Jewel’s first album, is absolutely beautiful. The songs have a raw energy to them, and are truly imaginative. “Painters” tells a heartbreaking story in a few short minutes, “Little Sister” has the quality of a song improvised in a smoky nightclub, “Foolish Games” is an honest look at a rocky relationship, “Morning Song” is full of a sweet sentiment that my wife and I share often, and the title track “Pieces of You” is a poetic marvel. In fact, I pretty much think all of the songs on this album are worth listening to many time over (and I have).

So, when her second album Spirit came out, I was all over it. I bought it the day it came out and listened to it immediately. I was sure I’d like it. I listened to the whole thing… then again… and again. And I was disappointed. It was flat, full of generic soft songs, only a couple of which (such as “Hands”) had any glimmer of the power of her first album. And that glimmer was faint indeed. In a few short weeks, I was surprised when I decided that trading “Spirit” in for something else would be no problem.

I haven’t even bothered to buy This Way, her third album. The first single from it, “Standing Still,” is an even more bland pop song. The lyrics are dry and the performance flat. I ever watched her perform it live (on Jay Leno, I think) and it sounded like a confused mess. I have since at least listened to This Way in its entirety, and was even less interested in plunking down my hard-earned for it.

With her first album, I thought she really had something special. Something unpolished, sure, but that was part of the charm for me. She sounded raw… vulnerable but tough, world-weary but still hopeful. Her words had a passion, and her songs were simple works of beauty. While her two books have been interesting, her music has gone steadily downhill.

The final nail for me was when I heard her botched version of “Sweet Home Alabama” last night, and I barely even recognized her. It sounded like a familiar voice, but I had to check the credits to find out that it was her. All of that rawness, that power, that unidentifiable quality that made her unique… it seems to be gone. Whether stamped out by the music industry machine, expended in that first creative fire, or simply a result of her growing older and more comfortable, I really don’t see any of it anymore.

Ah well… at least I still have Pieces of You to remember it by. Off to listen to “Painters,” I think.

Maybe she’s too busy blissfully shacking up with her rodeo champion boyfriend to think of any cool songs.

I think some people only have a few good songs in them.

And it’s just inherently more interesting to hear the innermost thoughts and feelings of a struggling young artist than of a rich pop star.

The last song on the album, Sometimes It Be That Way is great. I think she got caught up in the pop star life and forgot that her strenghts are in simple folk songs, not over-wrought ‘productions’.

My Jewel story

The year was 1998. I was working in a mall Waldenbooks, where real literature is eschewed in favour of whatever the corporation thinks is easily marketable crap. One day Jewel’s book of poetry A Knight Without Armor arrived. Promptly half of the already meagre poetry section was taken to the back and the covers ripped off (meaning that they are reported to the publisher as unsuccessful and unsold) so we could have space for Jewel. Then, the manager told all us booksellers that we must pitch the book to every customer that approached the register or dawdled in the poetry section. “Phrases like ‘some of the most moving poetry written in the 20th century’ and ‘a writer of supreme talent’ are suitable”, said our manager. Well, for anyone who has seen the book, it’s pretty sucky poetry, not anything better than what you’d see in a high school literary magazine, and yet we threw out Milton and Dante for her books. From that point on, I have harbored a lasting grudge against Jewel and the corporation which owns Waldenbooks.

I really hope Jewel hasn’t taken time off to prepare another volume.


Isn’t Waldenbooks owned by the same people who run Borders?

Yes, I believe Borders bought Waldenbooks several years ago. However, they decided to keep their “Frequent Reader Card” scams separate so people have to buy one for each store. :rolleyes:


Thank you.

Commenting on Jewel, she’s a mediocrity who seems able to fool the public into thinking better of her. In that way, she’s the Rod McKuen (what became of him?) or Edgar Guest of our time- a “quasi-poet” who sells better than real ones.

I don’t know much about Jewel, but I loved Standing Still.

As an aside from what was stated above (the hard-knock life of a rich musician)…

People identified her with songs she wrote when she was 14 years old. She grew up, that’s the problem.