Why Jewel makes honest music: ‘I don’t want to use art as propaganda’

Jewel dropped some serious wisdom on StandUP with Pete Dominick.

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SiriusXM Editor
September 21, 2016

Who will save your soul? 

Jewel herself.

The princess of folk-pop stopped by SiriusXM on Wednesday for an eloquently self-aware interview with Insight’s Pete Dominick about her memoir and Never Broken movement to help people find happiness.

Her difficult childhood is no secret: Raised in the Alaska wilderness by a single father after her mother left, Jewel moved out on her own at 15 and lived in her car. Her dad, abused by his own parent, had “turned to drinking.”

“I took my mom’s place in the act, so I was probably the only 4th grader who went from elementary school right to the bar,” she said with a laugh. “But I saw people trying to avoid pain, and I saw that nobody pulled it off. And I saw that they carried their pain around and it caused more pain to try to avoid the original pain. And so I made this vow to never drink or do drugs and to try to handle pain as it came. And the way I handled it was the skill I had at the time, was just journaling, writing. And every time I sat down to write, I felt calmer, I felt a more expansive feeling in my body, I felt less anxiety.”

Her songs about heartbreak and healing resonate because the lyrics reflect her real vulnerability.

“I’ve always been honest in my music because as a kid growing up in this remote place, I didn’t feel happy. I didn’t feel okay. And everybody in pop culture was saying they were beautiful and perfect and happy and skinny, and I was like, ‘God, I must be a freak.’ Because nobody actually told the truth,” she explained. “And so I started to find writers who told the truth like Bukowski and Anais Nin and people that just shared their warts right alongside their beauty and their talent. I was like, ‘I want to be honest. I don’t want to use art as propaganda.’ We all live the same life. We all live with betrayal and insecurity and fear, dreams.”

How does she stay grounded in an industry built on image?

“I was homeless when I got signed, and I almost didn’t sign a record deal because I knew fame doesn’t change you, it actually exaggerates you,” she said. “So any insecurities you have, any foibles, if you have a hole in you … if you start out insecure, it’s not going to suddenly go away because people start clapping for you. It’s going to make you feel more like a phony.”

Jewel also alluded to her 2014 split from husband Ty Murray, a professional bull rider.

“When my son was born, I realized I wasn’t the woman I wanted him to know yet,” she said of their 5-year-old child, Kase. “And that was a pretty radical thing to realize when you have a newborn, that there are probably some really radical things I need to change about myself. It ended up leading to a lot of radical changes in my life. I’m glad I made them. If I want my son to know one thing, it’s that we have permission to reinvent ourselves and make our outer world match our inner world. We try and make a great path, plan through the filter of whatever age we’re at, and then when you get to that goal you might go, ‘You know what? Now that I’m here, this isn’t actually fitting who I am, and I need to adjust.’ Life is a series of adjustments. It’s a series of fixes and course corrections and being more aligned.”

StandUP with Pete Dominick airs daily from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET on SiriusXM Insight (Ch. 121).

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