Jewels of the Collection

This post is one of a series I’m writing as part of my participation as an official blogger for COUNTRY Financial/Cotton States’ Road Trips and Guitar Picks tour program, covering Jewel’s June 13 concert in Huntsville, where I’ll have backstage access.

At this point, the concert is getting close, so I’ve been digging out my Jewel CDs to get ready for Sunday night. I’ll be honest — my knowledge of Jewel’s music fades a bit over the years, from knowing her first album backward and forward to having never heard her country stuff, a fact that has had as much to do with the genre as with Jewel herself. Until recently, I didn’t listen to country, so when she went there, I didn’t follow. Now, being a bit more turned on to country music, I’m looking forward to the melding of the two.

While I’m refreshing myself on her work, I thought I’d write a post revisiting some of my favorites.

  • Like I said, my greatest level of familiarity is with Jewel’s first album, Pieces of You, starting with the first single, Who Will Save Your Soul. This album came out at a time when it was still pretty common for me to listen to albums as albums, instead of the modern era of ripping tracks individually to a computer or media player, so I listened to these songs a lot. “Save Your Soul was fun and catchy and eminently listenable.

  • In fact, this song gets two entries in this list, a second for the VH1 Storytellers version which culminates at the end with Jewel just having fun vocally. “When the kitty wants some ooooh it goes meow meow … meow.” Just a light bit of froth, but it still amuses me years later.

  • You Were Meant For Me was another of the singles from the first album. I wasn’t quite as passionate about it, but did like it, and I have a very funny story about my good friend Lain and I accidentally flirting with each other to this song during Jewel’s performance at Lilith Fair that I’m not going to tell on the blog right now. Ask me sometime.

  • The other two songs — save one I’m skipping — that stand out most from “Pieces of You” are Little Sister, which was, I believe, never a single, but which I enjoyed for the breezy way Jewel moved smoothly through the song. It’s not a typical loud uptempo song, but flows quickly. At the other extreme was the song that to me exemplified the downside of the early Jewel folk-sensitivity, the title track, Pieces Of You, which I always thought almost bordered on offensiveness in its sensitivity — “You say he’s a Jew, he’ll never wear that funny hat again.”

  • I bought Jewel’s album Spirit the week it came out on audiocassette, but, to be honest, all these years later, I remember it for two main things. One is that any time I hear the title, I immediately thing, a la Nirvana, “Smells Like Jewel Spirit” (sorry, Jewel). The other, of course, is the great first single, Hands.

  • At this point, I have to note that one of my favorite Jewel songs isn’t by Jewel at all. Modern Humorist did an impressively dead-on Hands pastiche for their fake soundtrack collection with a Jewel imitator crooning A Little Prayer (Wolverine’s Theme (which you can download for free at that link) — “My mutant chromosomes / and the strong metal in my bones … “

  • I don’t think I bought This Way when it came out, but I’ve always had a fond place in my heart for Standing Still. Good stuff.

  • Yeah, I still think of the Schick commercial when I hear Intuition, but, you know, that really doesn’t make the song any less awesome.

  • Dear Jewel, when you come to Huntsville Sunday, since you’ll actually be in Alabama, would you be so kind as to perform your version of Sweet Home Alabama? I’d be ever so grateful.

  • And then, the song I skipped. I don’t know exactly why Foolish Games is far and away my favorite Jewel song, but it is. To the point where I was terribly excited when I bought the album and discovered the album cut had a verse not in the radio version, meaning that there was even more of Foolish Games. Is it the awesome piano bit? (I’m a sucker for female singer-songwriters with pianos, what can I say?) The slow, brooding way the song unfolds? The lyrics? The fact that even then I so wanted to be the guy in the song? I mean, you know, he’s like the bad guy, and yet still awesome. The Han Solo/Rhett Butler bad/good/compelling archetype in five minutes of piano brood. OK, I’m gonna shut up now. This is kinda embarrassing.

You took your coat off and stood in the rain,
You’re always crazy like that.
And I watched from my window,
Always felt I was outside looking in on you.
You’re always the mysterious one with
Dark eyes and careless hair,
You were fashionably sensitive
But too cool to care.
You stood in my doorway, with nothing to say
Besides some comment on the weather.

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