JEWEL: Marrying Dreams and Reality

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Part of that philosophy she attributes to having been a songwriter for so long. After a while, she says, you realize that you’re going to go through periods where it’s more difficult to write, or where you’re only writing about one subject, or in one style. As a rookie writer, it’s easy to be thrown by those phases, to be anxious that it’s a permanent shift. But after years at it, she says she’s developed the confidence that it’s a process that ebbs and flows.

“In the beginning it’s nerve wracking,” she continues, “and you think, ‘How will I ever write again?’ You worry. But as you get used to the process, that empty space doesn’t bother you anymore. You know that it won’t be there one minute and the next moment it will. I can’t explain where it comes from; I just know that it will come.”

And when those dry spells lift, Jewel finds herself just as excited about creating music as when she began, even after more than a decade as a full-time musician and songwriter. Much of that is because of her own competitive urge to challenge herself and experiment. Having freed herself from any burden of maintaining her superstardom, she enjoys just testing her own limits for the fun of it and seeing where the process takes her.

“I think it’s really easy to write a really bad pop song that’s going to be a hit, and I think it’s easy to write a really cool, credible song that the press is going to love but is never going to see the light of day. “It’s really hard to write a smart pop song. Something that you feel lyrically has integrity…that you feel like you pushed yourself melodically, that you’re proud of, that also can be a hit. That’s really the Holy Grail, and it’s kept me turned on.”

Though Jewel may occasionally take time out from music to work on other projects, like a cartoon she created for Nickelodeon called Punk Rock Angel Girl, songwriting is the passion that she’ll always come back to.

“I always looked at songwriting as my retirement plan,” she says. “I won’t always want to work as hard promoting records. You know, the big push it takes just isn’t that fun. Hopefully I’ll have a family one day and just concentrate on writing songs and have the studio there in Texas and bring writers in and just do art.” And live happily ever after.

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