Jewel’s Greatest Hits Tour
This past Thursday at the illustrious Moore Theatre in downtown Seattle, the award-winning singer and songwriter, Jewel, whose professional career has spanned over 20 years, graced our ears with her Greatest Hits tour. Her show was a joyous reunion, catching up with Jewel’s new tunes and hearing how the melodies and depth of lyrics have matured along with her.
As soon as I saw the stage, it was apparent that Jewel is not fazed by pop stardom. The setup clearly reflected her simplistic outlook on life. There were four beautiful guitars displayed center stage. To the left was a small table with a vase filled with spring flowers and a large black song binder placed on top, and of course a microphone. The house was full, and Seattle was ready for one memorable performance. And she delivered; it was an evening of reflection, comedy and inspiration.
In an exclusive interview following her live show, I had the privilege of speaking to Jewel about just about anything and everything. We discussed her first gay crush, as a young teen, with a fabulous man who wore a mink shawl at an Alaskan biker bar, saying, "I’ve always loved all my gay friends because they have the courage to really be themselves and let their own freak flag fly."
When asking her what has been the most memorable performance to date, there was no hesitation in her reply: "Playing for Pope John Paul at the Vatican along with the Vatican Orchestra was a really cool gig; I’m not Catholic but still pretty cool." She quickly followed up with opening and singing with Bob Dylan was equally as cool, "he really took me under his wing."
I fell in love with Jewel after hearing her first hit single "Who Will Save Your Soul." This was the first song she ever wrote, when she was 16 hitchhiking around Mexico. She held on to the song, and the rest is musical history. "It is a surreal experience when your first song becomes your first single a few years later," reflects the singer.
"The first time I heard it on the radio, I was so excited, and I started to cry but it wasn’t really that I was moved at the moment, it was because it wasn’t until then that I realized that I sang like Kermit the Frog," she said. "I got really nervous in the studio and my throat tightened up and it was like "who would save your soul (singing in an exaggerated Kermit voice)." There were awkward snickers heard from the audience; I was among the ranks. Half kidding, her punch line was, "But it ended up being embarrassing all the way to the bank, so it’s worked out!"
The audience ate it up, we were all in tears. Not many celebrities can authentically make-fun of themselves. YouTube the original music video of this song, close your eyes, and yes, a little green amphibian will pop in your head.
I tell Jewel that she was incredibly funny, and she replied, "It always surprises people when a lot of my songs are grappling with serious topics. I think people don’t realize that I never take anything too seriously." She reminisces when her father taught her, early on back in the Alaska days playing in bars, how to read a crowd and feel their energy.
So is this why you never create a performance set list (taking note of the large binder full of songs on stage with her)? "Yea I don’t enjoy them, I like to be able to read the audience and let a show be a partnership. Crowds are different every night, and some people come in very tired and they don’t want a lot of wordy material, they want to laugh and relax before they get into the harder material. Some audiences just want to be impressed all night and don’t want a serious show. I enjoy that I have a job that I don’t have to do the same thing every night, and I can do a different set list and just respond to what is happening with the crowd."
Naturally I wanted to know what she thought of our crowd. Without skipping a beat, she stated, "It was a great crowd, I love my fans; I have such a cool fan base. They are very respectful of being able to feel the lyrics; my fans want to hear what I just wrote as much as they want to hear a song that was a big hit. You really can’t ask for much more as a singer and songwriter."