Like any musician, Jewel draws a lot of critics along with a lot of fans. She became popular for her folk-pop style and soul-searching lyrics. Jewel’s best songs demonstrate both and range from four of her five albums (not including her album of Christmas music). Songs from Pieces of You (1995), Spirit (1998), This Way (2001) and her latest, Goodbye Alice In Wonderland (2006) represent Jewel’s top ten offering the best lyrics and greatest meaning in her large song collection.
1. “Good Day” (Goodbye Alice in Wonderland): Good Day offers a realistic view of optimism in today’s increasingly violent world. The lyrics offer an importance of self-confidence and understanding in order to face the challenges of each day.
“It’s gonna be all right
’cause I’m all right with me.”
An important message in a society that does not always promote self-awareness and understanding as much as it supports competitiveness and wealth.
2. “Deep Water” (Spirit) The lyrics in Deep Water are extraordinarily touching for anyone who has difficulty finding themselves and figuring out where they “fit in” in society.
“And you try to find yourself
In the abstractions of religion and the cruelty of everyone else
And you wake up to realize
Your standard of living somehow got stuck on survive.”
Deep Water illuminates the struggle of feeling useless, unloved and unimportant. Like many Jewel songs, Deep Water also delves into the importance and struggle of self-awareness. This is a major reason why adolescent girls relate the best to Jewel’s music, it is very much about the struggle of growing up and finding yourself.
3. “Cleveland” (This Way) Cleveland is a realistic and unique love song, taking abstract symbols to reinforce the reality of an everyday relationship. It also speaks to the unity of love.
“From the air things look so ridiculous
Our fears so small, our fights so vain
I want to pilot a plane with you
So all our problems look small too.
It’s just an inch from me to you
depending on what map you use.”
4. “Goodbye Alice in Wonderland” (Goodbye Alice in Wonderland) The title track off of her latest album, Goodbye is a beautiful autobiographical account of growing up. It’s all about leaving the things that don’t make us happy, and finding the things that do. It is a deeper form of self-exploration, but of the same vein.
“Growing up is not an absence of dreaming
It’s being able to understand the difference between
The ones you can hold and the ones that you’ve been sold.
And dreaming is a good thing ’cause it brings new things to life
But pretending is an ending that perpetuates a lie.”
Jewel also sings, “truth is stranger than fiction.” Which is the ultimate truth. You never know what’s going to happen.
5. “Don’t” (Pieces of You) In the theme of Pieces of You, Don’t offers a quiet look at love and the complexities of what goes along with it. An analytical view of a relationship and the feelings that go along with it and what happens when the feeling is over, but it still lingers. Don’t really analyzes a particular feeling of fear when it comes to love and failure.
“Too many times, I’ve cared too much
I stood on the edge.”
6. “Absence of Fear” (Spirit) Absence of Fear is about finding a place within yourself where you can feel deeply without fear of the consequences. It is about the pureness of feeling and being able to accept that feeling, enjoy that feeling without the hard questions that go along with it.
“I am wanting
I am needing you here
Inside the absence of fear.”
Feeling purely without reservation is one of the hardest things that we allow ourselves to do, Absence of Fear celebrates the beauty of this feeling and this place.
7. “Break Me” (This Way)
“You could hurt me with your bare hands
you could hurt me using the sharp edge of what you say.
I am lost to you now,
there is no amount of reason that can save me.”
Break Me is about the power of love and, like Absence of Fear, how it is an act of letting go and allowing yourself to feel, but also opening yourself up for pain. Break Me, however, allows us to see despite the fear of pain, love is a beautiful thing that can be worth it.
8. “Fragile Heart” (Goodbye Alice in Wonderland) Fragile Heart is another love-song-beyond-a-love-song. It’s about being in love, trying to make love work despite some baggage and some fear. It is about the sometimes casual/impermanent nature of love, and trying despite that.
“It always seems love is not sweet like in dreams,
something falls through and I don’t want that to happen to me and you.”
9. “Near You Always” (Pieces of You) Near You Always is another song about the fear of deep relationships and deep feelings and trying to push them away.
“Your hands are in my hair
but my heart is in your teeth
and it makes me want to make you near me always.
I want to be near you always.”
Despite the fear in the beginning of the song, it takes a journey to just accepting wanting to be near the person always. The deep feeling overrides the fear. Jewel’s songs are very approachable because they talk about real feelings and fears that most of us will experience.
10. “Sometimes it Be That Way” (This Way) Sometimes It Be That Way is a fun song with lots of unique imagery. It’s about letting go of guilt as an unimportant emotion. It’s about picking oneself up after hardship, dusting oneself off, and realizing sometimes bad things are going to happen, but we’ve got to keep going.
“Sorry I’m glue,
and the rest bounces off of youÃ¢Â?Â¦
Oh well, sometimes it be that way.”
Jewel’s songs are not for everyone. They have an attention to lyric and mood that only appeals to some. Still, her best songs are not those hits on the radio, but those on the rest of the album exploring human feeling and frailty in a beautiful way.