In Her Own Words: Jewel on Punk Rock being a ferocity of authenticity and more
“When I was on the cover of Time magazine and the headline read “Grunge is out, empathy is in,” I knew I was part of the new punk rock. You see, punk rock isn’t a genre… it is a ferocity of authenticity. It’s the outrageous belief in your own voice’s value, even in the face of impossible odds.
“And another revolution happened: An era of singer-songwriters was ushered in. An era of women, even. Dominating charts.
“But everything is cyclical, as it should be. Soon the “earnest feels” gave way to new kings and queens. Britney Spears and Ricky Martin and a succession of amazing music has happened. Mumford & Sons and the Black Keys and the Kings of Leon and Taylor Swift and Kanye. Drake. Adele.
“But I am still on the streets. Helping homeless kids. I travel all around the country. People need help. They are struggling. They are medicating. They are hurting themselves or others. I have been finding ways to help. I built an English class for public schools, giving them tools I developed to cope with anxiety. I’m building a culture company with Zappos to help corporations with the same thing. I have been working with the homeless across the country. I am in the trenches. And it’s real. I listen. I watch. I see what connects. I feel for the pulse of culture. Like I always have.
“And guess what? I see another gap.
“There is a gap between what’s being reflected in pop culture and the level of discontent, anxiety and outrage that’s on the streets. It’s been a material world again, folks. And magazines, social media and songs are still telling kids that all that matters is how to get paid and laid — how to be popular.
“There is a serious gap between the social unrest and what is being reflected back to that society in the arts.
“With all the marches and protests and gun violence and political upheaval and division, I kept thinking, well, here comes punk rock again. Here comes folk music. Here come the songs and songwriters who will galvanize a generation to pull the rug from beneath a slick, smug facade to give a voice to what’s really going on — the gritty heroic truth of it all.
“I know that many musicians talking about broken hearts and getting high and hot girls are killing it. But kids are killing themselves… and each other.
“A lot of music is entertaining. But what’s happening on the streets calls for more than just entertainment. It calls for honesty. Suicides are up 70% since 2006. Anxiety and depression are at all-time highs.
“I believe poets and singer-songwriters in any genre have a sacred duty to hold up a mirror to society so that society can see who they honestly are. No better, no worse, just real. To let them know: they exist!”