For today’s free Club EDA download, we explore a song that had to fight its way into Jewel’s repertoire, “Everything Breaks.” For the first couple of years after she wrote it, the song was literally only performed once a year. If it wasn’t for a handful of hardcore fans requesting it, the song would have possibly been forgotten. "Everything Breaks" is essentially a sad relationship breakup song. It's lyric also touches on the concept of the temporary nature of all things - a theme Jewel would return to. Breakup songs are a dime a dozen and the structure of "Everything Breaks" is fairly conventional, but what makes it so potent is Jewel’s voice.
Jewel initially wrote “Everything Breaks” in the Spring of 1995, shortly after the release of her first album, "Pieces Of You." That August she was anticipating recording sessions with producer Juan Patino, scheduled at his NYC studio for several days in September. The sessions were intended for rerecording “You Were Meant For Me” as a followup single to “Who Will Save Your Soul” and to record potential B-sides for that single. Jewel was touring solo at the time and on August 29, 1995, she stopped by the studios of WHFS-FM, Annapolis, Maryland’s most popular alternative rock station. There she performed “Everything Breaks” for the first time live on the air. Several of her earliest online fans recorded that broadcast and included it on a fan-made cassette compilation. That cassette was freely distributed to members of her first online mailing list and copies made their way around the world, which would become a key factor in the song surfacing again a year later.
During the sessions with Juan Patino that September, Jewel recorded “Everything Breaks” as a potential b-side. These sessions were also responsible for producing the version of "You Were Meant For Me" that is heard on the rarely seen Sean Penn directed video for the song. The studio recordings on the highly collectible promo CD known as “Phyllis Barnabee" were also recorded at these sessions. “Everything Breaks” however, was not chosen for anything at that time and would not surface again for another year.
That same circulating fan cassette became a key factor in "Everything Breaks" finally getting its concert debut a year later. This would occur at Jewelstock in July of 1996, the first of her free EDA concert events. A fan in Puerto Rico, who’s name escapes me now, received that cassette and above all else, loved "Everything Breaks." Although he was unable to attend, he emailed the Jewel listserv and voiced his request. That message was relayed to Jewel and she obliged by performing it on the second night of that event. Despite it being a bit rusty, it was a compelling performance that struck a nerve with many listeners that night, myself included. However, once again, the song would not be heard again for another year.
Exactly a year later (July of 1997), the studio recording of "Everything Breaks" from the 1995 Patino sessions finally saw the light of day when it was issued as a bonus track on the limited edition 2LP vinyl edition of “Pieces Of You.” It would also later surface as a bonus track on international CD singles of "Foolish Games."
In September of 1997 while out on tour, “Everything Breaks” was getting a significant amount of requests (many of them from me!) and Jewel finally began giving the song more attention. Although it would disappear again from time to time, “Everything Breaks” has remained in her concert repertoire ever since and in my opinion, has lost none of its potency.
To demonstrate that, presented here is a more recent performance of “Everything Breaks.” This version spontaneously surfaced in Durham, North Carolina on October 29, 2009, in response to a boisterous request from the audience. In addition to this high quality live recording, a pdf file of Jewel’s handwritten lyrics are also included.
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Enjoy this month's free Club EDA download of “Everything Breaks” recorded at the Carolina Theater in Durham, NC on October 29, 2009.