One of the primary aspects of Jewel that has maintained my interest all these years is that with every album project, the new children’s album included, she continues to widen the scope of her music. With that in mind, I thought it might be fun this time around to investigate "Jupiter," Jewel's first conscious entry into the world of pop music.
“Jupiter” was written in the early summer of 1998 shortly before she began the sessions for her "Spirit" album with longtime Madonna cohort and producer Patrick Leonard. It was an ambitious step as her pop chops were still just forming, but in retrospect, this song can clearly be heard as Jewel beginning to find her own niche in pop music.
Upon release, I clearly remember the mixed reactions from many of her early fans, as "Jupiter" and the album as a whole, was a departure from the ragged folksy style of her debut album and a significant leap in terms of production. Despite dissenting reactions from some of her early fans, Jewel would continue developing her pop direction on the "This Way" album with songs like "Serve The Ego," "Do You Want To Play" and "New Wild West," which would eventually culminate in the full blown pop album that surprised and downright frightened away some of her early fans, "0304."
But back to "Jupiter," which was based on some poetry Jewel had written. I'll let her explain it to you, just as she explained it to me:
"Jupiter was based around a painting by Modigliani that I loved called 'Venus.' This painting is his rebellion against the classical style and his reaction to another famous painting called 'Birth of Venus' by Botticelli. It sort of gives the finger to a romanticized and unrealistic portrayal of femininity and painting technique. It cracks me up, as Modigliani's 'Venus' has her mocking the pose in Botticelli's painting. The song plays on that theme, from the perspective of a modern woman, who did not want to be idealized, as a virginal goddess, remote and perfect - but as a real woman, flawed, irreverent, passionate - not born of the stars, but of the earth... to be dealt with directly and physically, and not stared at like a mere object. For me, exploring pop music was always about embodying the irreverent attitude of Modigliani's ‘Venus,’ using knowledge of classic craft and technique, to make a ironic comment on it at the same time."
Like the vast majority of her songs, "Jupiter" was initially written and demoed solo acoustic during the pre-production phase prior to the "Spirit" album sessions. The album version turned out relatively true to that original demo, as it remained acoustic guitar and vocally driven, but it also had other instruments embellishing her arrangement and a lot more polish. When Jewel embarked on the world tour for the "Spirit" album, "Jupiter" became a staple of her live repertoire and she would continue to develop it with her touring band, experimenting with tempo and further changing and embellishing the instrumentation. In August of 1999, "Jupiter" would be released as the third single from the "Spirit" album, but in a significantly different arrangement than the album recording. Increasing the tempo, syncopating the rhythm and with much more lush instrumentation, the single further developed Jewel’s vision of pop music. She was never completely satisfied with it (which explains why it was only performed on that tour), but this new arrangement was another step in her getting a hang on pop music.
This single became the version she and her band would continue to play on that tour and which would become the soundtrack when she and director Matthew Rolston created the video for the song. Although that video received minimal airplay, I still think it Jewel's most visually striking video, successfully realizing her vision of neon and flowers blooming and the subliminal messaging images rapidly flashing by. If you've never seen it, you can view the video for "Jupiter" on YouTube here. It was unlike any other videos at the time and quite innovative in its approach to color. Rolston must have agreed, as he would continue to direct subsequent videos using the same color pallet and a similar style for other artists.
When recently conversing with Jewel about Jupiter’s lack of airplay, she replied by saying something I found interesting. I thought it conveyed her insight into her own abilities at the time, as well as her determination in exploring the pop music path, regardless of what the reactions might be. She said:
"I think I was moving in a direction, half formed - not formed enough to be a smash - and different enough to make fans uncomfortable. Where as by the time I did "Intuition," I had the craft down enough that even though it still scared fans, sonically it was an undeniable hit anyway."
I think that statement does a good job at summing up the role that "Jupiter" played in the development of her songwriting better than anything else I could say, so I'll move on to the issue at hand - this month's free Club EDA download. Since almost everyone here is familiar with the album and single versions of "Jupiter" and all the live recordings from the 1999 tour are essentially that single's arrangement, I wanted to turn you on to a version of the song hardly anybody has ever heard.
In February of 1999, prior to the Spirit World Tour officially beginning in Australia, Jewel spent a few weeks doing a promotional television and radio station tour of Europe. At a stop in Madrid, she performed for the only time ever a solo acoustic version of "Jupiter" on a televised talk show called Lo Plus. That studio audience experienced the only live performance that reflected her initial songwriting demo of the song and she would never perform the song solo acoustic again. Today's free Club EDA download is an audio capture of that performance. Since it is sourced from a VHS tape of that television broadcast, it is not quite up to our usual soundboard master audio standards, but is still quite an enjoyable listen considering the source. And needless to say, it is an extreme rarity that few fans have ever heard. In addition to this rare live recording, a pdf file of Jewel’s handwritten lyrics to "Jupiter" are also included for you.
If you are already a registered member of jeweljk.com, simply log in to the community area and help yourself to the files here. If you are not yet registered, please register first here. Its free and easy. If you experience any technical difficulty, don't hesitate to ask for help at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’ve missed any of our previous Club EDA downloads, all of them are still available, so you can help yourself to those files as well. For details on the previous downloads, you can access my previous blogs about them by clicking “Alan." In regards to our free downloads, we respectfully request that rather than share the free files elsewhere, that you do Jewel the favor of instead sharing the link to join her free Club EDA community, so that others can download the free files themselves. Please spread the word rather than the files and help Jewel build her online community. You can read her thoughts on this here.
Enjoy this month's free Club EDA download of the only solo acoustic live performance of “Jupiter” ever, recorded before a television studio audience in Madrid, Spain on February 11, 1999. Alan