Not My Job: Singer-Songwriter Jewel Gets Quizzed On Jewel Thieves Before she hit it big with her first album, Pieces of You in 1995, Jewel was living out of her car. She tells her story in a new memoir, Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story.

Not My Job: Singer-Songwriter Jewel Gets Quizzed On Jewel Thieves

Not My Job: Singer-Songwriter Jewel Gets Quizzed On Jewel Thieves

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Jesse Grant/Getty Images for CMT
Singer-songwriter Jewel appears on The Josh Wolf Show in June 2015 in Los Angeles, Calif.
Jesse Grant/Getty Images for CMT

Before she hit it big with her first album, Pieces of You in 1995, Jewel was living out of her car. Her big break came at Inner Change, a struggling San Diego coffee shop where she played a weekly show. She's written a memoir called Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story.

We've invited Jewel to play a game called "We hope you sleep in a safe" — because when you're named Jewel, you have to watch out for jewel thieves.


And now the game where we reward a lifetime of meaningful and useful struggle with five minutes of pointless diversion. We call it Not My Job. The singer-songwriter Jewel famously was sleeping in her car in the streets of San Diego just before she hit it big with her first album. We hope that allowed her to finally move into a much nicer, more comfortable car. She's written a memoir titled "Never Broken." We are delighted to have her with us now. Jewel, welcome to WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME.

JEWEL: Well, thank you.


SAGAL: So, Jewel, are - you grew up in Alaska. Tell us what your upbringing was like there.

JEWEL: Yeah, it was a very rural existence. It's also a very beautiful place. It's very rugged and demands that you work hard to make a living up there, but it's beautiful.

SAGAL: And one of the things you did was you were yodeling with your father in bars at the age of 8.

JEWEL: I was, yeah. My dad and I became a duet when my mom left when I was 8. And I was probably the only fourth grader that went from elementary school right to the bar, yeah.


SAGAL: Skipping those troublesome middle years before you found - well, you tell this this story - you tell so many stories in the book, and I do recommend it. It's slightly harrowing. But there's one story you tell of, like, playing in biker bars. And the police would raid the biker bar and you had to go hide in the bathroom.

JEWEL: Yeah, I know. Obviously I was underage so the routine was I would go in the bathroom while the cops were there. And the biker men were always the most protective, actually. They was the best bars to sing in. And they would send their, quote, unquote, "women" in there to keep me company, and I have amazing memories of me in button-up shirts with long, straight, brushed hair sitting there with all these biker women in various states of leather and acid-washed denim and them being, like, hey, kid, you sing beautiful. You want to sing at me and my old man's wedding? Son of a [expletive].


SAGAL: Now, there's a particular part of your story I was amazed to read and I want to get to it now. So bringing you forward a little bit in time. You're 15 years old, you're living by yourself in a unheated cabin near Homer, Alaska. You were commuting to work by horse, which I love.

JEWEL: Or hitchhiking, yeah.

SAGAL: Were there horse jams on the way into downtown Homer?

JEWEL: (Laughter) There were not, but the drive-through was interesting sometimes at McDonald's.

SAGAL: I can imagine.


SAGAL: And you get an invitation to apply to Interlochen, the famous art school in Michigan. And, well, tell me what happened next.

JEWEL: I was given a partial scholarship and I needed to raise about $10,000, which I wasn't able to come up with. And so a bunch of the women in town and a bunch of my aunts helped me organize my first solo concert. I hadn't written any songs yet, but I did Cole Porter songs. And a lot of local businesses donated items and we auctioned them off. And I made quite a bit of money, but I was still short. And Mr. Tom Bodett helped - he made sure I got off to school. And he helped write a check and he sent me off, yeah.


SAGAL: So I just want to clarify 'cause I love this. So you're like - you're 15 years old, you're living by yourself, you have no money, here is your chance to go to art school. And after the concert, you were still short how much money?

JEWEL: Well, this is getting quite personal.

SAGAL: Well...

JEWEL: Let's ask Tom his permission.

SAGAL: Now, in the book, you say that Tom Bodett, who you call Homer's resident celebrity, wrote you a check for $5,000.

JEWEL: Oh, I forgot I put it in there. So, yeah, sorry about that Tom.

TOM BODETT: (Laughter) No, that's...

SAGAL: Wait a minute, you were getting all shy about information that I only knew 'cause you wrote it in your book?


BODETT: Well, Jewel, hi, by the way.

JEWEL: Hi, Tom.

BODETT: It's been a long time. And thank you so much for remembering that. But it's funny, I remembered it as $500.

JEWEL: Maybe it was. It seemed like $5,000 in the end (laughter).

BODETT: I like your version better. But I also seem to recall that your Aunt Sharon was my bookkeeper at the time.


BODETT: And I just got to wonder now if I said, Sharon, why don't you write Jewel a check for $500 and then...


JEWEL: I always loved that Aunt Sharon.

SAGAL: Yeah.

BODETT: Yeah, she was always very good to you - me too.


SAGAL: And what's interesting is you write in the book, quite movingly and a little, again, harrowingly, about showing up at Interlochen and all these rich kids who had grown up with support and money and intact families all there in their nice clothes, and you're wandering around. You don't know how to do anything. You don't know how to act like they are. And it occurred to me, you're Harry Potter.

JEWEL: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Interlochen was Hogwarts and Tom was your Hagrid.


BODETT: I like that. Hagrid survives right?

SAGAL: (Laughter) He does - I think he - he makes it in the end. You're OK - so does Harry. So, obviously, great things then happen. You had many adventures. You - there's a story about - you open for Bob Dylan, right?

JEWEL: Uh-huh.

SAGAL: And that must've been pretty cool.

JEWEL: That was cool. You know, my first record failed for the first year. And so typically artists and labels will move on and make a second record. But then Bob Dylan took me out, and so I postponed that second album and toured with him. And he mentored me and just every night went over my lyrics with me. He's like, hey, what made you write that lyric? And I was like, I can't believe Bob Dylan's (laughter) asking me about my lyrics.

SAGAL: So you were...

JEWEL: He gave me books to read, and he was incredible.

SAGAL: You were able to understand what he was saying? 'Cause...

JEWEL: Yeah, I'm a great translator. He's used me in several countries.

SAGAL: Really?

JEWEL: Yeah...

SAGAL: Like...

JEWEL: My Japanese Bob Dylan's really - it's like (speaking Japanese).


JEWEL: Thank you.

SAGAL: So Bob Dylan will stand up and go, hey, it's nice to see you. And Jewel's like, he says it's very nice to see you.

JEWEL: Yes (laughter).

SAGAL: I have to ask you this question because I rarely get a chance to do this - to confirm one celebrity story with another. Rob Lowe wrote a book, and we interviewed him about the book but not this particular story. He says that you were a guest star on his ill-fated TV show, "Lion's Den," and you were great. He thought your - as an actor, your talent was as amazing as a singer. But that when it came time - you played his love interest - to, like, make out, you wouldn't do it 'cause you thought it was inappropriate for a married woman to be making out with another guy. That's what Rob Lowe says. Jewel, is this true?

JEWEL: That is true.

SAGAL: Is it?

JEWEL: Yeah, I didn't kiss Rob Lowe. I didn't know that would be such a big deal.


JEWEL: Now, that said, you know, it was unprofessional of me. I mean, I agreed to do the gig and the kissing was in the script. And I did one kissing scene with him and people can Google it, so it happened. I just didn't do it the other times that was in the script. 'Cause I don't think they asked me back. It was just where I was at at the time.

SAGAL: I understand. But I'm glad to confirm it 'cause I wouldn't want to think that Rob Lowe was a liar.

JEWEL: (Laughter) He was not.

SAGAL: OK. Well, Jewel, it is a pleasure to talk to you and reunite you with your old friend Tom. But we have invited you here to play a game that this time we're calling...


We hope you sleep in a safe.

SAGAL: That's because for every jewel, there's a jewel thief out there. We're going to ask you three questions about jewel thieves. Answer two correctly, you'll win a prize for one of our listeners, Carl Kasell's voice on their voicemail. Bill, who is Jewel playing for?

KURTIS: Amy Thompsen of Portland, Ore.

SAGAL: Here's your first question. One of the most famous jewel thefts in history was the stealing of the Irish Crown Jewels in 1907, a crime that still has not been solved. The lead suspect, though, was the man who was supposed to be keeping the crown jewels safe. Why was he suspected? Was it A - because he used to gaze at them and say someday you shall be mine; B - because he once got drunk and woke up wearing them around his neck; or C - because his wife suddenly appeared wearing what looked like the Irish Crown Jewels, which she said she got as a present from her husband?

JEWEL: I'm going to go with B.

SAGAL: You're going to go with B - he got drunk and woke up with them around his neck?

JEWEL: Yeah.

SAGAL: You're right. That's what he did.


JEWEL: Really?

SAGAL: Yeah.


SAGAL: Arthur Vicars was the man who was supposed to guard the jewels, but he was known for getting drunk and taking them out of their safe. But nobody could ever prove he took them, so we don't know where they went.

In August 2012, a Massachusetts man stole a valuable diamond from a guy who was selling it on Craigslist. Basically, he met the guy to look at the diamond, grabbed it and ran.


SAGAL: But the thief was caught when he did what? A - he responded to an ad placed by the police for an even bigger diamond with the text, bet you can't steal this one; B - he sued the guy he stole from for fraud when the diamond proved to be slightly smaller than advertised on Craigslist; or C - he constantly texted the victim about his anxiety and guilt about stealing the diamond.

JEWEL: I'm going with C.

SAGAL: You're going to go with C. You're right.



SAGAL: The guy started sending texts 'cause he had the guy's phone number via Craigslist, so he started sending texts to the victim. And the last one begged the victim to come get him because he was having a panic attack.

JEWEL: (Laughter).

SCHLESINGER: That just sounds like a personal ad on Craigslist.

SAGAL: Yeah, I know, it really does.

SCHLESINGER: How many roses?

SAGAL: All right, let's see if you can be perfect here, 'cause you are showing a surprisingly alarming amount of expertise.

JEWEL: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Just a few weeks ago, a pair of Ohio jewel thieves snatched 26 diamond rings, but their getaway was foiled when what happened? They counted, realized they only had 20 total fingers, so they had no way of taking the extra six rings; B - they got stuck in the elevator and had to be rescued by police; or C - their getaway car was impounded for spewing 40 times the allowable limit of nitrogen oxide.

JEWEL: They could've got pulled over from their exhaust system being too bad. I'm going to go with B though.

SAGAL: You're right again, Jewel.


SAGAL: Very good.

KURTIS: Impressive.

SAGAL: Bill, how did Jewel do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Oh, she did all right - 3 and 0.

SAGAL: Congratulations.

KURTIS: Congratulations, Jewel.

SAGAL: Well done.

JEWEL: Thank you.


SAGAL: Jewel's new book is "Never Broken." It is an amazing story and, yes, it does end well. Her new album is "Picking Up The Pieces." Jewel, thank you so much for joining us on WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME.

JEWEL: Thanks, guys.

BODETT: Great to talk to you, Jewel.

JEWEL: Hey, Tom, thanks.

BODETT: Take care.



JEWEL: (Singing) People living their lives for you on TV. They say they're better than you, and you agree. He says, hold my calls from behind those cold brick walls. Says, come here, boy, there ain't nothing for free.

SAGAL: In just a minute, we've seen the clouds from both sides now in our Listener Limerick Challenge game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to join us on the air. We'll be back in a minute with more WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME from NPR.

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