Eilen Jewell, The Half-Broke Horse Of Idaho, Returns Home "It's a ghost town, essentially," Jewell says of her hometown. "I mean, that's how it's listed on the map. It's about as Western as it gets."
NPR logo

Eilen Jewell, The Half-Broke Horse Of Idaho, Returns Home

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/409698844/409939265" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Eilen Jewell, The Half-Broke Horse Of Idaho, Returns Home

Eilen Jewell, The Half-Broke Horse Of Idaho, Returns Home

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/409698844/409939265" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It is one of the great American story lines - the hero leaves home only to be drawn back. Let's hear some music about one singer's return home to Idaho. Musician Eilen Jewell has a new album out this week called "Sundown Over Ghost Town," and she spoke to NPR's Leah Scarpelli.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WORRIED MIND")

EILEN JEWELL: (Singing) Been all around this world just to come back to you.

LEAH SCARPELLI, BYLINE: When Eilen Jewell was growing up in Boise, she says she had a sense of wanderlust.

JEWELL: I always felt like I wanted to leave, and I remember when I learned the word wanderlust I felt like I finally had a word to describe myself.

SCARPELLI: Jewell did wander - to go to college in New Mexico, to busk on the streets of Venice Beach. She even went back to Boise. That didn't work out. Next, she tried Boston.

JEWELL: I remember hearing, when I was working in a very urban coffee shop, on the radio, suddenly out of nowhere, was Loretta Lynn, and she was singing "Honky Tonk Girl."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HONKY TONK GIRL")

LORETTA LYNN: (Singing) We once were happy. My heart was in a whirl, but now I'm a honky tonk girl.

JEWELL: This song and the twang in her voice and the simplicity of the music and the space between the notes made me think of Idaho.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HONKY TONK GIRL")

LYNN: (Singing) And fill my glass up while I cry.

JEWELL: Eventually, it just slowly dawned on me that home was Idaho and that's where I wanted to come back to.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MY HOMETOWN")

JEWELL: (Singing) If sweetness had a sound it would sound like my hometown.

SCARPELLI: Back in Idaho, Eilen Jewell headed to the mountains north of Boise to Idaho City, a former mining center during the Gold Rush. It was there that she wrote what would become her new album.

JEWELL: It's a ghost town, essentially. I mean, that's how it's listed on the map. It's about as Western as it gets.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NEEDLE AND THREAD")

JEWELL: (Singing) Just one horse shy of a one-horse town.

SCARPELLI: Jewell's family has a place in Idaho City.

JEWELL: It's a funny bit of land because it's really mostly rocks (laughter) so its beauty is not very pedestrian. It's not something that a lot of people would appreciate, but I think that's part of why we love it so much.

SCARPELLI: Her dad farms trees on that land. He also keeps a horse, a mustang named Pyro.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HALF-BROKE HORSE")

JEWELL: (Singing) Stolen from the desert in the lost part of the state.

Pyro was partly broke, meaning that he's still partly a wild horse. If you go over to the corral where he's kept, he'll trot over to you, but then if you hold your hand out to pat him or something he'll try to bite you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HALF-BROKE HORSE")

JEWELL: (Singing) He watches on the edge, dirty coat, shaggy mane; too wild for this world, too tame for mustangs.

I see him as being a very kindred spirit to a lot of folks around these parts. I often feel that tug of war myself between my mustang and my tame side.

SCARPELLI: With her wanderlust behind her, at least for now, Eilen Jewell lives in Boise with her husband. They own a house and they have a new daughter, Mavis. Eilen Jewell's new album, "Sundown Over Ghost Town," is out this week. Leah Scarpelli, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HALF-BROKE HORSE")

JEWELL: (Singing) They'll have to come and take us with the force of 10 trains 'cause it's no life worth living if we don't hold the reins.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.