Chasing down the Dawn: Life Stories


Stockholm, The Grand HotelOutside the canals are weeping, rising silentlybeyond their cement banks. Soundlessly, theyspill onto the sidewalk, like a frayed edge. Theground will freeze soon. The night is cold. I canfeel it reach my skin through the glass of mywindow. My pane. My lamp. My towels.Funny how every hotel room becomes my own.My home. If only for one night.

Welcome to a world set to the ever-changing rhythms of an artist's life.

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Stockholm, The Grand HotelOutside the canals are weeping, rising silentlybeyond their cement banks. Soundlessly, theyspill onto the sidewalk, like a frayed edge. Theground will freeze soon. The night is cold. I canfeel it reach my skin through the glass of mywindow. My pane. My lamp. My towels.Funny how every hotel room becomes my own.My home. If only for one night.

Welcome to a world set to the ever-changing rhythms of an artist's life.

Since childhood, Jewel has turned to her own short stories, vivid narratives, and starkly honest writings to revisit the past, chronicle the many characters she's encountered, and trace the intricate, unpredictable patterns of her days. In Chasing Down the Dawn, recording artist, actress, and bestselling author Jewel opens her intimate journals to create a vivid montage of the people, places, relationships, and passages that colored the life she came from and marked the last magical, turbulent, and ultimately transformational year.

Drawn from her remarkable chronicle of life on the road during the Spirit World Tour, this unforgettable collection of freeze-frames captures unusual images from Jewel's childhood in Alaska, her beginnings as a struggling artist, and her challenges as a daughter, sister, and woman. Jewel paints an unblinkingly honest picture of the exceptional journey that carried her to the world's stage.

Here, as if pulled from a stack of snapshots, are Jewel's moment-by-moment observations on life as she now lives it: the pleasure of sold-out performances and the pressures of her industry .. the sweetness of love and bitterness of loss ... friendship, freedom, and the small miracles we ourselves create. And herein a book that allows the reader a rare glimpse of life's turning points as if viewed from over the author's shoulder — are Jewel's deeply personal insights on the events that shaped her understanding: her parents' divorce, her experience of poverty, the healing of her difficult relationship with her father, and the development of her unique talent.

With the publication of her bestselling collection of poetry, A Night Without Armor, Jewel established herself as a light on the literary horizon. With acutely observed, elegantly written depictions of the musicians, lovers, bikers, strangers, celebrities, and characters that inhabit the singer/songwriter's world, illustrated with Jewel's own drawings and never-before-seen photographs from her family archives, Chasing Down the Dawn is more than a collection of vignettes, observations, and stories. It is a finely wrought mosaic in prose and poetry, set to the rhythms of life.

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Editorial Reviews

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Our Review
Since rocketing to stardom with her 1993 debut "Pieces of You," Jewel has proved herself a gifted and sensitive singer-songwriter, poet, and actress. Chasing Down the Dawn, Jewel's follow-up to her bestselling book of poetry A Night Without Armor, details the childhood of a girl from Alaska who would become a pop superstar and reveals through stories, journal entries, poems, and sketches the endless creativity of an artistic mind.

As multifaceted as its author is multitalented, Chasing Down the Dawn covers a lot of ground. It is organized loosely into chapters, some passages covering Jewel's early life. Jewel vividly describes growing up in the outdoors: riding horses and enjoying what nature had to offer in the breathtaking Alaskan landscape. A natural performer, Jewel also recounts her earliest gigs, traveling to remote villages in Alaska's northern interior to perform with her parents. Over the course of the narrative it becomes clear Jewel's parents were a constant source of support and encouragement for her creative aspirations.

Interspersed between sections that deal with Jewel's upbringing, family, and friends are passages that touch on her current fame and status as a pop superstar. In journal entries, Jewel offers a glimpse into life on the road: waking up unsure of what city she is in, signing autographs, performing onstage, worrying about and treating voice problems, and soaking up every minute of downtime. In poems, Jewel examines the life she has chosen and reflects on her own identity, which seems a dual identity at times. Drawings that smack of curiosity and self-awareness touch upon themes both serious and lighthearted.

Chasing Down the Dawn will strike a chord with younger fans anxious to hear more of this gifted artist's life story and her journey to fame. But it will also resonate with more mature readers as a chronicle of an artist's development and her pursuit of self-discovery. And Jewel's anecdotes about other celebrities she has met or performed with are sure to please everyone.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This highly personal collection of essays, anecdotes and spontaneous statements accompanied by sweet, primitive drawings deals with Jewel's atypical childhood in Alaska, her struggling-musician days and her eventually successful music career, characterized by constant touring and putting up with the consequences of fame. Similar to Jewel's bestselling book of poems (A Night Without Armor), this compendium of prose exhibits a clear, direct, purposefully poignant and, at times, indulgent writing style. Jewel recognizes artistic quality when she sees it and often brings up names and their associations (touring with Bob Dylan, thinking about Italo Calvino's "If" before taking the stage), perhaps in an attempt to connect with them, and to show her admiration. Certainly, Jewel has talent and integrity, and, when she abandons a self-conscious posture, she can offer insights that are fresh and luminescent ("For me, the real beauty of singing is learning to play the instrument I've been given"). Unfortunately, her descriptive writing suffers too frequently from a surfeit of sentiment ("Do I like the dream I've dreamed or have I begun to feel like a prisoner of the dream?"). Jewel's name will carry this book a long way--as will the catchy cover, an alluring photo of the poet/ writer on horseback. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
You've heard Jewel's music (her debut disc, Pieces of You, sold ten million copies). You've read her first [book of poetry], A Night Without Armor (it went into 15 printings). Now it's time to catch up on her poems, essays, and stories.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060192006
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/3/2000
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 7.37 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author


A bestselling writer of poetry and prose, Jewel is also an actress and performer. She has recorded four bestselling albums and also starred in Ang Lee's film Ride with the Devil. Her first book, A Night Without Armor, was a New York Times bestseller. She lives in California.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The matter has nothing to do
with position or place. There are
a million ways to lack courage,
whether you are rich or poor, and
just as many ways to be heroic. I
know that now.

On a Private Plane Headed to Minneapolis

It is nearly winter. Summer has passed so quickly. Summer is the best time to be in Alaska. I remember those lovely summer months and lazy days when the endless daylight beckoned us deep into the woods to lie on our backs and stare at the sky. Now it is cold and the hills will be covered in ice.

Winter could be challenging. The long, dark months confining us to our cabin. Our nerves growing raw from living elbow to elbow. Overnight, the coal stove would burn out, leaving the house to absorb the rock-hard cold of the frozen yard. I'd open my eyes to discover that the picture window that overlooked the meadows was covered in paisley patterns of frost. On particularly cold mornings I would wake to find my brothers sleeping soundly, a faint trace of white frost icing their eyelashes where the white puffs of their breath had condensed and settled.

There were fun times amid the chores and difficulties. A couple times a year we hitched our roan horse, Nikka, to the sleigh and tied jingle bells to the sideboards and my dad would drive us two miles through the snowy meadows to the road where we'd wait for the bus that would take us to school and town. We were the only kids, except for the Rainwaters maybe, who got driven to school in a jingle sleigh. The music of the bells filled my ears and all the empty valleys. On the way home my dad wouldpick us up on the sleigh with toboggans in tow, and he and the boys would make a mile-long toboggan run through meadow after meadow, ducking under the barbed-wire fences that separated pastures. I'd get to drive the horse and sleigh the whole way home in the dwindling daylight, while the others enjoyed sledding. Or if my dad drove, I would straddle the leather harnesses and ride Nikka bareback, nothing between me and the frosty tundra. The mountains white, with their glaciers spreading like frozen wings. The tall spruce trees covered in sugar, the meadows and mute fields, crosshatched with neat trails that the cows and horses followed religiously to water holes.

The bay was beautiful but eerie in the winter. So gray and smooth it looked like glass that would cut you just for looking at it. Sometimes it looked still and treacherous, yet at others windblown and whitecapped. Gazing at it chilled me to the bone. But here I am daydreaming.

There is a storm outside. I can see it through the airplane windows.

I am on a very nice private jet that Target sent to take me to do a show for them in Minneapolis. We are traveling at Mach .9, which is the closest to breaking the sound barrier a private aircraft can go, or some such thing. It's all very surreal. No one back home would believe it.

From the cockpit, the captain just informed me that we are eight miles above Colorado. Eight miles! There are flashes of lightning below. He has dimmed the cabin lights so I can better see the explosion of lights burst upward through the dense layers of black clouds, lighting up the night sky and all the stars.

From the ground the storm must be fierce and hard, but from up here it is a silent light show that erupts and dances as if it were performing for me alone.

Vaporous fingers of color begin to fan out on the horizon. Northern Lights! Way up here! I had no idea they had Northern Lights anywhere but in Alaska. For a minute it feels like I'm home, except I'm not staring out the window of a log cabin. I'm in a private plane traveling nearly the speed of sound somewhere high above the Rockies, on my way to sing one song before being whisked off again to the premiere of my first movie, Ride with the Devil, at the Toronto Film Festival.

This is different than I expected. It's not like savoring the simple pleasure of guiding a horse silently through the snow-padded fields back home. But I know now that the same awesome force that makes it possible for me to sail the night sky and witness such splendors as tonight ensures that I can return to the splendor of simplicity. And home.

It's all here. Always. Everywhere.

Country Hotel Outside of Liverpool

A bowl of bright fruit sits upon what I assume to be an antique table. Not that I'd know a true antique from a reproduction. Where I'm from it's hard to find anything more than, say, fifty years old. Unless you count the only true antiquities...the glaciers, mountains, and rugged valleys.

Europe has been mind-boggling. This continent has been inhabited by a modem civilization for centuries. One hundred years ago Alaska was home only to different tribes: Athabascan, Aleut, Tlinket; and perhaps the occasional pillaging explorer.

When I was young, like many in Alaska, I erroneously believed that all of Alaska's natives are Eskimo. But that's like saying all American Indians are Cherokee. There are many proud and distinct tribes — all over Alaska.

When I was seven, I went on tour with my parents to several villages in the Northern interior. I remember flying in bumpy, single-engine planes low over frozen tundra, landing near a cluster of small buildings. I vividly recall being taken by dogsled to the cabin of the family that would be our host for that evening in that village. The dogs-blue-eyed huskies — were excited and yipping, their pink tongues steaming in the cold. They would drown you in licks if you let them...

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2002

    Jewel's Writing Ability Shines Again; This Time In Her Own Personal Life Storie

    I don't feel the need to describe how great of a person Jewel is through her singing and songwriting successes because this is a review on her book, Chasing Down The Down. After reading this book, a warm comfort fell over me. Clevery put together, the book holds poetry, short stories, photography, and art work by the beautiful Jewel. Jewel, known for not letting her personal life interupt with the media, opens her heart in a a more sensible way, by telling her stories as they happened. She makes us laugh with stories of her mistakes, makes us cry with stories of those she lost and what she lost in life. She makes us wander what we would do in the same situations, and makes us have a sense of relief as to how to look at life. Jewel's writing ability shines through well choreographed stories about her life like no one better could describe. Jewel's book shines, as does she! * * * * *

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2001

    Jewel Opens Doors to Readers and Critics Alike

    While reading Chasing Down the Dawn, I discovered the purpose of the book. Though Jewel captures readers with her honesty and intuition, her primary goal did not consist of 'reaching' people on an inspirational level. Jewel wanted to use her everyday release, writing, as a means of explaining her side of the story to anyone who cared to read about it. Finally, the artist had the chance to relate to fans through her most personal resource. However, she seemed to get caught up in the book, coming off as condscending at times. Jewel states that she knows she has much to learn, but she fails to prove it in her excerpts of writing. Though this aritst definitely took a risk by publishing private thoughts, she opened up her mind to criticism--a surprising action for someone who appears to value her privacy so greatly. I still admire the woman for all she has come to, and I enjoyed the book; I hope Jewel does not look back and regret having subjected her contemplations to blatant, and sometimes cruel critics.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2001

    Jewel is she still with us.

    I am a Jewel fan, but this book was not worth the money. To me there was more attention on her cowboy Ty Murray(who likes the fame she brings him) than there is on anything else. Her last book lifted me up I laughed thru this book. I have read past articles about her and her life in alaska, parts of this book conflicts with other things she has said. The pictures some were ok, but get real do we want to see a picture of her boyfriend on a horse,from the waste down, or a picture of a horses mane from the angle of being on the horse. Jewel needs to go back to here beginnings and remember what made her a star. From the low sales from this book Jewel probley got the message that she is a has been.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2001

    This book literally changed my life!

    I am a poet/singer/songwriter also. I'm just 16 and I live in Alabama. I don't know if it's because I'm young or where I live, but I can't think of things to write about because I haven't had the right experiences, I guess.I have day to day battles with myself with how I feel about my music, looks, weight, and religon. Everytime I turn on the T.V. I see girls that are drop-dead gorgeous, half-naked, singing a song they didn't write, and selling 3 million records when their album debuts. All I have ever wanted to be was someone famous so I would never have to worry about money. My producer is constantly telling me to 'write hits'. And I feel so pressured to get thinner, prettier, and sexier like most of the artist out there today. I've always been a fan of hers, but when I read this book...her honesty made me cry. She made me realize that it's not all about money,looks, or fame. It's about doing what you love to do and using your life as a vessel of hope to help other people.I would give anything for a chance to thank her for all she's given me. For the first time in my life, I'm happy with who I am, and it's all thanks to her and this book. Even if you aren't trying to be famous, her book will open your eyes to the real person behind the music. Your ideas about yourself and other people may change, and you'll appreciate your life and what you've been through, because it all happened that way for a reason, and she made me believe that.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2000

    jewel fills my void

    the eternal blackness of my pale, lifeless heart. the squalar, the pain, has been quenched by the words of my own personal diamond, jewel. the emptiness, the numbness of my soul has been erased, pocketed into a garbage bag. take out my trash, please.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2000

    Jewel Glitters

    Jewel glitters as she reveals a little more about her inner-self. This collection of short stories and anecdotes keeps the reader entertained as she reveals her down-to-earth characteristics. It also contains stories of inspiration.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2000

    The perfect example of her own true feeings

    This is jewel at her most intaminet. Reveling things in her journal and photos from her personal archives and after reading this you'll understand her heartahces, her triumps, and what makes her and us human.(What we call human nature in actuality human habit. Jewel).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2000

    Chasing the dawn - done it all my life

    Beauty and brain blends an excellent collection of human thoughts, artisticly weaved together in a language that touches deep. all the best to the poet.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2000

    A grabbing book!

    This book was okay it told me who Jewel really was and her personality. I understand her songs more and i actually got help for some of my school work. It was great.

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