We talk a lot about Sean Penn around these parts, because Sean Penn is human garbage who is horrifically abusive and— more recently— litigious when it comes to his own horrificness. If there were a world where Sean Penn didn’t exist, or at the very least was banned from talking to let alone courting or dating or touching any woman ever… well, that’s the world I want to live in.
So I’m going to give you all a trigger warning for gagging brought on by stories of your childhood loves (or maybe just human women— I don’t know how you spent the ’90s) being romanced by garbage monsters masquerading as movie stars. Because 20 years after releasing Pieces of You, that major corner piece to the heart puzzle of teenage 90s girls, Jewel has come out with her autobiography, Never Broken. And it is f*cking nuts.
There have been rumors and whispers for years of Sean Penn having “discovered” Jewel, but in her book, Jewel reveals that while Penn may not have made her a thing, he definitely tried to make her HIS thing. In 1995, months before Pieces of You came out, Jewel had her first-ever TV appearance, on Conan O’Bien. Apparently that performance caught the eye of Penn, who called her father (sure) in Anchorage. Like most of us would be, Jewel’s father hung up on him (because he thought it was a prank, though, not because he didn’t want to talk to a violent monster human). Penn did call back, and convinced her dad who he was.
He had seen me on Conan and was working on a movie he’d written called The Crossing Guard. He wanted me to compose a song for it. I told him I would and he said he would meet me anywhere to screen the movie, I could name the day. I gave him my cell number and figured I would never hear from him again.
The two ended up meeting at a San Diego salon where Jewel was getting her hair cut. She wrote that song for his movie— here it is, by the way, in case you wanted to have a Jewel song ruined for you forever by now having it associated with Sean Penn:
That year she also accompanied him to the Venice Film Festival.
Sean would whisper in my ear and explain everyone’s backstory to me. It was not my world and I was pretty sure it never would be. Sean took me to see the sights in Montartre and wrote me in notes that he hid in my pockets… I enjoyed Sean and would eventually fall in love.
*GAG* Sorry, moving on.
According to Jewel, he “sincerely believed” in her music and the two started dating. Sort of.
We spoke on the phone a lot and he was a fantastic flirt and I did not mind one bit. But I was no fool and knew I was most likely a trifle to him. I intended to give him no such conquest. I put that man through his paces and he took it in stride. He began to court me in earnest, following me around on tour, acting as my de facto roadie… I moved very slowly with him but he was a persistent and inventive suitor, and I enjoyed it immensely. I kept our burgeoning relationship very quiet. I was determined not to be ‘discovered’ because I was dating someone in the public eye. I liked his mind, and I had fun sparring with him.Given Penn’s violent past, I’m just going to ignore that poor choice of words and move onto the part where Jewel told Sean Penn he couldn’t drink anymore while sitting at a dive bar.
I liked his mind sober, and had fun playing this way. When I told him this in all seriousness, in a dive bar after a sound check, he responded with a melancholy stare and then canary-eating grin and said it would be impossible not to fall in love with me. I looked at him to see if he was serious. It seemed he was.This all happened in 1995. In ‘96, Penn got back together with and married Robin Wright. While Jewel says losing him was difficult, it’s hard for the rest of us, looking in from the outside 20 years later, not to see this as a major bullet dodged. Jewel didn’t have to date Sean Penn anymore, and Sean Penn didn’t get to date Jewel. I think there’s a clear winner in this story.