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Jewel’s “Hands” Makes Us Ponder About THIS Critical Part of Life

It is that time again, #SongLyricsSunday! This week’s prompt is “Ankles/Hands/Feet/Fingers/Toes/Wrists”. However, my pick also ties into last week’s prompt of making a choice. And this tune is very dear to my heart as it was one of my favorites growing up. This week’s song choice is “Hands” by American singer-songwriter and my birthday mate Jewel.

(This is part of #SongLyricsSunday, a weekly song lyrics prompt hosted by Jim at A Unique Title For Me. Anyone is free to join. The rules on how to join are at the bottom of this post)

The Story Behind Jewel’s “Hands”

Jewel is the third female songwriter I have featured this week (The other two were Norah Jones and Kate Bush), Jewel wrote “Hands” with veteran songwriter Patrick Leonard. This Michigan-born songwriter has written and produced for a lot of artists and bands. But, it is with Madonna‘s 80s and early 90s discography that made him well-known.

Patrick Leonard
Patrick Leonard

Jewel spoke about the story behind the song in 2002:

I had bad kidneys and really couldn’t afford medication and I kept getting sick and I kept missing work and I kept getting fired from new jobs. I really was never able to get back on my feet and it was during this time that I had a very brief career with shoplifting. It was food mostly and I justified it because of that although one day it looked as though it could escalate.

I was walking down the street and I saw a sundress in a store front window and I coveted it. I went in there and tried it on and thought about stealing it. I had the price tag in my hand and it was one of those moments in my life, like a lightening bolt struck me, it was $39.99 and I thought “when did I lose faith in myself? When did I start thinking that I can’t earn $40 for myself?” I was suddenly so insulted and realized I wasn’t cheating anybody except myself.

I left, I didn’t steal the dress, I quit shoplifting at that moment and started writing these lyrics, “If you watch what your hands are doing, you can see where your life is going to go.Whether they’re stealing or writing things are probably going to be two very different futures. So I wrote this song about that and my hands.


How Can We Apply the Message Behind “Hands” To Our Lives


The message that I get from “Hands” is a simple yet powerful one: “We have the power to make our own decisions”. Of course, Jewel wrote about her hands as she had struggled with shoplifting while she was poor. She could’ve taken the beautiful sundress off the rack and run away with it, but then that would lead her to jail. But that would be her choice, a choice she avoided as she put her hands to better use: writing songs.

Sometimes we make choices out on a whim, without thinking about the outcomes or other possibles. We always think that there is only one choice in certain moments of our lives. For example, when we think about to change our lives, we think about different choices on how to. However, we are defeated to change our lives as we are conditioned to think there is only one way of living life, according to society and the people surrounding us.

We need a certain type of phone or car because it is the only way to be cool or be liked by others. Or, we need to live a certain lifestyle or way of thinking because that is what our parents or society taught. We struggle on making choices because we don’t want to go against the grain and/or make our own choices because we are scared to get rejected, be a failure, and seen weird by others.

But, we all have the power to choose. We can choose to change our lives and make a different impact on our lives. Some choices are harder than others but we hope they are for the better. Overall, we all make the choice to change our lives: quitting our job, dedicating more time to self-care or our kids, eating healthy, and etc. What choices are you making today that will change (or is changing) your life?


Final Thoughts

There are many other themes that are found in Jewel’s “Hands”: poverty, surviving after a loss or disaster, being part of God’s body, and the importance of hope, kindness, and prayer. But the main theme is choices.

Listen to the song below and tell me what you think in the comments!

Trisha Yearwood covered the song a few years ago:

The Lyrics to Jewel’s “Hands”

If I could tell the world just one thing
It would be that we’re all OK
And not to worry ’cause worry is wasteful
And useless in times like these
I won’t be made useless
I won’t be idle with despair
I will gather myself around my faith
For light does the darkness most fear

My hands are small, I know
But they’re not yours, they are my own
But they’re not yours, they are my own
And I am never broken

Poverty stole your golden shoes
It didn’t steal your laughter
And heartache came to visit me
But I knew it wasn’t ever after
We’ll fight, not out of spite
For someone must stand up for what’s right
‘Cause where there’s a man who has no voice
There ours shall go singing

My hands are small I know
But they’re not yours, they are my own
But they’re not yours, they are my own
And I am never broken

In the end, only kindness matters
In the end, only kindness matters
I will get down on my knees, and I will pray
I will get down on my knees, and I will pray
I will get down on my knees, and I will pray

My hands are small, I know
But they’re not yours, they are my own
But they’re not yours, they are my own
And I am never broken

My hands are small, I know
But they’re not yours, they are my own
But they’re not yours, they are my own
And I am never broken
We are never broken

We are God’s eyes
God’s hands
God’s mind
We are God’s eyes
God’s hands
God’s heart
We are God’s eyes
We are God’s hands
We are God’s eyes

If you want to participate, here are the rules:

  • Post the lyrics to the song of your choice, whether it fits the theme or not.
  • Please try to include the songwriter(s) – it’s a good idea to give credit where credit is due.
  • Make sure you also credit the singer/band and if you desire you can provide a link to where you found the lyrics.
  • Link to the YouTube video, or pull it into your post so others can listen to the song.
  • Ping back to this post will eventually work, as long as you are being patient, but you can also place your link in the comments if you don’t like to wait.
  • Read at least one other person’s blog, so we can all share new and fantastic music and create amazing new blogging friends in the process.
  • Feel free to suggest future prompts.
  • Have fun and enjoy the music.

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Jewel's "Hands" Make Us Ponder About THIS Critical Part of Life

This Post Has 45 Comments

  1. Jim Adams

    This is really a beautiful song Amy, I liked both versions. I liked the story about her changing her mind about stealing the dress.

  2. Lisa Coleman

    Great post today Amy! Jewel’s story really is inspiring. That there can be a moment in time that one chooses one path over the other is quite powerful. If she had taken that dress, we may have never heard this song and Jewel’s life could have taken a different turn. The song is so beautiful and we would have been deprived.

  3. Jade Li

    I like the song origin story. The lyrics are good. I think Jewel is also from Michigan?

    1. aisasami

      Actually, she was born in Utah but raised in Alaska. Her grandfather was Yule Kilcher, the first recorded person to cross the Harding Icefield and an Alaska senator.

  4. Christine Bolton

    I thought about picking this song for today but I wasn’t aware of the backstory. Music saved her! Thanks for sharing it 🙂💕

  5. Holly

    I love Jewel. She was one of my favorite artists in high school. This is a great song.

  6. Cyndi Buchanan

    I absolutely loved Jewel when I was in high school. I wore this album out and listened to it over and over again.

  7. Joanna

    The story behind the lyrics is quite powerful, I never knew it. I know Jewel used to be very popular when I was a teen, but I was never such a big fan.

  8. Stephanie

    I remember this song! I don’t think I ever knew all of the lyrics, though, so didn’t get a lot of meaning out of it. But, I was in elementary school when it came out so I didn’t get the meaning of a lot of songs then!

  9. Neely

    I still love this song! It’s always been a favorite of mine

  10. Krysten Quiles

    I haven’t thought about this song in a long time and didn’t know the story behind it. Makes it all the more powerful! Thanks so much for sharing this with all of us!

  11. Serene Xi

    Jewel is the best. Thanks for reminding me of how much I like her music.

  12. Yemi King

    This is a very interesting post. I see the part of her lyrics where she speaks about her hands being her own like one would say you don’t know my life until you walk a day in my shoes!

  13. Dasha

    Great post! This is really inspiring. 🙂

  14. Kemi

    So glad that she had a moment of clarity and decided to turn her life around for the better.

  15. A Chronic Voice

    Thanks for this beautiful post and reminder. We always do have a choice, even if limited. Hopefully we choose to do a little thing to make our lives better, day by day.

  16. Raksha

    Wow that’s a great story behind the song. I love the lyrics too.

  17. Cristina Ioana

    Good message behind the Hands song. Love it. Had no idea she had such a turbulent period a while back.

  18. Kristine Nicole Alessandra

    The tune is very nice and calming. But the lyrics, oh my. That hit right in the heart. “In the end, only kindness matters.” So very true.

  19. Komal

    Her story and lyrics and to powerful. I had no idea about her background. It is eye opening.

  20. Joan

    Great post and such a lovely song. I do like Jewel and I agree with you that we have the power in our hands to get what we want. It’s how much you believe in yourself.

  21. Luna S

    I haven’t heard any of her music in quite some time, this makes me want to go listen to her again.

  22. All of Jewel’s music reminds me of being in high school. This song has such a powerful message!

  23. Jon Maldia

    I love Jewel. Thanks for this post.

  24. Candle

    I never knew the background behind the singer Jewel. The song definitely tells a story and also sends a message.

  25. Flossie McCowald

    Thanks for giving us the story of the deeper meaning behind this song. I admit, I’d never really paid attention to the lyrics, and certainly didn’t know the backstory – but wow! Powerful!

  26. Clarice

    I am a fan of Jewel and I love her songs. It has a nice message but had no idea about its backstory. Indeed, we have the power to make our own decisions. Heading to spotify now. 🙂

  27. Tamara J.

    She is one of my favorite female vocalists. I learned a lot from this post, awesome tribute.

  28. Lorita

    What a lovely song. Thanks for sharing.

  29. Christa

    This is a song I live but haven’t listened to in years. It’s such a beautiful song and I had no idea of the story behind it.

  30. Olufunke

    I have learnt a lot of lessons here today. Thank you.
    Truly sometimes we think we have only one choice and believe we can only do one thing a certain way or the only way approved by society. “We have the power to make our own decions.” I’m taking that with me today.

  31. Neil Alvin Nicerio

    Great article. I learned a lot from what you wrote. Thanks for sharing. I can’t wait for the next one.

  32. Di

    Wow I’ve listened to this song before so many times and not known the true meaning of the lyrics (I made my own, which were kind of similar). Thanks for sharing this, really makes you realize we are in charge of our own destiny!

  33. Sarah M

    I love this song. It has motivational lyrics and I agreed completely that worry is a waste of time. We need to handle our worries without getting panic.

  34. Amber Hurley

    Haven’t heard from Jewel in a long time. This is a beautiful touching song!

  35. Vasundhra

    Heart-warming. A song that we enjoy and might here passively has such a deep backstory. Makes you think about life, eh. Thank you for such a beautiful post! More power to you, girl. This was really moving… 🙏

  36. Elizabeth O

    What a beautiful story and song. I’m glad she was able to turn her life around and follow her dreams.

  37. Suman Doogar

    I haven’t heard about this song before but i will definitely listen to it as the backstory sounds so interesting.

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