“Hands”

“Hands”

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story Behind the Song

Jewel
“Hands”

Written by Jewel Kilcher and Patrick Leonard
Recorded by Jewel

I wrote the lyrics to this song when I was 18 and homeless. I had been living in a place I was renting and had a job at a computer warehouse where I answered phones. I had no money at all and was living paycheck to paycheck and still didn’t have money for food. My boss propositioned me and when I wouldn’t agree, he withheld my paycheck and wouldn’t even acknowledge me when I went to his office and asked for it. My landlord was nice, but said that if he didn’t get paid he would have to kick me out, which he did soon after.

I thought I would sleep in my car until I could get another job. I got really sick with kidney problems and got infections because I couldn’t afford medications or doctors. When I tried to go to the emergency room, I almost died in my car in the parking lot because they turned me away since I had no insurance. One nice doctor saw me and helped me and even got me the medicine I needed.

I’m not proud of this, but I was so broke that I shoplifted. The only thing I took was food — carrots and peanut butter. I couldn’t keep a job because I kept getting sick. Then the car I was living in got stolen.

I was walking by a store window and saw a dress I really wanted. I remember it was $39. I’d never taken anything like that before and when I even considered it, I realized that I must have lost all faith in myself if I didn’t think I would be able to afford $39! I knew then that I had to regain self-confidence. That’s when I wrote the lyrics to this song.

If I could tell the world just one thing

It would be, we’re all okay

And not to worry

’Cause worry is wasteful and useless

In times like these.

Life is a calcification of your thoughts. I was watching what my hands were doing. Are they opening or closing doors? Are they shoplifting or writing songs?

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.

I knew that even though I felt powerless, there was hope and I couldn’t and wouldn’t give up.

Poverty stole your golden shoes

But it didn’t steal your laughter

And heartache came to visit me

But I knew it wasn’t ever after.

Years later, things turned around and this song became a hit from my second album. My husband and I went camping in the mountains in northern California and as we were coming back down, we noticed an American flag at half mast. We thought a fireman may have perished because fires are not uncommon there. As we came further down, there were more flags at half mast. Finally, the radio worked and we learned that the twin towers had come down. It was surreal. Then we heard the DJ dedicate “Hands,” a song I’d written at 18 at a dark time in my life, to America. It was an unbelievable experience.

You have to keep fighting for what you believe in.

“Hands”

If I could tell the world just one thing

It would be, we’re all okay

And not to worry

’Cause worry is wasteful and useless

In times like these.

I won’t be made useless

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

But 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 heart

We are God’s eyes

God’s hands

God’s heart

We are God’s eyes

God’s hands

God’s eyes

We are God’s hands

Lyrics by Jewel Kilcher. Music by Jewel Kilcher and Patrick Leonard. © 1998 EMI April Music Inc., Bumyamaki Music and Wiggly Tooth Music

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