Often times when a friend, family member or co-worker tells you that they are a fan of a particular musician, it makes sense. The musician or their music seems to line up with that person's personality. But when Sound Effect producer Kevin Kniestedt shared his feelings for a particular folk singer who has captured his heart for almost a couple of decades now it was a bit of a surprise. He shares this audio fan letter.
My name is Kevin Kniestedt, I’m 38 years old, I live in Seattle, and I am your biggest fan.
Close to twenty years ago, I fell in love for the first time. She was a little shy, maybe a tad awkward, and had a bit of a tough outer shell. We didn’t have a lot of money to go out and do things, so our nights together typically led us to a marina. We’d watch the water, look at the boats, and create personas for the people that we imagined lived in the fancy condos with the million dollar views of the Sound.
Exactly how you ended up there, I can’t recall, but you were there. I have to be honest, back then, your music wasn’t really my cup of tea. It was more likely that you’d catch me listening to Puff Daddy, or Jimmy Buffett, or Dave Matthews...or pretty much anything that wasn’t Jewel. But at some point, a copy of your first album, Pieces of You, made it into my car CD player. And for some reason or another, it stayed in there, and played almost every night.
There are only so many conversations you can have about imaginary marina residents before long periods of silence set in. And there you were, to fill those gaps with your music. And the more we listened to your lyrics, the more you became a part of those nights.
The night I fell in love with her, you, of course, were playing in the car. We were sitting there, watching the water, and she started to cry. For whatever reason, that tough outer shell had been pierced. She told me about a family member that she was really close to who had passed away far too young, and that she hadn’t known how to talk to anybody about the impact that it had on her. It was the first time I had ever felt like someone had trusted me enough to be that vulnerable.
This led to other nights where she shared her struggles with depression, and it was the first time I had ever thought that I might need to pay closer attention to my own mental health. And you were there.
A couple years down the road, when she left me, you were there too.
And as days past, and those long nights got a little shorter and easier, you were there too. When I got my wisdom teeth pulled, I watched the Jewel: Live at Humphrey's By The Bay DVD. When your Christmas album came out, you helped me enjoy the holidays. I watched you sing in the rain at Memorial Stadium, and in the sun at the Gorge. I was the tall guy in the crowd, towering over a sea of mostly much shorter women, just in case you were curious.
I caught up with the ex a handful of years ago, and made mention that I wanted to see you in concert.
“You still listen to her?” she asked.
I told her that I did...told her about my memories of the marina, and her opening up to me, and how I felt like you were part of the conversation.
“Huh,” she said. “I never really saw like that at all. Not at all.”
Part of me was surprised by this, that she didn’t look back at that time the same way I did. But I also felt a little relieved. If there was one fear I always had from listening to your music for all of these years, it was that deep, deep down, it was my way of holding on to the past...that I wanted you and your music to matter as much to her as you did to me, and that would somehow validate the relationship from so many years ago.
But when I heard her say that, I felt vindicated that you weren’t a lingering soundtrack to a broken heart, but a friend I had made that could be easily accessed whenever I needed you, or just wanted to say hello again, regardless of what anyone else thought. No matter how much time went by, you were always nearby like any old friend, you always seemed to look out for me, and always seemed to know just what to say.