Falling in Love With Jenny Lewis, A Primer
Jenny Lewis may be the most lovable female singer ever and I am here to prove it.
I fell in reckless, sparkling love with Jenny Lewis in high school. Faintly but surely, I heard a voice singing, “If ya wanna find yourself by travelin’ out west / or if you wanna find somebody else that’s better, go ahead,” sounding almost like a friend with both her palms on my shoulders. The music was wafting from my best friend’s cool, older sister’s room, and when I peeked in and asked who she was listening to, she replied, “Rilo Kiley, now shutthedoor.”
I immediately bought all four albums and listened to them on repeat. I scribbled Rilo Kiley lyrics on my binder, read every single article about them in SPIN magazine, and the year before they allegedly broke up, I saw them in concert. Jenny was wearing silver, glittery tights and a black leotard. After someone shouted, “PLAY ‘THE FRUG’,” she answered, in her adorable, chill SoCal voice, “Yeah, I just can’t perform that song anymore, dudes.” So she played “Silver Lining” instead, and golden confetti streamed from the ceiling.
Jenny Lewis is the original spirit guide of every over-thinker, every girl who accidentally cut her own bangs too short and too jagged, every guy who romanticized the West Coast and wore vintage Pumas. She is magic.
Jenny was born in Las Vegas and made her acting debut in a Jell-O commercial when she was 3, which means she has been in our collective ether since the early ’80s (and is now 38, though no one can believe it). This child-actor thing somehow only adds to her allure. Jenny was a precocious kid on Baywatch, The Golden Girls, and Roseanne. Maybe you remember her in Troop Beverly Hills? As Phyllis’ apprehensive daughter, Hannah, who just really wants her parents to get back together, Jenny is irresistible.
Check out Jenny in the most-‘90s-thing-ever, an interview with Teen Set, where she models her hat collection, shows off her calendars, jumps on her trampoline in a purple sweat suit and passionately informs us to care about our planet:
In 1998, Jenny and her friends Pierre De Reeder, Dave Rock, and Blake Sennett (who was her boyfriend at the time) formed my teenage dream team, Rilo Kiley. Fun fact? Jenny wanted to name the band “Love’s Way,” but the guys weren’t really into it.
Here is one of their first songs of off The Initial Friend called “Teenage Love Song.” If you haven’t heard it, you will thank me later:
Did you just fall in love some more? I don’t blame you. I listened to this song on repeat after my first real boyfriend dumped me in front of a Barnes & Noble.
After The Initial Friend came Take-Offs and Landings, The Execution of All Things, More Adventurous, and their final album Under the Blacklight. Jenny claims they never broke up; she told Buzzfeed that, “We never officially broke up. It was just: Blake [Sennett] made a statement in the press.” Blake told (now-defunct) Spinner magazine he “felt like there was a lot of deception, disloyalty, greed and things [he didn’t] really want to submit [himself] to.” This statement is not very lovable. While they may not have officially called it quits, they haven’t produced a new album since 2011. SAD FACE!
But FEAR NOT, Jenny Lewis fans, because this is when things get amazing. Jenny went out her own. In 2006, she recorded Rabbit Fur Coat with The Watson Twins, an album that was more country-femme (also gorgeous and crush-worthy). Have you listened to “You Are What You Love”? Because you need to, right now:
Then in 2008, she released her first completely solo album, Acid Tongue. It was a Wild West Jenny, a more experimental venture for her that explored drugs, isolation, and some mythology. “When Jack Killed Mom” (featuring our Zooey Deschanel!) is my favorite from that era:
For her next trick, Jenny and her boyfriend Johnny released a collaborative album, I’m Having Fun Now in 2010. This album is sweet and adorable and very fun.
Jenny also appeared in three Bright Eyes albums (Lifted or The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground), The Postal Service (in “We Will Become Silhouettes”). Her appearances are all rad.
In 2014, Jenny wrote the song “Completely not Me” with Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij for the GIRLS soundtrack. Then she created the score for Very Good Girls, starring Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen. Watch the trailer (which features one of Jenny’s new songs) here:
And lastly, Jenny Lewis’ latest, most magical and rainbow-rific album (her first in six years!), The Voyager, will be released July 29th, but you can watch the incredible music video here (yup, that’s Anne Hathaway, Kristen Stewart, and Brie Lardson in dude get-ups and mustaches!) :
At 14, I fell in love with Jenny Lewis for her proud girlhood roots; a decade later, I love her even more for her all-grown-up female empowered songs and self.
Jenny, if you want your cake, to eat it too, and have other people watch you while you eat it, go ahead.
Image: Paste Magazine