A couple of minutes into the show at The Basement in Nashville a few months ago where we first experienced Steve Poltz made it clear that we were seeing something wonderful and rare. It was spooky how he seemed to be so peculiarly alive. He was and is a very present person and artist, very in the moment. It's always been inspiring to me to see someone interact with a crowd in a way that's not rehearsed or rehashed, but a real communication. It's an art reserved for smaller venues, of course, and a crowded 100-seater is the place that Steve Poltz most likes to be.

His life reads like the dream script for the gypsy songwriter. Hanging out in Mexico with your beautiful blonde girlfriend, writing songs and traveling. One song, instead of getting the usual treatment of a bizarre left turn or a few too strange words, is left to be just a nice love song, at the girlfriend's request. It blows out the window at one point, and she insists that it be retrieved before it goes into the water, even though he doesn't think it's anything special. Only, in this particular scenario, the girlfriend turns out to become Jewel, and the song that nearly ended up in the drink turns out to be a global smash called "You Were Meant For Me" that changes both of their lives forever.

These days, Steve Poltz and Jewel are just, but still, friends, and when we saw the show that night in Nashville, she actually joined him onstage for that incredible story and a few songs. We'll have some clips of that performance and the duets at the end of the conversation to come.

Although that song made enough dough for Poltz never to have to write a song again, he lives for that process, and doesn't seem to care much about money or the so-called good life at all. He's had the same apartment in the San Diego area for 18 years, has a VW Euro van, and spends all his time writing songs and traveling the world, doing shows in people's living rooms and in clubs. He plays the hell out of the guitar and is that rare beast in acoustic circles called an entertainer. We were remarkably impressed by the man at the show that night, but even more so in the phone conversation a month or so later. It's only February, but he's certainly a strong candidate for our song man of the year. His new record, Traveling, needs to be on your player. Get it, it's good for your soul.

Traveling cover    

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