The Jenny Lewis Guide to Growing Up


There’s this part in You’ve Got Mail where Tom Hanks’ character introduces a theory: Godfather quotes are applicable to any situation in life. Meg Ryan’s character bemoans the notion’s masculinity, claiming men obsess grossly over the mob film. But she goes with it anyway, learning a thing or two about business and the male mind simultaneously.

Of course, ladies also have cultural touchstones clearly intended for them: entire networks devoted to romance flicks, smut novels like 50 Shades of Grey, pop stars playing the relatable gal-pal on the cover of Cosmo. Many obvious forms of “women’s entertainment” are simplistic portraits of gender roles, so much so that when something true-to-life AND female-targeted catches on in the mainstream — be it Bridesmaids or Broad City  it’s often heralded as subversive.

There are, however, female role models hiding in the shadows, even if they don’t always get the mass idolatry they deserve. Enter Jenny Lewis, former child star, ex-Rilo Kiley frontwoman, Postal Service/Bright Eyes/Dntel collaborator, one half of Jenny and Johnny (with her beau Johnathan Rice), and fearless solo singer-songwriter. This week, Lewis releases her third solo album, The Voyager, on which she tackles the loss of her estranged father, her biological clock, marital pressure, and feeling comfortable in her own skin. We talked to Jenny about the album last month, at which point she proved why she remains indie rock’s ultimate girl-crush.

At 38, Jenny Lewis has qualified as an adult for quite some time now, but as her fans know, every bit of maturation she’s done over the years has been chronicled in her confessional, mostly pessimistic anthems. Ten albums in total comprise her discography, all of them filled with real talk for growing up female. Using the lyrics from 24 of her songs, we’ve put together The Jenny Lewis Guide To Life. It’s broken down into 12 topics women often grapple with when growing up:

– Daddy Issues
– Looks/Self-Esteem
– Questioning Religion/What Happens When We Die
– Battling Depression/Demons
– Work/”Adulthood”
– Love (Happy-ish)
– Love (Bummer)
– Infidelity
– Marriage
– Chasing the American Dream
– Domestic Abuse
– Parenthood

And there’s also a Spotify playlist of (almost all) the songs. Now let’s get started.