The Tale Behind The Tune

Jealous of the Angels by Jenn Bostic

Jealous of the Angels by Jenn Bostic

“FEBRUARY 16TH, 1996, my dad was killed in a car accident. My brother Jeff and I were in the car with him on our way to school” – these two short sentences form the opening caption to Jenn Bostic’s video for Jealous of the Angels.

Composed by Jenn with Jimmy Fortune and Zach Runquist to help her make sense of the loss of her father at just 10 years of age, Jealous of the Angels has been covered by the likes of Donna Taggart, Katherine Jenkins and Nathan Carter and has helped thousands of people come to terms with losses of their own. This is something Jenn will never take for granted, as I discovered when I interviewed her for our Tale Behind The Tune feature.

ANDY: Hi Jenn. Now a lot of people here in the UK will know you for one particular song – Jealous of the Angels.

JENN: Yes, that song is very personal and very special to me. It’s about my dad who passed away in a car accident when I was 10 years old.

ANDY: It’s a song that a lot of people have heard and actually play at funerals and things like that. I know I lost one of my friends about three years ago and his daughters posted a link to Jealous of the Angels on Facebook on the eve of his funeral. It must be a very hard tune to talk about in some ways because it was borne out of such a sad event wasn’t it?

JENN: It was and you know it’s very interesting as you started talking about your friend, whose daughters shared the song and that’s just been something that has continued to surprise me because I think when I write songs like this, they are so deeply personal that I think how could anybody ever relate directly to it because I’ve got these very personal details within the song? But I have heard so many great songwriters say that the more personal you can write a song, the more universal it can become, the more specific it is and that has just been made so clear to me through this song.

ANDY: What can you remember about the writing of the song?

JENN: I wrote it with Jimmy Fortune and Zach Runquist and it was just something I needed to write, to do my own healing and it was such a beautiful session. I remember driving out to Jimmy Fortune’s house and it was pouring with rain and Zach had this idea of “around the throne” being part of the song. We talked about my story a little and I felt on my way over there, driving in the rain, that I hadn’t really done my due diligence to prepare for the session, to kind of get myself in that place of just bringing up those old feelings which we sometimes do to write the songs from the most authentic point of view. So I pulled into a parking lot and I pulled out my journal and I just started writing, and it was about six pages front and back of all the feelings I had had when the accident first happened and so many things that I had felt since then; so many moments that seemed to have a dark cloud over them because my dad wasn’t around to be a part of them.  I just wrote from my heart and I showed up at the writing session, very apologetic, and I said I don’t really have any great ideas but I did just write in my journal, can I just share some of these pages with you? So I started reading and within those pages was the line “I’m just jealous of the angels that are with my dad now” and I remember Jimmy saying “That’s our song”.

ANDY: And that’s how the song was born?

JENN: Yes. We did of course work in the line “around the throne tonight” as well and it’s just become this powerful song that is so much bigger than anything the three of us could take credit for. It’s been amazing to see what God’s done with the song. It has taken me around the world, it’s taken me on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry but it is so deeply personal for me and I am so honoured that other people have been able to connect with it and find comfort and healing through it as well.

There will be another angel
Around the throne tonight
Your love lives on inside of me
And I will hold on tight
It’s not my place to question
Only God knows why
I’m just jealous of the angels
Around the throne tonight

Lyrics from Jealous of the Angels by Jenn Bostic, Jimmy Fortune & Zachary Runquist
© Peermusic Publishing, BMG Rights Management, Fortune Publishing, LLC

ANDY: It was 15 years after you lost your dad that you wrote the song which is a long time I guess of you coming to terms with all sorts of things?

JENN: It was! A lot of time had passed and I had written a few songs about the accident but they never quite articulated my full feelings towards it all. So when I wrote this one with Jimmy and Zach, it felt like everything I needed to say finally came out. Songwriting was the therapy that got me through all of that. While I had written songs about boys or whatever else, from the time that I started writing until we wrote this song it still was just something that I tried to use as an outlet to figure out what those feelings I was trying to process were. And so when we finally wrote it, you know, it really allowed me to start moving on and start healing in a really serious way.

ANDY: Your dad’s influence is in your music too isn’t it? Your dad was a businessman but he was a very keen musician, a guitar player and piano player?

Jenn pictured with her father Jim Bostic who she lost when she was just 10 years old.

JENN: He was! Yes! I have many fond memories of standing around the piano or sitting around his guitar playing and there are actually little clips of that in the new music video for the song {Jenn has produced a new video of the song to coincide with the 25th anniversary of her father’s death}. I went through some old home videos and found these really beautiful moments that I got to share with everyone in honour of his memory. But yes, my dad loved to write songs and he always said that when he retired he would make an album. He and my mom actually dated long distance for a long time and I found a cassette tape of, I think it’s about six songs, 20 minutes long, and it’s just songs he had written for her and he would mail these cassette tapes to her in their long distance relationship and so it’s really sweet to sit down and listen to that and just hear these authentic, beautiful songs that were meant for her ears only. It wasn’t anything that he was trying to promote or sell, it was just the beauty and love of making music for someone, you know, expressing a love for them through song and so I really cling to those and I know that he instilled this love for music in me and started calling out the talent that he saw in both myself and my brother and yes, so he is definitely continuing to influence the music throughout the years.

ANDY: So what was clearly the worst day of your life, I would suspect, has been turned into a real hopeful tune as well because it’s really allowed people to process their own emotions when they are losing loved ones, parents, children, pets even. It’s a song that means so much to a lot of people. You’ve recorded it again, on the 25th anniversary of your father’s death, with the addition of a verse from Amazing Grace, with lyrics that are really meaningful aren’t they?

JENN: They are and that song was sung at my dad’s funeral and you know, so many times, people will connect to Jealous of the Angels which is such an honour and then…I’m not even sure what really inspired it that day. I would like to say the inspiration came from above but I, all of a sudden, just felt like I wanted to play part of that song and so I did. It was just kind of a spontaneous thing and it became part of the way I perform it live and I feel people connect to Jealous of the Angels but then as soon as Amazing Grace hits, everybody kind of has that moment with that song, no matter what walk of faith you are in, that song still kind of resonates for people and so it has been a beautiful way for me to just worship through this song but it’s just really beautiful to see how it just elevates the honour for someone who has passed away. 

ANDY: How important is your faith to you Jenn?

JENN: I use my faith so much in my life, I really press into it, you know we have a choice when bad things happen and I feel like there are many ways I could have taken this path and I feel like pouring my heart and soul into music and just to try to think that if the worst day of my life, as you say, could eventually bring a song into the world that would help others then, you know, that’s a purpose right there and so that’s what I try to press into. I’ve seen that vulnerability like when you share your heart with people and you share your story in the most real, authentic way, it gives them permission almost to share their own stories and so it’s been a really beautiful journey to see all of that.

Here is Jenn performing the original 2012 version of Jealous of the Angels:-

And here is Jenn performing the 2021 version of Jealous of the Angels. The song includes an additional verse from Amazing Grace and the video includes footage of Jenn with her late father:-

SONG DETAILS:

Title: Jealous of the Angels.
Performed by: Jenn Bostic
Composed by: Jenn Bostic, Zachary Runquist, Jimmy Fortune.
Original version released: 17 December 2012.
Taken from the album:
Jealous (2012/Jenn Bostic Music/JENBCD1)

For more information on Jenn Bostic and her music please visit jennbostic.com

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