Jewel wrote this when she was 16. She traveled a lot in those days, and took a trip to Mexico where she hitchhiked around the country. She was amazed to see how many people looked like they were waiting for someone to save them. She told Entertainment Weekly: "I started street-singing along the way, and that's when 'Who Will Save Your Soul' came. I didn't know any chords - I played the same four over and over and just started improvising lyrics. I sang and gave foot rubs to tourists at the docks in Cabo, and hitchhiked without being murdered or raped. I always carried my little skinning knife. It wasn't little, actually. It was a pretty big knife."
This was Jewel's first single. It was first released in 1994, and took a long time to find an audience. Two years later, as female singer/songwriters like Sheryl Crow, Sara McLachlan, and Alanis Morissette became very popular, radio stations started adding the song to their playlists, and it was re-released as a single. This time, it became a hit, peaking at #11 in August 1996, 18 months after the Pieces Of You album was issued.
Geoff Moore directed the music video, which was shot in a bathroom at Los Angeles City Hall. Jewel regards restrooms as sanctuaries. She told Entertainment Weekly: "I grew up outdoors and in nature, and I found the only place in cities I could be alone was the bathroom."
Moore recruited his friends to play the characters in the video, including the drag queen, who was My Fair Lady actor Rex Harrison's grandson.
Most of the album was recorded at Neil Young's Broken Arrow Ranch in Redwood City, California. Ben Keith, who produced Pieces of You, is known as a pedal steel guitarist in Young's band, and a co-producer for the album Harvest Moon, which was a favorite of Jewel's.
The music video was nominated for Best Female Video at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1996, but lost to Alanis Morissette's "Ironic
This earned Jewel a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1997, but Toni Braxton won for "Un-Break My Heart
This was featured on the 2006 Gilmore Girls episode "The Great Stink."