JoJo Confronts Addiction in Cathartic ‘Save My Soul’ Video, Directed by Zelda Williams
JoJo has had an incredibly turbulent past few months, from the high of releasing her major label "tringle" debut III after nearly a decade of label battles and legal squabbles to the death of her father, Joel Levesque, in November.
Today, on what would have been her father's 61st birthday, the powerhouse singer has unveiled the video for her agonizing "Save My Soul" — the most emotionally cutting song on III, and the last one to receive a visual. The clip was directed by Zelda Williams, who is not only the daughter of the late Robin Williams, but one of JoJo's closest friends.
"We filmed this video about a month before my father lost his decades long battle with addiction," JoJo explains in a note released alongside the video.
"His death honestly felt like it came out of nowhere…and yet I had been mourning him for years…if that makes any sense. I know all too well from seeing it around me that the fight is not easy. It's every day. All consuming. I'm not mad at my dad. I love him and I'm sad. He is my greatest heartbreak. This song, which had always been personal to me, takes on even deeper meaning now."
The accompany visual, shot in Joshua Tree in California, sees JoJo, Zelda and a crew of creative friends sitting on a therapist's couch in the middle of the desert, each silently confessing their stories and expressing themselves in what appears to be an emotional group therapy session. "It was a safe space to be vulnerable and free from judgment and the need to be/ look/ act 'perfect'. Everyone who participated connected to the song and brought their truth to the table," Jo explains.
"It’s not even our shared experiences with addiction and loved ones who suffered from them, though that is the very real inspiration behind this song and video…In the end, the thing I am most grateful for is the trust Jo had in me to help her tell a story I know has been percolating in her for a very, very long time," Zelda says of her directorial debut.
No doubt this one hit very close to home for everyone involved — and will likely strike a chord for some watching at home as well.
Check out the video above, and read notes from both JoJo and Zelda Williams about the "Save My Soul" experience below.
“Save My Soul” is about addiction. Of all kinds. I wanted to convey the feeling of powerlessness I've felt in my life in an uncomplicated way and show a range of what it might look like for others who've been there. Working with one of my best friends, Zelda Williams (director of SMS), was a highlight of my 2015. We'd been talking about working together for like 10 years! Because of the content of the song and the way it touched us both, “Save My Soul” felt like the natural place for us to finally collaborate.
A group of us young, crazy, creatives drove out to the magical desert of Joshua Tree and got naked - most of us emotionally, and a few literally. It was a safe space to be vulnerable and free from judgment and the need to be/ look/ act "perfect". Everyone who participated connected to the song and brought their truth to the table.
We filmed this video about a month before my father lost his decades long battle with addiction. His death honestly felt like it came out of nowhere…and yet I had been mourning him for years…if that makes any sense. I know all too well from seeing it around me that the fight is not easy. It's every day. All consuming. I'm not mad at my dad. I love him and I'm sad. He is my greatest heartbreak. This song, which had always been personal to me, takes on even deeper meaning now. "I try to run but it hurts every time I try... Lord I try and I can't say no." Makes me think of the universal struggle of seeking victory over the feeling of powerlessness to a situation, a lover, a drug.
Losing my father at the end of last year and knowing the propensity for addiction of all kinds that runs deep in my blood from both sides makes it next-level important for me to LIVE - not just be alive, but THRIVE in his honor. I can do this. And so can you. If you're struggling, believe the only way OUT is THROUGH. Keep going.
P.S. Thank you to the beautiful crazies who dedicated their time and energy to come together and make this video possible. It wouldn't have happened without you.
To say the ‘Save My Soul’ video means a lot to me would be an understatement of stupendous proportions. It’s not just that Jo and I have been wanting to collaborate for most of the 10 years we’ve been friends, though that’s certainly an important part of it… nor is it the terrifying fact that this was my first turn getting to direct, an honor and responsibility I’m still shocked the ‘grownups’ let me do. It’s not even our shared experiences with addiction and loved ones who suffered from them, though that is the very real inspiration behind this song and video…
In the end, the thing I am most grateful for is the trust Jo had in me to help her tell a story I know has been percolating in her for a very, very long time.
Save My Soul is Jo’s very real, very honest ode to addiction, and in her expressing her truth, I wanted to give others the opportunity to do the same. So, because I like to make things interesting (and arguably difficult), I decided to drag a therapist’s couch into the middle of Joshua Tree and make our wonderful band of misfit friends sit on it, Jo and I included! No, you don’t get to hear their truths, that’s my responsibility alone, but the courage it took Jojo to sing this song deserved courage in return, and each of them delivered on that a hundred fold. I wanted the real, beautiful emotions of people we both know and love to be the instruments that played alongside Jo, and that’s exactly what I got.
That couch looks like an island in the middle of the desert for a reason, because I know how isolating it can be to try to express yourself. Showing emotions in a world that seems averse to them can be scary, and more often than not it feels as though you’re the only person on the planet going thru it! But I promise you, for everyone who doesn’t understand, there are others out there who will, others who may be comforted to know they’re not the only ones. Everyone’s got a story, whether you’ve heard it or not. I’m grateful Jo let me help her tell hers. Hopefully, it’s only the first of many, many more to come.
Jojo - I’ve said it before, but I’ll happily say it again; I’m so grateful to have spent 10 incredible years as your friend hunny. I watched as you spent the lion’s share of the time we’ve been friends being told you could not do the one thing the entire world, myself included, knew you were born to do, and still, you soldiered on and never gave up on finding a way. To be able to take part in your return into an industry that never should’ve been without you is an absolute honor and a pleasure, one I can’t wait to look back on when we’re wrinkly old farts on a porch somewhere, laughing about our rowdy younger days. But not yet. We have so many more adventures to go on and things then.
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