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Patti Scialfa: From E Street to '23rd Street'

Patti Scialfa's 23rd Street Lullaby
Patti Scialfa's 23rd Street Lullaby

Singer Patti Scialfa's new CD was a long time coming -- her previous solo release was in 1993. But she says husband Bruce Springsteen offered this encouragement: "The record will tell you when it's complete."

Still, it's a fine line between giving advice and bossing your spouse around. Scialfa, who joined Springsteen's E Street Band in 1984, needed an opening song for the album. So she turned to the fellow musician in the family.

"He said, 'You should write something like 'New York City Lullaby,'" Scialfa tells NPR's Renee Montagne. "He just came right up with that. And I got... mad because now he's telling me what to do," Scialfa says with a chuckle. They argued about it for weeks -- she thought New York City was too broad a subject -- but Scialfa eventually narrowed the focus a bit by calling the song -- and the CD -- 23rd Street Lullaby.

With titles including "You Can't Go Back," "Each Other's Medicine," "Romeo" and "Young in the City," Scialfa's songs combine autobiographical elements with imaginary ones. "I like to start with something I feel very close to and very emotionally true about," she says. "And as long as I have that as a core inspiration, then you can add your fiction on top of it..."

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