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LIANE HANSEN, host:

Singer and songwriter Patti Scialfa's new album is a collection of songs that focus on the long-term, enduring relationship and the terrain that couples cover over the years together. The CD is called "Play It as It Lays."

(Soundbite of song "Play It as It Lays")

Ms. PATTI SCIALFA (Singer): (Singing) Will you pay for the broken hearted? Get back up and get it started again. We'll play for the broken hearted. Say your prayer for the broken hearted. Say your prayer for love. The years go by, you add them up. Some days are holy, some the days are rough but that's all right.

HANSEN: The title cut of "Play It As It Lays" includes a plenty of accompaniment on Hammond B-3 organ way in the background. It's played by Patti Scialfa's husband of 16 years, Bruce Springsteen. Patti Scialfa joins us from their studio in New Jersey.

Patti, thanks so much for joining us and welcome to the program.

Ms. SCIALFA: Thank you, Liane. Thank you for having me.

HANSEN: "Play It As It Lays," I think a lot of people recognize it as the title of a piece that Joan Didion wrote. And here you are, playing this rather laid back ballad with the title, does Joan Didion have anything to do with it?

Ms. SCIALFA: Well, first of all, I'm a big fan of Joan Didion's writing. But if you look at the idea this record was to go into the complexities of a long-term relationship. You know, I was a child of the '50s. It was at that - there was the idea that love is a simplistic promise of completion, right, that you going to find the missing half, your lost twin, your soul mate.

I don't think that you can look for something external to really complete you that way. It can make you more than what you are and spiritually - what I was going to say is in a spiritual way, I feel that my marriage has really broadened me and certainly given me a sense of some completion but that you can't really look for that. And if you're looking for that, you're going to be disappointed.

(Soundbite of song "Play It As It Lays")

Ms. SCIALFA: (Singing) I'm just going, play it as it lays. Play it as…

And so that idea that somebody is perfect and is going to complete you, I think is a young romantic notion. Not that I'm against romance. I love romance. But it's too simplistic. And the idea that go into the natural conflicts of a long-standing relationship and see what they are and trying to dismantle them or shine a little on them for yourself so you're a little freer. And you free yourself of cliches of men and women and the things that can come and weigh down a relationship. You know, you just want to go in and clear them up. Sweep out the garage, you know?

(Soundbite of song "Like Any Woman Would")

Ms. SCIALFA: (Singing) Baby, daddy tell what do you see when you open up your eyes and take a look at me. Mother, brother, sister, lover, wife, or friend, a confidante, an angel or just a fool in the end. I was thinking of books and poems that I have read in the bell jar what she meant and what she said. Was it all just written down in blood and lead. Sometimes…

HANSEN: You had literary references. Can I ask whether - yeah, well, can I ask whether Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar" happened to be opened on your desk?

Ms. SCIALFA: Well, it's funny because as I was making the record, I was - I knew I was writing a real woman's record. And I was trying to - in that song - I think that's from my song "Like Any Women Would."

HANSEN: Yeah.

Ms. SCIALFA: Right. I was trying to bring a references that were very classic and - but also could a little toe-in-cheek, you know? And with "The Bell Jar" is it all just written down in blood and lead, that idea of a fatalistic point of view, which I find very compelling.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Do you, as a woman, do you find that compelling?

Ms. SCIALFA: I think as an artist, I find it compelling.

HANSEN: Interesting.

Ms. SCIALFA: It's just - there's just more in there.

HANSEN: Yeah. Wonderful images of women, although Sylvia's a little bit depressing there. But, you know, when she…

Ms. SCIALFA: Yeah. But she's so good.

HANSEN: Exactly. That's what I was going to say. It's - she outlasted herself.

(Soundbite of song "Like Any Woman Would")

Ms. SCIALFA: (Singing) Ease a burden, woman. You just hate it 'cause it makes you want to cry, cry, cry.

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Cry, cry, cry.

Ms. SCIALFA: (Singing) 'Cause it makes you want to…

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Cry, cry, cry.

Ms. SCIALFA: (Singing) Cry, cry, cry. 'Cause it makes you want to…

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Cry, cry, cry.

Ms. SCIALFA: (Singing) Cry, cry, cry, cry, oh, like any woman would.

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Doolang, doolang, doolang, doolang, doolang.

HANSEN: Using those references in the song "Like Any Woman Would" also brings up a time when women really didn't have a lot of power in the rock and roll…

Ms. SCIALFA: No.

HANSEN: …in the music industry. And, you know, you've got the doolang-doolang-doolangs of the Chiffon's. And it just brings back that era which you're of an age to have listened to at least.

Ms. SCIALFA: Oh, I did. Doolang-doolang and I heard that on the radio in the Chiffon's "He's So Fine." I heard that on a transistor radio that I held it in my hand when I was on the bicycle, when we used to go out and just ride around the neighborhood all day. I was probably eight or nine. That was my introduction into the dream of music, that music could take you some place else and it was another world rich, I don't know, rich with emotion and it just lit that match, you know, that little candle that's too young to be lit and you reach a certain and it starts getting lit.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SCIALFA: That's what that was for me.

(Soundbite of song "Run, Run, Run")

Ms. SCIALFA: (Singing) Shirley Muldowney, when you left my man, singing down the road with fistful of flames. On the minds of devil, hands of paradise, under the cold heart blood of making amazing(ph) lights. Run, run, run, yeah. Run, run, run, yeah. Run, run, run.

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Run, run, run, yeah. Run, run, run, yeah. Run, run, run.

HANSEN: You even got a kind of a drag strip song in here. I mean, "Run, Run, Run." Come on.

Ms. SCIALFA: Shirley Muldowney, yeah.

HANSEN: You are really a Jersey girl, aren't you?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SCIALFA: Yes, I did grow up here. Well, we were taking our kids to this - I think this Englishtown, the raceway out there. We would take them every summer. And they had this fantasy robot. He was huge. He was three stories high that they had built and he would spit fire and he would - robosaurus(ph). That was it - robosaurus. And then we almost go out to the racetrack and the kids are a little deep into to seeing robosaurus.

And when we were out there, I really don't even know anything about Shirley Muldowney. And it started coming across the speakers that this is her last race. And yeah, they were celebrating her whole career. And I asked my cousin who is Muldowney. And he started, who is Shirley Muldowney? He was like shocked that I didn't know. And he started filling me, you know, all these details. He says, wait a second. I got a beer napkin. And I started writing down things that my cousin was saying and also writing down things that the announcer was saying. And then he went out night and Googled her.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Okay. She's the greatest female race driver of all time.

Ms. SCIALFA: Yeah. How fantastic is that? And in an age where it could have been that kind to women who were trying to excel in that.

(Soundbite of "Run, Run, Run")

Ms. SCIALFA: (Singing) (Unintelligible) and I left your name. Spinning down the road in (unintelligible) I wanted this, no I wanted that. I'd rather do (unintelligible). Run, run, run, yeah. Run, run, run, yeah. Run, run, run. Run, run, run, yeah. Run, run, run, yeah. Run, run, run. Run, run, run, yeah. Run, run, run, yeah. Run, run, run, yeah. Run, run, run, yeah. Run, run, run.

HANSEN: And there are some terrific women influences that you can hear in this, in your voice, too - but - and in the writing. You know, you've got people - I hear Dusty Springfield. I hear Ricky Lee Jones.

Ms. SCIALFA: Dusty.

HANSEN: Dusty, yeah.

Ms. SCIALFA: My papa.

HANSEN: "Dusty in Memphis," I bet is a favorite of yours.

Ms. SCIALFA: "Dusty in Memphis" is a big album for me. And when I started recording this record and I had Nils Logfren and Steve Jordan and Willy Weeks, (unintelligible) bass player, and Chris Carter. Let's say him.

HANSEN: Hmm.

Ms. SCIALFA: And then Bruce was in the studio, too. And I don't know if he was playing on that day. I think he was just listening and keeping us all company. And we put down a few tracks and said, oh, this is coming out a lot more rhythmic and with more grooves than my other records. And then Bruce said, oh, you should go back to "Dusty in Memphis." That's the kind of record you kind of making.

(Soundbite of song "Town Called Heartbreak")

Ms. SCIALFA: (Singing) Oh, such an ordinary start for a day that ends with disenchantment break your heart. And I, I thought that I was strong, 'cause you're necessary for me learn it that I was wrong without word is that.

Ms. SCIALFA: When we started putting me basic tracks down. I wanted to keep it without a lot of layers on it. And since everything felt very organic to begin with and the players already played the rhythm section, we're going to go back and then create overdub drums, or this or that. That the album is a very easy album to make than it was it was pretty economic. We just came in and just - you know, when I had free time because there's a lot of time restraints just on, you know, touring with (unintelligible) band and good times. So if we have a few days off, we'd come to the studio and we come up with this record.

HANSEN: Bruce is touring now and you're going to wait until next year. So you're going to try to trade off a little bit?

Ms. SCIALFA: Let us see on our few months off if I can do some kind of live performing because, first of all, this material is fun to play live - and I think it's pretty easy to play live. And try and sit it in but, you know, with out with the E Street Band now and I just took - used two days off. I missed Albany and Pittsburgh to get my oldest son, Evan(ph) just to get all his college stuff together basically.

HANSEN: Man, you got some plates - dinner plates juggling on top of poles there, I think.

Ms. SCIALFA: Oh, yeah.

HANSEN: Well, good luck balancing everything.

Ms. SCIALFA: Thank you very much.

HANSEN: You know, you're really on the thick of it. And it's a terrific CD, so wish you all the luck.

Ms. SCIALFA: Thank you.

(Soundbite of music)

HANSEN: Patti Scialfa's new CD, "Play It as It Lays." It's on Columbia Records.

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