Patti Scialfa: 20 songs from throughout her career

patti scialfa videos


Bruce Springsteen devoted his July 29 SiriusXM satellite radio DJ show to the music of his wife Patti Scialfa. And it felt like a revelation.

Sure, I’ve heard Scialfa’s music before. I’ve also seen her perform her own music live, and even interviewed her. But this nearly two-hour deep dive, focusing on some of the best tracks of her three studio albums and giving her ample space to explain her perspective on her own music — with Springsteen pointing out some key details, along the way, and them both sharing warm stories about their musical and personal history — made it all come alive in a way that it previously hadn’t for me.

And so, to continue my (and hopefully other people’s) musical education, I’ve dived further, exploring clips of her on YouTube. And here are 20 things that I’ve found, from throughout her career.

I’ve included one studio track from each of her albums. But I’ve mostly avoided songs that Springsteen played on SiriusXM — just one of my selections, “Rose,” was also played (in another version) on Springsteen’s show. I see this post as complementing the one I did for that show, which has the complete transcript and YouTube videos for nearly all the songs played; it can be found here.

I’ve also included some of the music Scialfa made with Springsteen as a duet and backing vocalist in the E Street Band (Springsteen, somewhat surprisingly, didn’t play any of those songs on SiriusXM). And I’ve included some of her work as a backing vocalist for other artists.

I’ve arranged the songs chronologically. Here they are, with some notes for each one:

“Wake Up (To a Brand New World),” with Tone (1977). Years before joining The E Street Band, Scialfa sang with former E Streeters David Sancious and Ernest “Boom” Carter in the jazz fusion/progressive rock band Tone.

“Rose” (1980). This song would later appear on Scialfa’s 2004 album, 23rd Street Lullaby.

“Stagger Lee,” with Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes (1980). A track from the Jukes’ live album, Reach Up and Touch the Sky. Scialfa and her fellow backing vocalists Soozie Tyrell and Lisa Lowell are spotlighted in a segment beginning at the 6:20 mark.

“Blonde on a Bum Trip,” in “Poet’s Cafe” (1984). Scialfa and Tyrell are featured on the second song of this video, “Blonde on a Bum Trip,” sung by David Johansen during his “Poet’s Cafe” show, a collaboration with Carl D’Errico (best known as the co-writer of the Animals hit, “It’s My Life”).

“Out in the Street,” with Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band (1985). Scialfa, of course, joined Springsteen and the E Street Band for their 1984-’85 Born in the USA Tour. Here she is, from a 1985 concert, sharing a mic with Springsteen during “Out in the Street” (go to the 3:55 mark if you just want to see that part of the song).

“One Hit (to the Body),” with the Rolling Stones (1986). Scialfa contributed backing vocals to this hit and other tracks on the band’s 1986 album Dirty Work.

“Tougher Than the Rest,” with Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band (1988). The Tunnel of Love Tour accentuated Springsteen and Scialfa’s onstage chemistry just as they were also becoming a couple of real life. Here they are dueting on one of Springsteen’s greatest love songs, “Tougher Than the Rest.”

“How I Wish,” Keith Richards (1988). Scialfa sings on two tracks of Richards’ Talk Is Cheap album, including “How I Wish.”

“Human Touch,” with Springsteen (1992). Scialfa adds vital backing vocals to this song, from Springsteen’s “In Concert/MTV Plugged” special.

“In My Imagination” (1993). A standout from her debut album, Rumble Doll, with old friends Tyrell and Lowell on backing vocals.

“Tragedy,” with Emmylou Harris (2000). Scialfa and Springsteen sing on this track from Harris’ Red Dirt Girl album.

“Out on Bleecker Street,” with Soozie Tyrell (2003). Scialfa sings on this track from Tyrell’s White Lines album.

“Love (Stand Up)” (2004). From Scialfa second album, 23rd Street Lullaby.

“23rd Street Lullaby” (2004). A performance video of the Rickie Lee Jones-esque title track of her second album.

“Brilliant Disguise,” with Bruce Springsteen (2005). From Springsteen’s “VH1 Storytellers” special, filmed at the Two River Theater in Red Bank.

“Run, Run, Run” (2007). A sinewy rocker from Scialfa third album, Play It As It Lays, with support from Tyrell, Lowell and two more Springsteen-associated vocalists, Cindy Mizelle and Michelle Moore.

“Seven Nights to Rock,” with Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band (2014). A fun segment from a 2014 concert.

“If I Should Fall Behind,” with Bruce Springsteen (2018). From the ’18 edition of the annual Stand Up 4 Heroes benefit in New York.

“Hymn to Him” (2020). Scialfa and Springsteen are featured on this track from Dion’s album of collaborative tracks, Blues With Friends.

“Jersey Girl,” with Bruce Springsteen (2020). From the recent “Jersey 4 Jersey” telethon benefiting the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund.

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