Mom, Muse and Musician

For nearly 16 years, New Jersey native Patti Scialfa has stood by rock legend husband Bruce Springsteen on the stage and in life. Together the couple has three children and in addition Scialfa has a successful music career of her own.

Currently on a worldwide tour with the E-Street band for Springsteen's new album "Magic," the 54-year-old Scialfa somehow manages to juggle it all.

Despite her many roles, Scialfa has kept pursuing her own dream of being a singer-songwriter.

"I think you have to fight for that, and I think anybody has to fight for that once you've had a family," she said. "You're the wife, you're a mother; you're trying to raise your kids. … There's that whole domestic part of you, which becomes very full. But then you don't want to lose your autonomy as to who you are inside, the poetic part of you."


Scialfa jokes about being onstage playing guitar and remembering she forgot to tell the sitter about a 5:30 piano lesson.

"I've had more than one of those and I -- and you shouldn't be thinking while you're onstage."

Even at home, Scialfa says it was always difficult to find time to work on her own music.

"You'd be trying to write, and [the kids] would be involved in something all day, like with crayons, so intensely involved, and the second you pick up a guitar two rooms away, play one chord … 'Mom!' You hear all the little feet: 'What are you doing?' … as if I'm committing some great infidelity," she recalls.

But today, their oldest child is starting to look at colleges, and Scialfa has been able to spend more time on her own career.

Scialfa's third and latest album, "Play It as It Lays," came out in September and sheds light on her life right now. "I wanted to write inside my skin and inside my age. I wanted it to be womanly and very full and with the experiences that are appropriate to who I am and who I am as a woman at this age."

In June, she and Springsteen will celebrate the 16th anniversary of their marriage. Springsteen plays backup guitar, organ and harmonica on Scialfa's latest album, and the collaboration has fans more interested than ever in what being married to "the Boss" must be like.

"'Play It as It Lays' for me was a song, and the album was a reflection of all this -- what are the complexities of a long-term relationship? People aren't perfect, they're flawed," says Scialfa. "So when you're young and you get into a relationship, you always think, especially for me since I'm a child of the '50s, that love … holds some simplistic promise of completion. That's not true."

Scialfa says that similarity and respect are the "glue" that keeps the couple together.

"We have a lot of similarities that we're lucky to have. … We work together also, and that foundation of real respect for each other, which you have to really stay vigilant with -- keep yourself in that," she said, and added with a laugh: "You know, you don't want to sink to the shrew level."