The best part of David Remnick’s New Yorker profile of Bruce Springsteen:
Patti Scialfa showed up after a while, trailed by two big, shambly German shepherds. A tall, slender woman in her late fifties with a startling shock of red hair, she was warm and smiling, offering water in the modern way; she also seemed a little nervous. Scialfa, like her husband, enjoys a magnificently cosseted life, but hers is a strange position and she doesn’t often talk about it publicly. At concerts, she performs two microphones to her husband’s left, a perfect vantage point from which to inspect, night after night, the thousands of hungry eyes directed his way. Scialfa has recorded three albums of her own. In the E Street Band, which she joined twenty-eight years ago, she plays acoustic guitar and sings, but, as she told me, “I have to say that my place in the band is more figurative than it is musical.” Onstage, her guitar is barely audible, and she is one of many supporting voices. Yet no one in the crowd is unaware that she is Springsteen’s wife––his “Jersey girl,” his “red-headed woman,” as the songs go––and, at any given theatrical moment onstage, she can flirt, rebuff, swoon, or dance. The E Street Band is an ensemble of characters, as well as musicians, and Scialfa expertly plays her role as Love Interest and Bemused Wife, just as Steve Van Zandt plays his as Best Friend. “Sometimes my frustration comes when I would like to bring something to the table that is more unique,” she said, “but the band, in the context of the band, has no room for that.”
So aware of her vestigial role but resigned (or indifferent) anyway, Scialfa is a worthy subject of her own profile, especially if a shrewd reporter examines the we’re-all-bros homosociality of the E Street Band through the lens of Springsteen’s lyrics.