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Eleanor Friedberger Unashamed Of Her Favorite Sounds

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Eleanor Friedberger was born in 1976, a little too late to have experienced much of that decade's music firsthand. But the singer-songwriter says she quickly made up for lost time.

"I grew up listening to classic-rock radio in Chicago," Friedberger says. "Those sounds — a Wurlitzer piano, a very dead drum kit — those are my favorite sounds. I'm not embarrassed to say I love the sound of an Elton John record or I love the sound of a Carole King record. That's my taste."

And those sounds are all over her new solo album, Personal Record. Here, Friedberger — known until recently as the singer of The Fiery Furnaces, a duo with her brother Matthew that's on hiatus — speaks with NPR's Wade Goodwyn about the new record, writing lyrics and what she learned interning for the PBS show Austin City Limits.

Interview Highlights

On co-writing songs with John Wesley Harding

"When I started working with him, it became clear that we were going to have very complicated rhyming schemes. [On my last album] I wrote the words almost as long lists. It was more important to me how the words just sounded coming out of my mouth, more so than if they rhymed or if they made that much sense, really. This was a conscious effort to make it seem more like poetry."

On feeling like a late bloomer

"The first Fiery Furnaces album came out when I was 27 years old. And that seems late. You look back and you think about wasted opportunities and wasted time — and it's easy to say now, when one is a little bit older. I could never have made this album, certainly, without all that past experience. But I wish I had been playing at the Blue Flamingo in Austin, Texas, when I was 19, instead of watching from the sidelines, you know?"

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