When Patti Scialfa was asked to contribute a song to Every Mother Counts (Starcon), a compilation CD that will raise money to help improve child and maternal health in developing countries, she was stumped. Luckily her husband, Bruce Springsteen, had an idea.
"He reminded me of this song I wrote when our kids were really little," Scialfa recalls. "I was a little ambivalent about it — I felt that, vocally, it wasn't in my wheelhouse — so I always just put it off."
But the tune, called "Children's Song," seemed a perfect match for the project, which is being spearheaded by model-activist Christy Turlington Burns and features contributions from other prominent musical moms, including Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, the Dixie Chicks, and Jennifer Lopez. (Eight dollars from each CD will be donated to CARE, a partner in action with Every Mother Counts for maternal health-relief efforts worldwide, and will be available at Starbucks from April 12th through Mother's Day.) Scialfa agreed to give it a try.
Before heading into her and Springsteen's home studio to record the track with Springsteen and Ron Anielo, who produced her last album, Scialfa wrote a new version of the song that she thought better suited her voice.
"We had both versions and I kept pushing for the new one, and Bruce kept pushing for the one that ended up on the record," she says. "I kept saying, 'I just don't that sing that that well.' And he said, 'Run the tape, I'll sing it.' He sang the whole song and it really suited him just perfectly."
Ultimately they recorded the song – a lilting, down-tempo ballad – as a duet, although Springsteen isn't credited on the CD.
"It was supposed to be an album of just mothers," Scialfa explains. "It would probably draw undue attention to the song if his name was on it."
Turlington Burns, who personally contacted all of the artists on the compilation and has tirelessly promoted the cause since surviving her own difficult pregnancy in 2003, said she was thrilled with the contribution.
"That song is one of the nice, nice bonuses on the album," she says. "It's beautiful."