Eleanor Friedberger Spins a Soundtrack for Parties and Pizzas

The singer admits she gets a little bossy in the kitchen and gives you a few songs to play when you're drinking for dessert.

Photo Credit: Roger Kisby

Eleanor Friedberger was half of the prolific brother-sister duo, The Fiery Furnaces. Her third solo album of strummy, literate pop came out this week. It’s called “New View,” and critics are digging it. Eleanor tells us about a few of her favorite records and pizzas.


Eleanor Friedberger: Hi, I’m Eleanor Friedberger, and this is my Dinner Party Soundtrack.

Van Morrison – “Santa Fe/Beautiful Obsession”

The first song I’m going to play is called, “Santa Fe/Beautiful Obsession.” It’s a Van Morrison song, and the very beginning has this kind of really hooky, almost like, Baroque keyboard part. Like a rock-sichord or something that almost sounds like a harpsichord. It’s very repetitive and just has been stuck in my head ever since I heard it.

I heard Van Morrison, I’m sure, countless times on the radio growing up, but I really got into him through a pretty bad movie called “Immediate Family” starring Glenn Close. I don’t know how I ended up watching it, but it’s about this couple who adopts a baby, and they have a relationship with the birth mother. She gets cold feet and wants to take the baby back.

Anyway, they’re trying to bond with this woman, and she plays her “Into the Mystic,” a Van Morrison song, in the movie. They sing and dance to it for, like, a whole two minutes. I bought “Moondance” after that.

Dwight Twilley – “Looking for the Magic”

The second song I would play is “Looking for the Magic” by Dwight Twilley. It’s from an album called “Twilley Don’t Mind” that came out in 1977, and I discovered him about four years ago. A good friend of mine, Jeff Jensen, hired Dwight Twilley, flew him up from Tulsa to play at his 40th birthday party, and he played about ten songs, including “Looking for the Magic.”

He has this spectacular effect on his voice on the song “Looking for the Magic,” and I’ve said to producers and engineers, “Can you make my voice sound like that?” And no one’s quite figured it out.

I like to cook a lot. At New Year’s Eve, I hosted some people and I made about 12 pizzas: prosciutto and jalapenos, and my like, ’90s California Pizza Kitchen pizza with caramelized onions and Gorgonzola cheese. But during “Looking for the Magic,” the food might even be over by now. It might be just drinking for dessert.

Ornette Coleman – “Theme from a Symphony”

I’m not a great collaborator in the kitchen. I’m a little bit bossy. And it’s bad to have too many disruptions in your evening when you’re trying to cook. So that’s why I like playing long songs like Ornette Coleman’s “Theme from a Symphony.” The first song on “Dancing in Your Head.”

Ornette Coleman, sadly, passed away this past June. He’s an innovator most known for his free jazz music. This is just one of those songs from childhood that I remember dancing around the house to.

Eleanor Friedberger – “He Didn’t Mention His Mother”

I’ve been known to play [laughs] some of my own songs at dinner parties. I get a lot of flak for that. But if I was going to play something from my new album, I would play the first song on the album called, “He Didn’t Mention His Mother.”

To me, there’s a great sense satisfaction in the song, so that’s a nice way to end the evening if you’re feeling, you know, confident and calm. In my words of my bass player, “It’s mad chill.”