Eleanor Friedberger has more than once become the muse and the inspiration for another prominent songwriter. In 2001, Spoon's Britt Daniel penned "Anything You Want" with her in mind. Four years later, Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos wrote "Eleanor Put Your Boots On." One year after that, Friedberger's own brother Matthew dedicated his solo album, "Winter Women," to her.
It's hard to speculate what about the veteran indie rock singer/songwriter makes her so creatively captivating, especially because she herself downplays the whole thing.
"It's 'cause I'm so great," Friedberger quipped sarcastically over the phone earlier this month.
"I'm a songwriter, I've surrounded myself with other songwriters, and it's just what we do," she said. "I write songs for lots of people."
That being said, there are certainly indications of her genius (as both a guiding spirit and also a creative powerhouse) throughout her storied career -- from her tenure as the frontwoman of the Fiery Furnaces to the release of her newest solo album, "Rebound."
"I do what I can do. The product [of the Fiery Furnaces] was a collaboration of me and my brother. My brother [Matthew] and I were just trying to amuse each other and ourselves, so we'd come up with new ways to make songs. One song could have four different songs in it, and when I went to do my own stuff, I didn't have that person to play a game with," Friedberger said.
"I'd had a really long and productive year in 2016 when my last [solo] album came out. It culminated with the election at the end of the year, so I made a loose plan to go to Greece. After the election, I thought, 'God, I really do want to get out of here.' After a long touring cycle, you just feel a little bit lost anyway. I just felt especially lost and alienated," she added.
In Greece, Friedberger had a creative rebound that she maybe wasn't even aware of at the time, but it certainly looks like it will come to define her next couple of years as an artist.
"There's nothing Greek about the album, but it puts you in a different state of mind speaking in a different language. A lot of the album is about communicating and the feeling of discomfort because I don't speak the language.... I switched into a night owl. I went with writing in mind but didn't get much writing done at all. I was getting to know the city, and I ended up playing some shows, but it wasn't until I got home that I really sat down and started putting the pieces together. I was feeling depressed, to be honest -- a little bit lost, alienated. I think that's how the album sounds, too. It's made with more artificial sounds, so it sounds kind of more poppy, but the songs are actually pretty dark," she admitted.
"I would need a shrink, maybe, to explain it better," Friedberger added.
While her outlook might come across as bleak at times, she doesn't actually take herself too seriously. Maybe that's what makes her such a source of creative inspiration for others.
"I just have to get through today," she said, laughing, "There's no future, really."