Stevie Van Zandt discusses life and music with Bruce Springsteen
Stevie Van Zandt and Bruce springsteen hosted a webcast Tuesday night to discuss Van Zandt’s career and upcoming memoir, Unrequited enthusiasm.
The book tells the twists and turns of the always surprising life of Stevie Van Zandt. It is more than the testimony of a globe-trotting nomad, more than the story of a revolutionary militant, more than the odyssey of a spiritual seeker, and more than a rock and roll master class (without talk about a dozen other trades).
The conversation between Van Zandt and Springsteen focused on the duo’s work together in the E Street Band, Van Zandt’s work in The Sopranos, and more.
Springsteen started the conversation by remembering the time they first met. He says: “… we met Middletown Hullabaloo for the first time. I remember going in and seeing a guy on stage with a top hat, a huge tie, singing the Turtles Happy Together. We immediately struck up a friendship and then moved on to some sort of our mutual trips to Greenwich Village. ”
Van Zandt added: “You know, the Beatles be certain Ed sullivan, I think on February 9, 1964, we suddenly went from a country with few groups to everyone having a group the next day. But most of them stayed in the garage they belonged to, but a dozen of us got out and walked around. And we were so lucky, man. What a lucky generation we were.
Van Zandt also recalled the risks involved in pursuing his dreams as a musician. “We didn’t have a plan B. And I didn’t know anyone else like that except you [Springsteen], which was hugely important back then, because if you’re the only monster around, you’re going to start asking yourself questions. But if there are two of us, maybe there is something. Maybe we’re on to something here. And it’s hard to imagine, but it wasn’t even a business until the 1970s, you know? So if you were in a rock and roll band in the 60s, you were a little weird. It was strange. ”
The E Street Group
Springsteen and Van Zandt also discussed their debut with The E Street Band, starting with the release of Springsteen’s seminal. Born to run. “The interesting thing was that Steve and I had such a bond, a soul bond, that you really couldn’t resist. He had his own innate characteristics that said, “We just have to be in the same group.” How can we have so much in common and not share it on stage in one of the most central places in your life? It was then… I guess it was… Was it in 1975 or something like that when you joined the E Street Band?
Van Zandt confirmed that he joined the group in 1975, just as “Born to Run was coming out. The single had been released months before and sort of created a little bit of hope because the stations were playing this stuff. But now the album is about to be released, so you had about seven shows. You said, ‘I want to put the guitar down for a minute.’ Because you were about to go through your first, really big change in personality and everything in between. And it is very important.
Van Zandt also explained how he put his instinct to lead a group in the rearview mirror to help honor Springsteen’s vision. “I think because I had just been a boss in my own world originally people were quite surprised when I joined you because we were both successful locally. We had two of the most popular groups. And at a certain point, although I was okay with that, and I was getting good at a leader in the ’80s, when I had to, but my natural inclination was never to be the leader. I like to be the guy backstage, or next door. If I had to describe myself, it would be as a producer, or producer / writer, or writer / producer.
Given his work with the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and “City of the sunSpringsteen also asked how Van Zandt got involved in activism. “Let’s talk about how rock music got you into your political life because that’s the other big part of the book,” Springsteen said. .
“Going from where it became such a central part of so many of your early records and just such an essential part of your life where you became an activist on a level that I never had the courage to go out and to do.”
Van Zandt mentions a tour with the E Street Band in East Berlin in 1980 during The River Tour and the effect it had on him.
“We are finally making Europe and a child came up to me and said: ‘Why are you putting missiles in my country? I was like, ‘What are you talking about kid?’ I just ignored it, but I couldn’t get rid of this question. At this point we had succeeded, which was unexpected in a way. We had been working at that time for 15 years.
So that tunnel vision that we all have, to get to where we’re at, starts to fade a bit. I’m like ‘Wow, I wonder what I’ve missed the last 15, 20 years?’ It hit me like a ton of bricks. When you travel abroad, you are not a guitarist, cab driver, Republican or Democrat, you are an American.
The Sopranos, Solo music and more
Van Zandt also spoke about his founding role as Silvio in The Sopranos, even delving into how he was almost cast as Tony Soprano. “Suddenly I find myself playing, which is a whole different story in the book. But at first, I wasn’t in the original pilot, and he picked me to play Tony Soprano, actually. IIntellectually cooler heads prevailed and HBO said, “You’ve lost your mind. The guy has never played before, and we’re going to invest $ 30 million in this thing, ”Van Zandt explained.
“David said to me, ‘Well, HBO won’t let me introduce you as Tony, so what do you want to do? I said, ‘Come to think of it, David, I really appreciate this opportunity, really, but I feel guilty about taking an actor’s job. These guys… My wife is a real actress. She goes to school, and I’ve watched her go to school for years. Off-Broadway, Off-off-Broadway, they all take these courses. And I said, ‘I feel guilty for taking a job.’ And he says, ‘Alright, I’ll tell you what, I want you on this show, and I’ll write to you in a role that doesn’t exist.’ “
Van Zandt also explained his passion for rock ‘n’ roll, discussing his show on Sirius Radio and how it became a project to carry on rock’s legacy. “I’ve spent the last 20, 25 years doing nothing but trying to save this endangered species called rock and roll, not out of nostalgia, but because it’s special. And we grew up in the Renaissance era, and I don’t use that term lightly. When the greatest art created is also the most commercial, you are in a Renaissance. And suddenly the formats on the radio, nothing wrong with classic rock, it’s great. That’s us, basically.
Van Zandt added: “But it’s a small, narrow genre, and there are a lot of others right now. The oldies format dates back to the 80s now. We are old people. Well you’re oldies, we’re classic rock, actually. But I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, wait a minute. What happened to the 50s and 60s and even the 70s now, what happened to that? Is it gone forever? It doesn’t make sense to me, okay? We have to preserve that one way or another.
Springsteen concluded the conversation by telling Van Zandt how important he is to his life. “That’s what it means to me, just learning to read the book as a best friend. The book meant a lot to me. I am proud and happy of its existence. And for you and, of course, for our friendship over all these years, I can only thank you. ”
The conversation between Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Van Zandt is available to stream.