As Told To
As Told To
Apr 12, 2022
Episode 17: Stevie Van Zandt
Play • 1 hr 39 min

“Nobody should ever take a band for granted,” writes the justly-celebrated rocker, songwriter, actor, producer, activist and music impresario Steven Van Zandt in his wild ride of a memoir, Unrequited Infatuations: Odyssey of a Rock and Roll Consigliere (A Cautionary Tale). “Bands are miracles. They’re rarely perfect, but if a band has that magical chemistry, it should not be fucked with… Every great band is a matter of individual eccentricities blending in different ways with unpredictable, inconsistent, occasionally glorious results.”

Here at the As Told To office, we believe the same could be said for the pairing of subject and collaborator, and at the risk of putting our host and our guests out of business we humbly suggest that there are some artists who are meant to go it alone in the memoir-writing department. Little Steven, the shape-shifting guitarist of Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes who helped to stamp the Jersey shore sound, is one of those artists. His memoir—published in September 2021 and due out in paperback in September 2022—puts a brilliant exclamation point on a singular career, and he does so in a deeply personal way.

“If this book was a song, you’d want to crank up the volume,” writes the noted film critic and screenwriter Jay Cocks. “It’s one of the best rock memoirs ever. It’s got soul, it’s got humor, it’s got some tough truths and some wild stories all wrapped up in battle scars and telling memories you’d usually need a backstage pass to catch… It’s so much fun you can dance to it.”

Indeed you can. We know. We tried. We suggest you do as well, but tune in to this episode first as a kind of palate cleanser and walk around in Little Steven’s shoes for a bit, as he talks about what it was like to roll up his sleeves and sit down to write about his coming of age in the music business, his political activism, his unlikely star turn in “The Sopranos,” his leap of faith in producing and starring in “Lilyhammer” (the first-ever show to stream on Netflix), his pioneering work as programming director and rock ‘n roll curator, and an activist streak that has lately led him to launch his Rock and Roll Forever Foundation and TeachRock, which seeks to re-imagine a new K-12 national curriculum that makes room in our schools for an interdisciplinary focus on the arts.

Oh, and by the way, check out Stevie’s late-career renaissance and the kick-ass new music he’s been putting out with Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul, including last year’s “Summer of Sorcery” live album and the expanded edition of “Soulfire Live!”—we’ve been playing those babies on repeat since Stevie agreed to this interview.

Chef’s recommendation: listen to author read his memoir in the audio edition of the book, available from our sponsor (code: ASTOLDTO).

Learn more about Stevie Van Zandt:

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