Stevie Van Zandt goes 'In Depth' discussing his new memoir 'Unrequited Infatuations'

'Little Steven' talks about his impressive career and the high standards he'll be sticking to as he looks to the future
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By , Audacy

Steven Van Zandt is best known as the guitarist for one of the greatest bands of all time, and an actor on one of the greatest TV shows of all time -- and now he's an author.

From the mid-70s when Van Zandt started writing music for an upstart singer named Bruce Springsteen, eventually joining the iconic E Street Band -- to the late-90s when he started playing beloved mobster Silvio Dante on HBO’s hit series The Sopranos -- “Little Steven” as he’s come to be known has embodied the culture, music, and the feel of northern New Jersey for the greater part of his life.

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But Stevie was busy with a whole lot more throughout the length of his impressive career.

The singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer, actor, radio host, and author of the new book 'Unrequited Infatuations - A Memoir' joined Audacy’s KNX NewsRadio on In Depth to discuss his impressive career and the high standards he'll be sticking to as he looks to the future.

After picking up his new memoir, you may find it hard to put down with all of the incredible stories included within. "I wanted the book to be about more than just a music book for music people," he explains. "The first half of the book is pretty much that... local kid from Jersey makes it to the top of Rock N' Roll -- and that's a great story by itself. But I think it gets a little bit more interesting in the second half when I leave the E Street Band and suddenly I have no plan. The bigger themes start to emerge I think; a sense of identity, a sense of purpose in life, a search for spiritual enlightenment. These are things I think everybody can relate to."

"I have had some fantastic success with the E Street Band and 'The Sopranos,' and 'Lilyhammer,'" and the Sun City project," Van Zandt adds, "but most of my most personal work has never found an audience. There's always two sides to that story and I think most people, sooner or later, have some disappointment in their lives and it's not the disappointment that matters, but it's what you do with the disappointment afterwards. Can you find a way to move forward? If you can, you know, destiny's gonna surprise you and show that you're not done yet."

A turning point in Steven's early, religious-centric childhood came after getting a "feeling of ecstasy," listening to a record one day. Subsequently witnessing the invasion of The Beatles in the United States soon after, he says sent everyone into their garages to start a band. "And I was one of them," he admits.

Steven's success, he feels, can be chalked up to his constant striving for "greatness," and choosing "quality over quantity." It's a characteristic he owes to growing up in the "renaissance period of the '60s" which he defines as "when the greatest art being made, is also the most commercial."

"The standards got set very, very high," he says, "and I've maintained those standards my whole life. Sometimes I haven't been as productive as I would like... I decided early on if my name's going to be on something, it has to be as good as it could possibly be."

Steven has stayed quite humble over the years, while always keeping true to his own high standards. One example is how although HBO did not want him to play the lead of Tony Soprano after they were pitched the idea by creator David Chase -- "rightly so" Van Zandt admits -- he was still uneasy taking another actor's job when asked if he would like to play another part in the series. "These guys work too hard... here I am coming in off the street." So, Chase wrote him a brand new part that didn't exist, based on a character named Silvio that Steven had created, in order to get him into the production.

Van Zandt's love of television continued on, taking all of the knowledge he gained from his experience on The Sopranos and applying it directly to his Lilyhammer project, which he co-wrote, co-produced, and even directed the final episode. "It was Netflix's first show, and I'm very, very proud of that."

Listen to the full interview with "Little Steven" above to get more insight into his new memoir, as well as where his "little" nickname originated (Spoiler: it has nothing to do with his height). Be sure to pick up 'Unrequited Infatuations - A Memoir' today wherever books are sold.

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