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The Best 25 Steven Van Zandt Quotes

BY JACOB UITTI, American Songwriter

The Best 25 Steven Van Zandt Quotes - American Songwriter

The longtime electric guitar player for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Steven Van Zandt, is a wealth of wisdom. Which makes sense—the guy has seen and done a lot. For the 73-year-old Massachusetts-born and New Jersey-raised artist, life is something to be shared, cherished and full of music and generosity.

But whats does Van Zandt, who also starred in the hit TV show, The Sopranos, have to say about the world outside of his decades of music? What are his thoughts on life and love, his craft, bands and the world at large? That is the subject here below.

1. “The British invasion was the most important event of my life. I was in New Jersey and the night I saw the Beatles changed everything. I had seen Elvis before and he had done nothing for me, but these guys were in a band.”

2. “The rock era, as I clock it, went from ’65 to ’94, from ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ to Kurt Cobain’s death.”

3. “C-17s should be ready to go at various military bases around the world packed with water, food, medical supplies, sleeping bags and tents, all prepared to be air dropped in alongside soldiers and doctors to begin relief efforts.”

4. “You think your congressman is working all day to get you a job? He may want to. He or she is probably not a bad person. They probably want to do the right thing. But they can’t.”

5. “The quality of our lives is diminished every time we lose a great artist. It’s a different world without Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Curtis Mayfield, Brian Jones and the rest.”

6. “Garage rock is music for older people with young souls and young people with old souls. It’s a certain sensibility, and you may have it when you’re 17 or when you’re 67.”

7. “As most of the population suffers through life, barely surviving, disappointed and confused day after day, hopeless, wondering what happened to their strong and beautiful country, it is in the media’s power to restore, if not some of our quality of life, at least a bit of our peace of mind.”

8. “I am Italian. Springsteen’s mostly Italian, too. We’re both Italians with Dutch names, one of the many things we have in common.”

9. “The simple fact is we do not live in a democracy. Certainly not the kind our Founding Fathers intended. We live in a corporate dictatorship represented by, and beholden to, no single human being you can reason with or hold responsible for anything.”

10. “I know what it takes to make a band, how they should interact, what makes a record sound like it’s a band—everything having to do with a band, I happen to be into.”


11. “It’s become uncool to play other people’s songs, and that’s absurd. It has got to change. It’s the reason why everything’s so mediocre.”

12. “The energy that comes when you compel people to dance stays with you your whole career—whether you are playing to 100,000 people at Glastonbury or 1,000 kids in a club.”

13. “Rock n’ roll is our religion, and we will continue to lose disciples as we go, but we pick up the fallen flag and keep moving forward, bringing forth the good news that our heroes have helped create, their bodies lost, but their spirits and their good work everlasting.”

14. “A lot of the idealism of the Sixties was spot on, from the environmentalism to the war to the Civil Rights movement, the women’s rights movement, you name it.”

15. “Once Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings are not cool on country radio, it’s time for a new format.”

16. “I grew up in a renaissance period, a very lucky time when the greatest music ever made was also the most commercial. We’ll never see that again, so for me, there’s only one criteria, which is greatness. That’s all I care about. Is what I’m doing reaching for greatness? Whether I achieve it or not, that is one hundred percent of my criteria.”

17. “I need a big picture. I can’t just do a collection of songs; that doesn’t work for me.”

18. “When I was younger, I went through the windshield of a car, and my hair didn’t grow back right. I had been wearing scarves occasionally, and I decided that I didn’t want to deal with wigs and things, so I just stumbled onto my thing.”

19. “I’ll never understand why people somehow support pollution. It’s completely irrational, and I don’t get it. Somewhere along the line, they bought into this fiction that one has to choose between the environment and business, which is just a complete falsehood and absurd.”

20. “You’re either on the Republican team or the Democratic team, and all that matters is that your team wins. Judging by history, regardless of which team wins, the people always lose.”

21. “Being a rock n’ roll star ain’t a part-time gig.”

22. “In ‘The Sopranos,’ these guys know their best years are behind them. They have nostalgia for their old traditions. In their minds, they’re looking for a time when loyalty mattered, community mattered. E Street is about community, too. People are looking for something real.”

23. “Rock n’ roll as a genre is different from pop and hip hop: it is about bands, and that for me suggests brotherhood, family, friendship and community.”

24. “Little Richard opens his mouth, and out comes liberation.”

25. “You ask people to fall in love with you. To need you. To want you. To buy your records and come see you. You have an emotional contract with people. To break up is to violate that contract.”


Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images



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