Stevie Van Zandt - E Street Band

Steven Van Zandt’s Binge Watch Playlist

You know him as Bruce Springsteen’s legendary guitarist, Tony Soprano’s consigliere, or Lilyhammer‘s leading man, but there’s much more to the story behind “Little Steven” Van Zandt.  The actor-guitarist-mandolin player is also a songwriter, a producer, and a social justice activist, and now he’s the subject of a just-released HBO documentary, Stevie Van Zandt: Disciple, a stirring look at an awe-inspiring life that features interviews with Eddie Vedder, Bono, Paul McCartney, Darlene Love, and Springsteen himself.

Back in 2020, with a box set of his collected works released and the E Street Band’s profound Letter To You album on the horizon, Steven Van Zandt shared his calling to the silver screen.

“I need to get back to TV,” he told me. So what would he want to do when he got there? He gave us a list of some of his tastes, from documentaries foreshadowing the new film about his life to his favorite movies to the TV show that his fellow E Street band member, Max Weinberg, has been trying to get him to reboot for ages. As one would expect from the eclectic multihyphenate, Van Zandt’s Binge Watch Playlist runs a wide gamut.

Baltin: So let’s begin with what you have been watching?

Michael Des Barres documentary Van Zandt: I’m trying to catch up with all the new stuff. There are a lot of cool documentaries that have come out. I’ve been in some of them. The new Michael Des Barres, Who Do You Want Me To Be?, right now is really catching fire. A lot of people are discovering Michael Des Barres, who is a wonderful character. The documentary is just terrific. That’s been quite popular. They’re making a lot of documentaries.

Baltin: What have been your favorite documentaries?

Van Zandt: The Paul Butterfield one [Horn From The Heart] comes to mind. So little had been done about Paul Butterfield and I don’t understand it. To my knowledge there has never been a book about Paul Butterfield. How is that possible?

There’s a good Miles Davis one [Birth of the Cool], a good Motown one [Hitsville: The Making of Motown] with Smokey and Berry Gordy kind of reminiscing. The Funk Brothers [Standing in the Shadows of Motown] of course is another Motown one. There are quite a few good ones.


Baltin: Is there one show you can go back and watch again and again?

Van Zandt: The first season of NYPD Blue I think is one of the most extraordinary series that I wasn’t in (laughs). Sopranos and Lilyhammer aside, NYPD Blue, that first season, Dennis Franz, both of them [David Caruso]. the whole show is just amazing. That’s one thing I went back and saw recently and it blew my mind how good it was.

Baltin: What about favorite movies?

Van Zandt: Love Point Blank, John Boorman’s second film with Lee Marvin. I love Performance, where Mick Jagger himself was transformed. He was never the same afterwards. The Long Good Friday I never get tired of. So many. I never get tried of Raging Bull and Mean Streets.

Baltin: During these tumultuous times, what makes you laugh?

Van Zandt: Hard to beat Sanford and Son, that era, All In The Family. Then Good Times, quite a few back then that were starting to move into reality a little bit.

Baltin: What show would you like to see rebooted and be a part of?

Van Zandt: Well, Max Weinberg has been trying to get me to bring back Kojak for a number of years. He sees me as Kojak. That’s one of my favorite shows. I would be hesitant to try to compete with Telly Savalas. I just saw the Dirty Dozen the other day. that’s a hell of a movie. I love that. Baretta was cool.


Steven Van Zandt’s Binge Watch Playlist

Steve Baltin

Steve Baltin

Steve Baltin has written for Rolling Stone, Forbes, Billboard, Los Angeles Times, MOJO and more, as well as hosted the Amazon Prime series ‘Riffing With’ and the podcast ‘My Turning Point.’ He is a Southern California-based writer who loves a great sitcom.

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