I Wanna Be Literated #251

I Wanna Be Literated #251

Thursday, 17 March 2022

Unrequited Infatuations
by Steven Van Zandt

I don’t think I ever could have prepared myself for Unrequited Infatuations. I have been a Springsteen fan for a while now, but never dug deep into the history. I honestly didn’t really know about Steven Van Zandt, and only after watching Sopranos did he really pop up on my radar. I chalked him up to being a sideman with a big personality but it’s only after listening to the Best Show did my interest in him peak. His book Unrequited Infatuations seemed like it would be a fun read, so why not? I’m not sure anyone was really asking for it, but what’s important to remember is that Little Steven thinks people are dying to read this book. Anyhow, a book publisher thought this thing was worth putting out, so maybe there’s more to it.

Unrequited Infatuations reads like the ravings of a man with an inflated ego who has surrounded himself with sycophants for the past 30 years of his life. Van Zandt is basically the Kesley Grammer of music, and if you go into this book knowing that, you’re going to have a hell of a great time reading it. I should start off by saying something about the prose. There’s no way Van Zandt could have written this book. He’s just not clever enough. But, let’s assume he did. Unrequited Infatuations (doesn’t THAT title roll off the tongue?) is verbose, pretentious, bombastic, and full of run-on sentences. You can tell he’s his own biggest fan, like Robert Evans, and the man tells a hell of a story. You should go in knowing that someone with such low self esteem can’t be trusted as a narrator, so just sit back and watch this guy spin a yarn. Throughout this book, Van Zandt proceeds to make some wild claims and take credit for all sorts of outrageous things. He credits himself with helping Springsteen break by “fixing” Born to Run, that he was responsible for Daniel Ortega wearing a suit and Nicaragua being taken seriously on the world stage, and helping end apartheid in South Africa by producing a benefit song and concert. And that’s just the tip of the ice berg. Apparently, Van Zandt can just get a meeting with the heads of the ANC party in South Africa, and somehow these people would want to hear what this guy has to say and actually take him seriously. It’s just one incredible story after the next (like how he was considered for the part of Tony Soprano before Gandolfini was cast…which according to Wikipedia is actually true) as Van Zandt walks you through the major events of his life, mixing in Godfather metaphors, and defending his reputation as a musical artist. It’s a blast to see what he’s going to say next, and I’d love to see a companion book full of fact-checking.

My only regret is that I didn’t get the audio book for Unrequited Infatuations, but then again, Van Zandt doesn’t exactly have a velvety smooth voice. I know this book is ridiculous but I had a blast reading it. More than that, I think I’m going to miss reading his stories during my lunch break.

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