Steven Van Zandt On ‘The Sopranos,’ ‘Not Fade Away’ and ‘Pretty Ballerina’

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Steven Van Zandt with David Chase/photo credit: Andy Kropa, Getty Images

Steven Van Zandt with David Chase/photo credit: Andy Kropa, Getty Images

For six seasons between 1999 – 2007, The Sopranos was one of the most exciting dramas on television (cable or otherwise) and it also boasted some of the best music of any series.  Creator David Chase was the mastermind behind the show, and he worked on the music with Steven Van Zandt, who played the role of Silvio Dante on the show.

Van Zandt brought a number of unlikely songs to the show, including The Rolling Stones’ “Thru And Thru” (sung by Keith Richards, not Mick Jagger), The Kinks’ “Living On A Thin Line” (sung by Dave, not Ray, Davies), Them’s “Mystic Eyes” and Otis Redding’s “My Lover’s Prayer” and The Pretenders’ “Space Invaders” to name a few.

The Chase/Van Zandt relationship was a pretty simpatico one through all of those seasons.  Until the last scene of the final episode; Van Zandt and Chase famously disagreed on the choice to end the series with Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

“We must have had three weeks fo wresting over that one,” Van Zandt tells CBS Local. “I begged him. I begged him!  I said, ‘After all this fantastic stuff you used over the years, this is gonna be the last thing that hear? I gave him some suggestions that I thought would be better.  In the end he said, ‘This is what the character would do.'”

While he maintains that other songs may have been cooler (in his mind), he concedes that Chase’s decision to stick with Journey was true to the character.  “I’m talkin’ to the guy who invented the character. I don’t have much to argue about! There was really no argument… but that didn’t stop me. That’s the kind of relationship we have.”

Their relationship extended to Chase’s new film, Not Fade Away, which is in theaters now. Van Zandt was the Music Supervisor for that film, responsible for teaching the actors in the film to play their instruments and to perform together as a band. RELATED: ‘Not Fade Away’ Music Supervisor Steven Van Zandt Talks Film, Recruits Long-Lost Beatles Drummer

Of course, he was also helped to put together the soundtrack.  And he happily reports to CBS Local that one of the songs he pitched for The Sopranos‘ last scene made it to Not Fade Away.

“‘Pretty Ballerina’ by the Left Banke. Picture that last Sopranos scene with that song playing!”

The Not Fade Away soundtrack is out now, and includes “Pretty Ballerina,” as well as songs by James Brown, The Rolling Stones, Bo Diddley and The Rascals.

Brian Ives, CBS Local 

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