Little Steven and Bruce Springsteen: “It’s Been a Long Time”

When Little Steven kicked off his tour in New Jersey to promote his new album Soulfire, it may not have been a big surprise that Bruce Springsteen joined him on stage.  But it was still pretty awesome for the two to perform “It’s Been a Long Time” together.  They look like they’re having a lot of fun with Steve as the front man too.

The song originally appeared on the 1991 album by Southside Johnny & the Ashbury Jukes, Better Days.  The wonderful album is worth tracking down. The album includes songs by Steven Van Zandt, a.k.a. Little Steven (and Miami Steve), as well as vocal contributions by both him and Springsteen.

The original “It’s Been a Long Time” recording featured Springsteen, Van Zandt, and Southside Johnny. It was the perfect song for the three, reflecting on their youth at the Jersey shore: “We lived in a time and a world of our own,/ Making up the rules as we went along.”  Van Zandt, who wrote the song, features it on his new album Soulfire.

Some of the lines in the chorus about lost comrades seem even more poignant now that Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici of the E Street Band have passed away. But the song remains a celebration of both the past and the future.

It’s been a long time since we laughed together;
It’s been a long time since we cried;
Raise your glass for the comrades we’ve lost;
My friend it’s been a long, long time.

The performance of Springsteen and Little Steven with the Disciples of Soul is from May 27, 2017 at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, New Jersey.

Leave your two cents in the comments.

  • New E Street Band Sax Player: Eddie Manion?
  • Little Steven is Releasing “Soulfire”
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  • Super Bowl Songs: I Am a Patriot
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    Little Steven is Releasing “Soulfire”

    Steven Van Zandt rose to fame as “Miami Steve” during his work with Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.  But on a hiatus from that band, the guitarist and singer released several outstanding albums as a lead singer in the 1980s under the name “Little Steven.”  Now, after 18 years, Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul are returning with a new album, Soulfire.

    Soulfire features a collection of songs written for various purposes throughout the years.  The album features some of Little Steven’s versions of songs he helped write for Southside Johnny, such as “I Don’t Want to Go Home” and “Love on the Wrong Side of Town,” the latter of which Van Zandt wrote with Springsteen.

    The music sounds like the rock and soul of his earlier albums. Van Zandt explained to Rolling Stone:  “I tried to pick material that when you added it all up, really represented me. So there are a couple of covers, a couple of new songs, and some of what I feel are the best songs I’ve written and co-written over the years. This record is me doing me.”

    I have always been a big fan of Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul. I first listened to his work because of his association with Springsteen.  But one listen to his first album made me a Little Steven fan.

    Little Steven’s 1982 album Men Without Women was a great debut. Yet, 1984’s Voice of America is one of my all-time favorite albums. Voice of America included fantastic songs like “Out of the Darkness,” which appeared as a video on MTV, and “I am a Patriot,” later covered by Jackson Browne and by Pearl Jam.

    I also liked Little Steven’s Freedom – No Compromise (1987), which  continued building upon Van Zandt’s political voice with songs like “Trail of Broken Treaties” and “Bitter Fruit.”  His 1989 album Revolution flew below my radar.  Perhaps folks paid less attention because it digressed from the sound of his earlier albums, embracing even more of the electronic sound of the era.  Similarly, when Little Steven finally returned in 1999 with a new album,  Born Again Savage, the garage-rock sound disappointed me a bit.

    Soulfire, however, finds Little Steven returning to the soul sounds of his early great albums. So, I cannot wait for the release.

    The first single from Soulfire is “St. Valentine’s Day.” Van Zandt originally wrote the song for Nancy Sinatra but she never got to record it so he helped The Cocktail Slippers record it originally. Check out the version on Little Steven’s new album.

    Soulfire will hit the Internet stores on May 19, 2017.

    What is your favorite Little Steven song? Leave your two cents in the comments.

    Nelson Mandela, Sun City, and Changing Times

    With Nelson Mandela‘s passing, the world mourns the loss of an amazing man. It is hard to comprehend the changes that Mandela helped make in his lifetime. Back in 1985, while Mandela sat in prison and Artists Against Apartheid released the song “Sun City,” one could not have imagined that within a decade Mandela would be president of South Africa. RIP.

    Aritsts Against Apartheid was founded by Steven Van Zandt (aka Miami Steve, aka Little Steven) and record producer Arthur Baker. Sun City was a resort in South Africa, and the song called on artists to refuse to play there until apartheid ended. The song and video features such artists as Run DMC, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Hall & Oates, Herbie Hancock, and Ringo Starr.

    Only five years after the song’s release, Steven Van Zandt would appear on stage with Simple Minds, Chrissie Hynde, Lou Reed, and others, to sing “Sun City” at a tribute concert for Nelson Mandela at Wembley stadium. They were celebrating Mandela’s release from prison in early 1990.

    Leave your two cents in the comments.

  • Little Steven and Bruce Springsteen: “It’s Been a Long Time”
  • Super Bowl Songs: I Am a Patriot
  • Paul McCartney & Bruce Springsteen: “I Saw Her Standing There”
  • Little Steven is Releasing “Soulfire”
  • Springsteen and Bono Sing “Because the Night” in Dublin
  • Springsteen Joins U2 at Madison Square Garden
  • (Some related Chimesfreedom posts.)

    Super Bowl Songs: I Am a Patriot

    It is time once again for Chimesfreedom to take a look at songs related to each Super Bowl team. With this year’s battle between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants, we first consider the Patriots, using a song incorporating the New England mascot instead of going with Barry Manilow’s “Weekend in New England.”

    Back in the 1980s before there was the Internet where you can find a large amount of music and concert footage of your favorite artist, I was desperate for anything related to Bruce Springsteen for the long years between albums. In one of those periods, I discovered the music of Little Steven and “I Am a Patriot.”

    Little Steven, of course, is “Miami Steve” and Silvio Dante and Steven Van Zandt, a guitarist and singer in Springsteen’s E Street Band. While Springsteen’s songs gradually included more political allusions, Little Steven wore his social issues on his sleeve. “I Am a Patriot,” though, he reclaims the word “patriot” from the politicians and asserts its meaning as an advocate for freedom.

    And I ain’t no communist, and I ain’t no capitalist;
    And I ain’t no socialist;
    and I sure ain’t no imperialist;
    And I ain’t no Democrat;
    And I ain’t no Republican either;
    And I only know one party,
    And its name is freedom;
    I am a patriot.

    Little Steven recorded several very good albums on his own during the 1980s, including Men Without Women (1982), Voice of America (1984), Freedom No Compromise (1987) and Revolution (1989). He added one last album in the 1990s with Born Again Savage (1999), which was not as successful as his previous albums. “I Am a Patriot” is off of Voice of America, and the song has been covered by Jackson Browne and Eddie Vedder, among others. Browne also has performed the song with Little Steven.

    As for this weekend, at the end of the day on Sunday, New Englanders are hoping they can proudly assert the refrain of the song. Meanwhile, check out the Super Bowl song for the New York Giants.

    Are you a fan of Little Steven? What other songs are appropriate for the New England Patriots? Leave your two cents in the comments.

    Some Related Chimesfreedom Posts:

  • Nelson Mandela, Sun City, and Changing Times
  • Super Bowl Songs: Bon Iver & “Wisconsin”
  • Little Steven and Bruce Springsteen: “It’s Been a Long Time”
  • Little Steven is Releasing “Soulfire”
  • Purple Rain: Prince at 2007 Super Bowl
  • Springsteen and Vedder Sing “Bobby Jean”
  • New E Street Band Sax Player: Eddie Manion?

    Yesterday, in The Record, Southside Johnny talked about his friendship with Bruce Springsteen, adding, “He’s stealing my saxophone players to replace Clarence, so we steal from each other’s bands occasionally.” Southside did not mention a saxophone player by name — and he did use the plural “players” unless that was a misprint. But one may assume that the theft at least includes Eddie “Kingfish” Manion. Manion played with Springsteen as part of The Sessions Band when Springsteen was touring to promote The Seeger Sessions. In addition to being an original member of Southside’s Asbury Jukes, Manion also played with The Miami Horns and Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul. He also was part of the backing horns when Springsteen played the Super Bowl halftime in 2009, and he played baritone sax with the E Street Band in the Carousel House video shoot for songs from The Promise in December 2010. So, considering the long relationship, the rumor seems like it could be true. [Feb. 9, 2012 Update: As noted below, it has been confirmed now that Manion will be playing saxophone on the upcoming tour — with another saxophonist.]

    If you are wondering what will happen to “Jungleland” on tour, here is Manion playing a tribute to Clarence Clemons after the Big Man passed away.

    And here is Manion with Springsteen and The Sessions Band playing “Pay Me My Money Down” (video set to start at a Manion solo):

    Assuming Manion is part of the tour, it is unclear whether Manion will be a full-fledged permanent member of the E Street Band or whether he is just filling in for the upcoming tour or whether he will be one part of a larger horn section. Of course, Southside’s comment is not official and Springsteen has not made any announcements yet. Nobody can replace Clarence and those are some mighty big shoes to fill, but the music must go on. Welcome, Kingfish.

    Update: Blogness on the Edge of Town speculates on the addition of a horn section while noting that we may not know the makeup of the touring band until the first rehearsal show.

    Update 2 (Feb. 9, 2012): Bruce Springsteen’s website has now confirmed that Eddie Manion will be playing saxophone on the new tour along with another saxophonist, Jake Clemons — the nephew of Clarence. The tour will also feature singers Cindy Mizelle and Curtis King, trombonist Clark Gayton, and trumpeters Curt Ramm and Barry Danielian.

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  • Jake Clemons Plays “Jungleland”
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  • Springsteen and Vedder Sing “Bobby Jean”
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