'Little' Steven Van Zandt: Baby Boomers Are The 'Luckiest' Generation

Songwriter, producer, director, writer and activist "Little" Steven Van Zandt thinks his generation got a pretty good deal, all things considered.

While The Sopranos' 'Silvio Dante' and longtime E Street Band guitarist acknowledged to Q104.3 New York's Jim Kerr and Shelli Sonstein that there was no shortage of political inequality for Baby Boomers to confront, he says there was nothing like the art of the 1960s and '70s to inspire them.

"We are the luckiest generation. I always say that," Van Zandt told the show. "Our parents, our grandparents were the greatest generation. But we are the luckiest generation because we just grew up in a Renaissance period of the '60s. The greatest art being made, the greatest music being made was also the most commercial. We'll never see that again."

Earlier in his conversation Thursday with the Jim Kerr Rock and Roll Morning Show, Van Zandt recalled being barred from entering Disney Land because of his style and being part of a movement to override a presidential veto.

It wasn't a smooth ride, but no generation has it easy. With his Teach Rock organization, Van Zandt is using music to help improve kids' experience at school.

"We feel arts integration is a really important way of bringing this new generation in who are having trouble concentrating," he said, before adding that today's generation is "faster than us and smarter than us and [has] no patience whatsoever."

Music, however, provides a proven way of engaging young people. Teach Rock helps restore music and art programs that have been cut from public schools and it provides teachers a methodology that took 15 years to develop. Van Zandt says giving kids something to love about school is enough to keep them from dropping out entirely.

"We found that by using music as the common ground, kids will stay in class," he added. "If they like one class and they like one teacher, they will come to school. Those three things are our main goals. We now have 30,000 teachers registered."

Beyond philanthropy, Van Zandt is busy running his record label, producing artists, doing his Underground Garage radio show and releasing his Rock N Roll Rebel: The Early Years box set.

Watch the full interview in the player above.

To keep up on everything he's doing, go to LittleSteven.com.

Photo: Getty Images

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