Little Steven Reflects on 'Fantastic Year,' Shares Cheerful Video For 'Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)': Premiere

Steven Van Zandt
AP Photo/Carlo Allegri

Steven Van Zandt photoraphed on Feb. 2, 2012 in New York. 

Little Steven Van Zandt felt that just releasing the audio version of the Disciples of Soul's cover of the Ramones' holiday classic "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)" would not be quite enough. So now there's a video for the single, debuted exclusively below.

"Yeah, a couple weeks ago it occurred to me, 'Geez, we should have a video to go with us," Van Zandt tells Billboard about the clip. "I thought, 'Well, we could just record us playing it live at some gig,' but it didn't seem like enough. It didn't seem to be in the spirit of the thing, y'know? You want to have some fun."

Van Zandt and company certainly did that. The video features the Disciples of Soul, cavorting on a Barcelona beach mixed with vintage cartoon and movie footage. "It had to be public domain, because we didn't have time to get any licenses or anything like that. It was like two weeks before Christmas," Van Zandt says. "I was always a big fan of (early silent filmmaker) George Melies, so we found some of his things and a couple of old cartoons and we just picked out the various shots and put 'em together, and it all seemed to fit."

The "Merry Christmas" video provides a cheerful send-off to a productive 2017 for Van Zandt, during which he reactivated his solo music career and the Disciples of Soul after a 20-year layoff. He released a new album with the band, Soulfire, and toured North America and Europe, with one more show slated for Dec. 23 at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, N.J. And with Bruce Springsteen staying on Broadway through June, Van Zandt hopes to keep that momentum going into the new year.

"We had a fantastic year," says Van Zandt says, "really making a great first, new connection to an audience and I want to keep it going and really try to solidify at least a base for an audience for my own work. I want to keep playing and build up that fan base as strong as we can, just so I can come back to it ever other summer when Bruce isn’t out with the E Street Band. Maybe we'll do that every other summer and the Disciples every other summer -- and hopefully a new TV show in the winter."

Van Zandt says Springsteen "hasn't talked about what happens after" the current June 30 end of Springsteen On Broadway. But the guitarist and Underground Garage mastermind is also considering new television opportunities to add to a resume that includes The Sopranos and Lillyhammer. "I've got five scripts out that I wrote, so I'm trying to create my own show but also I've had some offers for some other TV shows, which I'm considering," he says. "So hopefully by the winter of 2018 I'll be shooting something. But there's nothing concrete yet, so we'll see."

Between now and then, of course, Van Zandt might wind up seeing Springsteen On Broadway another time or two. He's seen it twice so far and gives it a hearty thumbs-up, and he's also pleased and a bit relieved that the Springsteen audience is responding so enthusiastically to the very different endeavor.

"My only concern that first night was I was just hoping that the audience would understand it's a very different medium and that they'd respect the protocols of the medium and not be calling out songs or whatever," explains Van Zandt, who's also hosting a Time And Time Again: A Celebration of the Life of Pat DiNizio tribute to the late Smithereens frontman on Jan. 13 at the Count Basie Theatre. Plans are to establish a Pat DiNizio Musical Performance Scholarship at the theater's Performing Arts Academy. "I was really a little nervous that first night, but the audience has been great and they've adjusted to what he's doing and they treat it very seriously. It's got a whole a whole different, Broadway-type vibe to it, and the response has been just great. He's really creating a new kind of show that he's never done before, and I really love what he did and how he did it and the way he did it. He keeps on conquering new territory, y'know?"

Watch "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)" below.