E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt has begun putting together a record for Sixties pop hit-maker Darlene Love, whose voice appeared on countless Phil Spector–produced singles like “He’s a Rebel” and “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.” Van Zandt says he promised her he’d make a record with her about three decades ago, “depending on where you want to start counting,” but that he’s excited it’s “finally” coming together.
To make it worth the wait, he’s enlisted many of his famous friends to accompany the singer, who recently reentered the spotlight after being featured in 20 Feet From Stardom, the acclaimed documentary on backup singers. Speaking to Rolling Stone on the red carpet before Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett’s Cheek to Cheek taping in New York City Monday night, he listed a who’s who of songwriters.
“I’m writing,” he says. “Elvis Costello’s writing. I’ve talked to Bruce [Springsteen] about a song.” Additionally, Van Zandt says he’s been in touch with the songwriting team of Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann – who wrote the Spector-popularized hits “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” and “Walking in the Rain,” among others – as well as Mike Stoller, coauthor of early rock hits like “Hound Dog” and “Jailhouse Rock,” and singer-songwriter Carole King.
“Everybody I know that is a great songwriter, I’m talking to,” Van Zandt says. “We’re hoping to have an all-star album for Darlene, which she deserves.”
The guitarist, whom Springsteen inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year with the rest of the E Street Band, says he intends to record the album in his own studio. Regarding when the record might be done, Van Zandt says, “Maybe in time for Christmas. If not, then the first of the year.”
Love was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011, along with Alice Cooper and Neil Diamond. “I just spoke to Bruce Springsteen and Steve Van Zandt about it,” she told Rolling Stone at the time about her induction was announced. “Bruce said, ‘Congratulations! We did it!'”