Music is My Life: Episode 070

Bruce Hornsby on New Album and Having the Most Diverse Array of Collaborators Ever

Bruce Hornsby, legendary pianist, singer, and songwriter, discusses his humble beginnings in a Grateful Dead cover band, his trials and triumphs in learning music in college, his almost-breakthrough with the Doobie Brothers, his mega breakthrough with “The Way It Is,” and his eventual full-circle moment, playing some 100+ shows with the Grateful Dead.

But that was just the beginning for Bruce Hornsby. Since his debut, he has experimented with nearly every type of music, and to great effect: He has won Grammys for Pop and Bluegrass, and been nominated for Country. His “you may also like” on streaming services is possibly the most diverse in all of music: Spotify recommends “This is Copland,” “Instrumental bluegrass,” and “2Pac Best Of.” Bruce Hornsby’s list of collaborators is just as diverse, enjoying long-term working relationships with Spike Lee and Ricky Skaggs.

He has also enjoyed an unexpected recent career resurgence, courtesy of his collaborations with members of Bon Iver, in particular Justin Vernon.

“He had me come out and play his Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival, and it just turned me out, because this festival was so beautiful,” says Hornsby. “It just crushed me, I loved this thing so much! I had been brought into this world by Justin and found it so arresting and so inspiring, so these disparate connections turned into this recent music, where collaborations have run amok.”

The new Bruce Hornsby album, ‘Flicted, features some of these collaborations that have run amok, including Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend, Blake Mills, Danielle Haim, Rob Moose, and more. In this extensive interview, he discusses everything mentioned in this write-up, and more!