Bruce Hornsby and Spike Lee collaborations

November 2017 saw Bruce Hornsby and Spike Lee get together once again. Netflix’s “She’s Gotta Have It” is the latest in a line of collaborations between the two since Branford Marsalis introduced them back in the 1990s.

Here’s a look at some of that work.

The first work with Spike actually pre-dated any of Spike’s films – Spike Lee directed Bruce’s music videos for Talk of the Town and Swing Street.

Next was 1995’s “Clockers” (DVD and CD soundtrack), duetting with Chaka Khan on “Love Me Still”. Spike directed that music video also. The song still gets a lot of airplay at concerts today, particularly solo piano shows.

Five years passed before the next collaboration. Next up was a solo piano track “Shadowlands” in 2000 for the Damon Wayans feature, “Bamboozled” (DVD and MP3/CD).

Bruce Hornsby and Spike Lee It was 2009 before Spike next called Bruce, for his first ever score – on the outstanding documentary “Kobe Doin’ Work” (DVD), charting a game in the life of Kobe Bryant. “Levitate” closed the movie, complementing a solo piano score throughout. “There was some trepidation obviously, since I had never done this before”, Bruce told the Hollywood Reporter at the time. “But it turned out to be a natural process. It was like an open canvas to throw paint on; I felt very free musically.”

Following that documentary, the calls became a lot more frequent. 2011 gave us “If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise” (digital, DVD), a four hour documentary revisiting New Orleans five years after Hurricane Katrina.

In 2012 we got two more projects. Firstly “Old Boy” (digital/DVD), a remake of the 2003 classic, this time starring Samuel L. Jackson and Josh Brolin. Although no soundtrack is commercially available, Bruce did contribute a few titled compositions, entitled “Mysteries of Crimea”, “Mia Cello” parts 1, 2 and 3 and (blame IMDB if I’m wrong) a cell phone ringtone?!

Soon after came “Red Hook Summer: (digital/DVD) – fourteen tracks credited exclusively to Bruce, including solo concert favourite “Hymn in C”.

Working arrangement

Bruce explained their unique working arrangement upon that project’s release. Spike asks for Bruce’s input, Bruce will send some ideas back, and Spike will find a  fit somewhere in the movie without any further consultation with Bruce. “Spike is open to new ideas. You just have to make sure it’s not too harmonically adventurous,” Bruce told the L.A. Times . “He told me once that something was too ‘Hitchcockian.’ I think he thought that was a bad thing.”

“Da Sweet Blood of Jesus” (digital/DVD) followed in 2014. Bruce wrote the score, but is not listed on the soundtrack CD.

In 2015, Spike released his “Chi-Raq” joint (Amazon Prime/digital/DVD, MP3/CD soundtrack), including a one-time Noisemakers association with Eryn Allen Kane and Sasha Go Hard on “Born in Chicago”.

2016 saw this unique relationship take a twist – a new piece of work, but this time on a video game. Spike wrote the story, and Bruce some of the music, for the Electronic Arts video game NBA 2K16 (Amazon).

Then latterly in 2017, Spike rebooted “She’s Gotta Have It” on Netflix, featuring yet another score by Bruce. Here’s the trailer:

2018 gave us BlacKkKlansman, nominated in January 2019 for six Oscars – Spike Lee’s first nomination. Rated 95% at, it’s the true story of Ron Stallworth’s infiltration of the KKK in the early 70s. Bruce wrote piano music for some of the scenes. It’s an incredibly highly-rated movie, and very well deserving of your time. You can buy BlacKkKlansman from Amazon and iTunes.

There’s a good chance that Bruce Hornsby and Spike Lee will collaborate again in future. Stay tuned to this website for any details!

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