Members of the Bruce Hornsby “newsgroup” dutifully took time out of release day to record their thoughts, in case anyone called them out 25 year later. Also, a transcript from an online interview with Borders that day.
October 13 1998 – release day
I got Spirit Trail at 9:00 this morning. So far, the music is everything I expected it to be after a long wait: f*ckin’ awesome! I love the cover photo. I think I’m going to order the shirt from the AOL web page. I have a question though: What is the excerpt from Chip on the second to last page in the booklet?”
October 13 – DMAN:
“Song C brings my mood into a strange and calm place. It is truly amazing what music can do for us.”
October 13 – Tony “Big Rumble” Merriman:
“Just got the ST CD an hour ago but one song that hits me hard already is “Resting Place” Being a big guy myself I can really appreciate the lyrics and have been in many of those situations myself. “You ever feel like a street walker I get by being a funny talker All those funny jokes sting so just keep walkin” really feel like Bruce is singing to me in this one. Later, Tony.
P.S. Thanks Bruce :-)”
October 13 – RichKman:
“King of the Hill is still kicking my ass (keep in mind that I’m only up to Fortunate Son)……I also love the segue from Song C into Sad Moon.”
October 13 – Eric:
“I like FunHouse a whole lot. The album is awesome, my only complaint is that Song C and Song D are too short. Pete & Manny has a great Tango King feel, and it seems like it could have easily been on Hot House. The tempos on a few are different than I expected, and Debbie is just wonderful on King Of The Hill.
Thanks Bruce, this really makes my day…
October 13 – Jeremy:
“I really like Shadow Hand, Great Divide, and Fortuate Son, but SWAN SONG is one of Bruce’s most beautiful efforts ever. When he sings, “This is my swan song, I’m gone, gone” it made me realize how fleeting life, especially that of a performer, can be fleeting. Enjoy Spirit Trail—it will last forever.”
October 13 – Jean:
“It’s appropriate the record came out in October because it has kind of a swampy backwoods area on a Halloween night feeling… does that make sense?’
October 13 – SLAMM:
“Makes me want to get in the car and drive to Virginia and kiss the ground in front of the studio.”
October 13 – RTA:
The one song that hit me that I can’t stop thinking about because I LOVE it so much is “Line in the Dust.”
October 13 – Danielle:
“Song C has a somber tone to it that has brought me almost to the point of tears. Fortunate Son, Sunflower Cat, and Swan Song are not far behind. :-))”
October 13 – Mats:
“is Pete in “Pete & Manny” the same guy as The Tango King? To me it seems like it’s the same guy.”
Release day online interview with Borders
Question: How did you come about the name “Spirit Trail” for your new
Bruce: The musical influences on this record are gospel, R and B, and folk…making it to me more of a “southern” record. ”Spirit Trail ” is a two CD set, first CD being more about longer looser song forms with a lot of soloing, a lot of streching out, and longer story songs. The first CD is also about a bunch of guys in a room playing together. The approach to the second CD is two guys in a room making music with loops and it deals with tighter and shorter song structures, not so many solos and not very much piano.
Question: I read somewhere that your a “true southern boy,” how does
that relate to your music?
Bruce: There are two songs on the record that are story songs about the snake-handling congregations in Appalachia: Preacher in the Ring part one and two. In part one there is a line that goes… “There was bitin’ and a jumpin’ and moans and wails, believers out shakin’ on the Spirit Trail.” A lot of this record deals with issues of bigotry, tolerance, judgement, etc. and in a lot of cases my own personal struggles with these issues. The term Spirit Trail seemed to resonate from me in a sense that it describes a personal journey, for being a better person. …. a personal journey towards being a better person.
I had a very interesting upbringing. My mother was a cultured society woman, whose parents were from New England, and my father is an old country boy from a little fishing village, Seaford in Virginia. I sort of had the best of both worlds, I’m a definite combination of the two elements in the sense that I’m pretty much a trash mouth that will tell a dirty joke and then listen to Tschatakovitch. On this record there’s lots of sardonic humor, or attempts at it , but at the same time, very serious very dense musical moments. That reflects my upbringing.
Question: Hi Bruce, hope you enjoy this. What musician would you like
most to perform with?
Bruce: I’ve been saying the same answer to this question for so long that it’s time to change my answer. It’s always been Mark Knopfler, but now I guess I’ll change it just for the hell of it to John Scofield, a guitar player whose guitar playing I love. I never really pursued other playing relationships, they’ve all just pretty much come to me over the years, and I’m not pursuing any now.
Bruce: (Eddie, I didn’t realize you still lived in Norfolk. I thought you’d moved. Eddie is definitely someone whowould know who John Scofield is, say hi to him, and hopefully I’ll run into him soon!)
Question: When did you know you really wanted to be a musician? How
did your family influence you?
Bruce: My grandfather was a musician for a living in Richmond Va, and music was always in our house. My parents have tapes of me singing Hound Dog and Zorro at age 4. I decided I cast my lot with the musicians my first year of college. I went to the University of Richmond, one year long enough to realize that real college and me were a bad match. I then went to music school and got my degree. Actually as I think about it, I realized that I knew I wanted to be a musician my senior year of high school, but I didn’t think I was good enough that I could tell anyone that I wanted to do this without them laughing in my face, so I waited until somewhere in the middle of my first year of college.
Question: when do you plan to tour in Florida? We’ve missed you in
Bruce: We’ll do a full tour in the springtime and come back then. I believe I’m going to do a piano concert in Tampa in December.
Question: What is the story behind “Sunlight Moon”?
Bruce: How do you know that song so quickly? Sunlight Moon is a song about my sons who hate for me to go away on all the trips I take playing concerts at all. The title was suggested by one of my twin sons, Russell.
Question: What was playing with the Other Ones like on this year’s
Further Festival Tour?
Bruce: I hope we do it again. StarDust…. if we had played Hogey Carmicals Stardust it would have been a lot better. We’re in the process of mixing a live album from that tour which should come out at the first of next year.
Question (from “pianoman”): Do you have a favorite song on the new
Bruce: No… Pianoman… don’t request “Piano Man” at one of my concerts, because it’s one of the songs I won’t play…. along with the Peanuts theme…. won’t do it! Sorry!
Question: How has the band changed over time?
Bruce: Well, it’s a different band now. I’ve had the same band now for 5 years and in that time we’ve just gotten tighter in one sense and looser in another sense and able to jump from one musical area to another much more smoothly and easily.
Question: How did the deal with RCA come about?
Bruce: It’s a very simple story really. I finally made a tape that the record companies really liked that really moved them. It’s all about making a tape that the A&R guy can’t take out of his car tape player. After 7 years of trying I finally made that tape.
Question: Who has been your greatest musical influence?
Bruce: Pianistically… Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett and Leon Russell . Lyrically… Bob Dylan, Robbie Robertson and Don Ho.
Question: Was a recording made when you played with the Atlanta
Bruce: Regrettably no.
Question: Regarding songs on the new cd, how will you pull them off
live, considering the variety of instruments used on the cd?
Bruce: With great sleight of hand and sonic trickery and a great willing suspension of disbelief by the audience.
Question: What advice do you have for pianists just starting out? i’ve
been playing for 2 years.
Bruce: Buy all my song books and practice them asiduously.
Bruce: Seriously, there’s no one good answer to that question. Every situation is unique. The one thing I can say as I’m thinking about it is always play music that you like. Keep it enjoyable and practice as much as you possibly can!
Question: When you write melodies, do you ever create them in your
head first or do you always create them while playing the
Bruce: I often come up with melodies away from the piano. I often write my songs lyrics first. I think it wouldn’t be that hard to figure out which songs I wrote on the piano, which songs I wrote away from the piano. The piano songs being more involved and difficult and more challenging technically.
Question: Bruce, what is your relationship with Tori Amos’ drummer
Chamberlin who plays on the new album? Any chance you might
tour with Tori Amos?
Bruce: I love the way he paints his fingernails. He played on five songs in the new record. He’s not just Tori Amos’ drummer, he plays for a lot of people. I think Tori Amos is truly great and in Night of 176 keys, sounds like a fine idea. I’m not sure we share the same audience, but again… I’m a fan. I don’t think you’d find Stockbroker Stan or Dreadlock Dave at a Tori Amos concert generally (two standard components of my audience) but maybe the two crowds could co-exist very well.
Question: Did you get to play HORSE with Phil Jackson in NY?
Bruce: No, Phil’s ducking me. He knows he’s in trouble if he plays me. I did play a game of pickup basketball at Omega and had a very good time doing it.
Question: Hey Bruce! I hear you’re doing a 10 gig stint at YOSHI’s in
Oakland!! That’s a long stay there, what do you plan on
playing? I definitely want to be there 😉
Bruce: I plan on playing everything from Bud Powell and Bill Evans jazz tunes to old time Appalachian fiddle tunes along with my own music and the hits of Bert Kaempfert.
Question: Bruce, How is LHS doing in football?
Bruce: LHS is dominating…. fyi.
Question: What was your inspiration for Fortunate Son?
Bruce: Fortunate Son is a song loosely based on the life of Lewis Puller Jr., the great marine Chester Fuller’s son, who wrote a very moving book called Fortunate Son that won the Pulitzer Prize. Thanks for asking, it’s a song that’s special to me.
Question: Was there a recording made of the Final Tour Date of Furthur
Fest 98 in Mountain View Ca?
Bruce: Yes there was, we taped something like the last 11 or 12 concerts of our tour but we taped both nights at Shoreline… I personally mixed several songs from those last two nights.
Question: On your Hot House CD what incident happened that prompted
the song Cruise Control, was it roller skating?
Bruce: (Bruce laughs!) I wonder where they came up with that! The song was prompted by a situation where my son Keith took a bad fall and I felt responsible for it and beat myself up mentally about it until I had to just give it up and get over it.
Border’s: Bruce, it’s been a pleasure to have you with us! Are there
any final thoughts you’d like to leave us with?
Bruce: I appreciate everyone listening all these years. We’ll be touring quite a bit next year, we still have a lot of shows this year. We’ll have a fairly extensive tour next year on this record..