Bruce Hornsby’s career has been marked by not only a brilliant collection of original albums but also his guest appearances with other bands, most notably The Grateful Dead. While never an official member of The Grateful Dead. Hornsby sat in with the Grateful Dead over a hundred times on stage. When Jerry Garcia died, Hornsby continued to work on many of The Grateful Dead’s side projects and bands. Bruce Hornsby’s own audience grew with fans of The Grateful Dead that began to follow Bruce Hornsby’s solo career.
It’s been a great joy to listen back on all these great Bruce Hornsby songs. Picking only ten proved to be a challenging task. Nonetheless, we hope you enjoy the Bruce Hornsby songs we selected for this list.
# 10 – Valley Road
We open our top 10 Bruce Hornsby songs list with the excellent track “The Valley Road.” The song was released on the album Scenes from the Southside. The album was released in 1988. The song “The Valley Road” was the first single released from the album. It became a top 10 hit for Bruce Hornsby, peaking at number five on the Billboard Hot 100. The song hit number one on the U.S. Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
# 9 – Across The River
The outstanding track “Across The River” was released on A Night on the Town. The album was released in 1990. The song hit number one on the U.S. Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. It also reached number 18 on the Billboard Hot 100. This is such a wonderful song that his core fans love. The piano introduction on this one is simply breathtaking.
# 8 – Barcelona Mona
Continuing our list of top 10 Bruce Hornsby songs, we turn to the great instrumental track “Barcelona Mona.” The song was released on the Harbor Lights album. The music was utilized for the Barcelona Olympics. The music was an artistic success for Bruce Hornsby, winning the artist a 1933 Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental. Bruce Hornsby uses dissonance in the opening piano licks, applying a mixture of suspended 2nds and 4ths to create a cinematic atmosphere.
# 7 – Every Little Kiss
Bruce Hornsby and The Range’s debut album had so many great songs on the record that we could have filled this entire list with songs from the record. The album was released in 1986. “Every Little Kiss” was the first single released from the album but was not a hit when it was first released. After the success of “The Way It Is,” the record company released “Every Little Kiss” for a second time. On the second try, the song became a top 20 hit. The song swings with a rhythm that is simply captivating. One can understand why this song was chosen as the first single from the album.
# 6 – King Of The Hill
“King Of The Hill” was the opening track on Bruce Hornsby’s fabulous album Spirit Trail. The album was released in 1998. The album’s cover below depicts Bruce Hornsby’s uncle, Charles Hornsby, lighting a cigarette in his ear. The album was released as a two-CD set. Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead played guitar on one of the album’s twenty tracks.
# 5 – A Night On The Town
The title track to Bruce Hornsby’s killer album A Night On The Town has always been one of our favorite Bruce Hornsby songs. A Night On The Town was Bruce Hornsby and The Range’s third album. It would be the last album released with the Range. All albums issued after would be credited to Bruce Hornsby. The album was released in 1990.
# 4 – Mandolin Rain
Bruce Hornsby and his band, the Range, won a Grammy in 1986 for best new artist with the release of their debut album that same year. One of the great tracks on the album was the beautiful song “Mandolin Rain.” The song was released as the third single from the album. After the massive success of “The Way It Is,” the song “Mandolin Rain” rode that wave and hit number four on the Billboard Hot 100.
# 3 – Spider Fingers
“Spider Fingers” was Bruce Hornsby’s attempt to get the credit he deserved as one of the best piano players in the business. Hornsby’s stunning performance on this track was one for the ages. The song “Spider Fingers” was released on the Hot House album. The album was released in 1995. A lot of practicing must have been done to play something so complex.
# 2 – Fortunate Song
There are songs that artists compose that are not necessarily commercial hits, but in time, they become huge fan favorites. Elton John’s “Harmony,” Springsteen’s “Sandy,” and Billy Joel’s “Vienna” are all examples of songs by artists that are classified as deep tracks that fans call their own. “Fortunate Son,” was that one special Bruce Hornsby song that stands out among his fans. If you don’t know this one, listen and you will hear what we are talking about.
# 1 – The Way It Is
Bruce Hornsby’s legendary song “The Way It Is” made the artist into a household name in 1986. It was one of the most jaw-dropping songs rock fans had heard in years. Music fans ate this one up. The Way It Is was one of the most powerful songs ever written on the issues of racism and civil rights. Its lyrics are powerful and the music all enthralling. It is a work of art that stands as one of the most influential songs ever written. It is also one of the most enjoyable songs that never gets old.
Updated February 16, 2024
Professional Sources, research, experience, and citations
Charting information used in the analysis and research of the commercial success of these songs comes from Billboard Magazine Charts
Other sources for important factual information include the band’s website
Further analysis and original thoughts are provided by the writer Brian Kachejian’s experience as a professional musician and music collector for over 50 years and his experience as a New York State certified music and history educator and professional music journalist with the New York Press.
These articles are updated regularly.
Top 10 Bruce Hornsby Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024
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