Iconic ’80s hitmaker Bruce Hornsby has had a long and diverse career, and that career is still going strong. Tomorrow, he releases the new album Absolute Zero, which features contributions from Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Sean Carey, Brad Cook, Blake Mills, yMusic, and more. And today, he stopped by our office in Midtown Manhattan to play a few songs from it in a stripped-down Stereogum Session on solo piano.
Hornsby opened with “White Noise,” a song inspired by David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King that he described as “a song about IRS tax examiners and CPAs as American heroes.” After the performance, he explained that it was born out of a string quartet film cue, originally called “Eleanor Supreme,” that he wrote for Spike Lee. “He never used it. I don’t know what he thought about it,” Hornsby said. “But it always sounded like a song to me, so I finally got into the space to write over that cue.”
Next, Hornsby played a solo version of the lovely Justin Vernon duet “Cast-Off,” which also started out as a film cue for Spike Lee. And he wrapped up the session by performing one new song, “Fractals,” and one old song — his 1986 hit “The Way It Is,” which he introduced as “a Tupac Shakur song.” (Tupac sampled “The Way It Is” on his posthumous hit “Changes.”) Watch Hornsby’s full Stereogum Session below.
Absolute Zero is out 4/12.