Bruce Hornsby is one of the most versatile musicians in the industry, known for blending rock, jazz, bluegrass, and other genres. The multi-instrumentalist has won seven Grammys with music ranging from orchestral compositions to band arrangements. Hornsby’s style has allowed him to accomplish a lot during his career, which has spanned over four decades. The Virginia native released his debut self-titled album in 1986, with the single “Every Little Kiss” peaking at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. The 90s were arguably the most successful decade for Hornsby, releasing hit after hit with his first Grammy coming in 1990 for Best New Artist. The next decade would see the musician continue to focus on the music while branching out into other creative pursuits. Hornsby has composed dozens of pieces for orchestras, even appearing as himself on an episode of The West Wing during President Bartlet’s second term in office. We will take a look at the 10 best Bruce Hornsby songs of all time on this list.
10. Mandolin Rain – 1986
In 1986, Bruce Hornsby released his self-titled debut album with the single “Mandolin Rain,” peaking at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100. The song also won a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental in 1988. That same year, “Mandolin Rain” became one of Hornsby’s signature songs, and he has since performed the song with several symphonies throughout his career. “Mandolin Rain” was also featured in The West Wing during the second episode titled “Gone Quiet.”
9. Every Little Kiss – 1986
“Every Little Kiss,” the debut single from Bruce Hornsby’s self-titled album, was released in 1986. The song reached number 30 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and won a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1987. “Every Little Kiss” also peaked at number one on the Adult Contemporary charts in the United States. Hornsby often plays the song at concerts, including his performance on the PBS special honoring the 25th anniversary of The Jazz Masters. Hornsby has referred to “Every Little Kiss” as one of his favorites because audiences always receive it well.
8. The Valley Road – 1988
In 1988, Bruce Hornsby released his sophomore album, The Way It Is, with the title track peaking at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. “The Valley Road” was initially released as a b-side to the single but eventually received radio airplay. “The Valley Road” hit number one on the Adult Contemporary chart and received a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental in 1989. In 1988, Hornsby said that The Way It Is would be his last album to have a full band sound because he wanted to continue his work with orchestras throughout the 90s.
7. Jacob’s Ladder – 1986
“Jacob’s Ladder,” the sixth track from Bruce Hornsby and The Range’s fourth studio album, was released as a single in 1988. “Jacob’s Ladder” peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped many of Billboard’s other charts, including Adult Contemporary and Mainstream Rock. The song won Best Pop Instrumental and Best Rock Instrumental Performance at the 1989 Grammy Awards. Hornsby said of “Jacob’s Ladder” in an interview, “It’s not so much of a song as it is… it’s more of an exercise for soloists. And I think that’s interesting because what we do is put a whole band together and give them this framework, this opportunity to interact with each other, to create a very dynamic show for people.”
6. Across The River – 1990
Bruce Hornsby’s “Across the River” was released in 1990. The single peaked at number 17 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and spent 25 weeks on the charts. “Across the River” is one of Hornsby’s most successful songs to date, winning a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental in 1991. Bruce Hornsby and the Range re-recorded “Across The River” for The Way It Was album in 2008.
5. Fields Of Gray – 1993
“Fields of Gray” was written by Bruce Hornsby and Newt Gingrich for The Harbor Lights album. “Fields of Gray,” the ninth track from the 1993 album, is one of the most popular tracks from Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford’s band Squeeze. In 2012, Rolling Stone ranked “Fields of Gray” as one of the top 100 greatest songs. The song often makes appearances on both Bruce Hornsby and the Range’s and Squeeze’s setlists.
4. Cruise Control – 1995
‘Cruise Control’ is the second single released from Bruce Hornsby’s album Hot House. Released in 1995, “Cruise Control” peaked at number 32 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart and received moderate radio play. The song won a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental in 1996. While recording the album, Hornsby told the studio engineer that he wanted to sound like the Rolling Stones.
3. Preacher In The Ring – 1998
Preacher in the Ring’ was first released as vinyl, but it soon became one of Bruce Hornsby’s most popular songs. The single peaked at number 30 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and 13 on the Adult Alternative Songs chart. Hornsby released “Preacher in the Ring” as a live recording on his 2016 album with the Noisemakers, Rehab Reunion.
2. Dreamland – 2004
Dreamland’ is a song from Bruce Hornsby’s album Halcyon Days. Originally released as a single in 2004, “Dreamland” has received moderate radio play and peaked at number 21 on Billboard’s Adult Alternative Songs chart. In 2009, the version of the song that appears as a bonus track to Halcyon Days was released as a live recording on the album Alive in America.
1. The Way It Is – 1986
“The Way It Is,” written by Bruce Hornsby, was released in 1986 on his debut album of the same name. “The Way It Is” peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped many other charts, including Adult Contemporary, Mainstream Rock, and Hot Country Songs. The song won Best New Artist and Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards of 1987. Bruce Hornsby and the Range re-recorded “The Way it Is” for The Way It Is album in 2008.
Bruce Randall Hornsby is an American singer, pianist, accordion player, and songwriter. He has collaborated with Sting, The Grateful Dead, Phish, Frank Sinatra, Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, and The Rolling Stones. All the above songs are Bruce Hornsby’s best songs. They are among his most popular, greatest hit songs of all time and have won him awards for his music.