Warning: The following facts about musician Bruce Hornsby may, or may not, be true.
He is writing a Broadway musical featuring overnight package deliverymen; he dressed in colonial costume to taunt tourists in Virginia; he formed a band called Schenectady; he once wrote a song about Danish nuclear physicist Niels Bohr.
Well, that's what he said in a recent interview with Reuters, although his tongue did appear to be firmly in his cheek while he was talking.
However, this much is true -- Bruce Randall Hornsby is one of America's most versatile musicians, having won Grammys for Best New Artist (1987), Best Bluegrass recording (1989) and Best Pop Instrumental (1993). His first big hit, The Way It Is, topped the charts in 1986.
When he's not making his own records or those of other artists, he is touring with his band or sitting in with surviving members of the Grateful Dead, or playing rock, blues, country or jazz.
His new album, Levitate, features Hornsby on piano, dulcimer, keyboard and vocals and includes an Eric Clapton guest track, one by Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter and an alternate version of a song from the Spike Lee film Kobe Doin' Work for which Hornsby provided the original score.
The banter starts when he is asked where he grew up in Virginia. Williamsburg, the tourist town.
You may have been dragged there in 7th grade on a field trip and we would have been the local townies pelting you with water balloons, or speaking gibberish to you, he says drolly.
Hornsby and his classmates would dress in tricorn hats and powdered wigs -- an image that triggers a long-ago remembered script and a sudden faux-English theatrical voice:
Are we so meek and pusillanimous...is it disloyalty and sedition to oppose the hand of tyranny?
Never, we are free Englishmen with the God-given right to tax ourselves. And we shall not yield this right, not to Parliament, not to the town and not to the King himself!
Hornsby looks pleased with himself: Spoken by a true Williamsburg person!
He notes the first track on Levitate is a song called Rats of London. It's about the bacterial strains in the rodents that came over in the ships and infected the locals.
Are you related to (British General) Cornwallis? he asks this English-born reporter
Well he's in there...the second verse goes: 'Parasites decimated the red army of Cornwallis and his flocks/standing weakly on Yorktown battlefield/ with measles and smallpox.'
So that enabled George Washington and the boys to beat the crap out of them, he laughs.
Many of the album's songs come from a musical he's writing, leading to the following exchange:
Is it bound for Broadway? Well, we'll see how far it goes. We're enjoying what we're doing, but I don't think we have a good ending yet.
What's it called? SCKBSTD
What does that mean? Well you can go and look it up yourself... It's inscrutable and mysterious.
It's top secret. I'd love to tell you about it but I fear for my safety, he says behind a wry smile.
Actor Brian Stokes Mitchell apparently wrote Hornsby after hearing his last album Halcyon Days, urging him to do a musical. We didn't want to write your standard cute-box musical and just recycle 'Valley Road' and 'The Way It Is.'
We first ran up the flag pole an idea about a Civil War re-enacter, we thought that was a funny little milieu. It's nutty, I'm not going to naysay it...but I find it to be an area that's ripe for comedy.
But once he discovered the idea had already been used in a play, Hornsby took a new tack.
It's about an ominous, foreboding set of events happening in our town, he says conspiratorially. We have such characters as the FedEx driver and the UPS driver and the postal delivery guy, who we call 'the Holy Trinity of Home Delivery.'
Hornsby's stage voice returns as he recites some lines: Guided by divinity/exemplary proficiency/three guys that you admire the most/FedEx, Brown and the holy post/while in our vicinity/they make our legs go quivery.
Hornsby says he's collaborating with an old Williamsburg friend, Chip. They wrote two plays together in high school and had one of them produced as a drama club production.
What an achievement? It was a complete load... the headmaster hated it!
He also recalled playing rock in high school at a time in the late 1960's and early 70's when it was popular to name bands after towns, such as Chicago and Boston. We chose the funniest sounding name we could find -- Schenectady (NY)
And we have a song called 'Curse You, Niels Bohr,' you know, the great Danish physicist.
The interview dissolves in laughter at the sheer absurdity of it.