Update: I’ve co-written (with John Plunkett) an expanded account of Bruce Springsteen’s sampling of “Last Words of Copernicus” for the first issue of The Sacred Harp Publishing Company Newsletter: “Bruce Springsteen’s Sacred Harp Sample.”
Bruce Springsteen’s new song “Death to My Hometown” samples Alan Lomax’s 1959 recording of “Last Words of Copernicus”—an 1869 tune from The Sacred Harp composed by Georgia-based Sacred Harp singer Sarah Lancaster. A setting of a stanza from a 1755 hymn by Philip Doddridge, Lancaster’s tune creatively re-imagines the words as having been spoken by the sixteenth-century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.
2 thoughts on ““Last Words of Copernicus” in Bruce Springsteen’s “Death to My Hometown””
Bruce Springsteen visits Asbury Park fairly frequently.
I organized a SH singing school and demonstration in the Convention Hall the weekend of the Smithsonian’s “Music on Main St.” celebration and there was a Bruce sighting.
Chris Noreen told me about the reported sighting and then later about the use of the Sacred Harp tune on the new album. We both know that, practically speaking, Bruce Springsteen has many folk music avenues that could have led him to Sacred Harp but we want to believe he heard the wonderful group of singers in the Convention Hall that day.
Thanks Linda—interesting connection!
I’ve posted a somewhat expanded piece on Bruce Springsteen’s Sacred Harp sample, co-authored with John Plunkett, to the new Sacred Harp Publishing Company Newsletter. Take a look!