I’ll be presenting new work on Bruce Springsteen’s audiobook Born to Run at the inaugural International Persona Studies Conference, which takes place at Newcastle University on the 25th and 26th of June. This work relates to an article I’ve written on Born to Run (the book and audiobook) and Springsteen on Broadway, due to be published any day now in an issue of Persona Studies dedicated to musical persona. The conference paper takes a different tack to the article, focussing on the role that sound plays in the maintenance of persona.
Absract for the conference
‘You’ll need a good companion for this part of the ride’: Navigating Bruce Springsteen’s Sonic Persona in the Born to Run Audiobook
Listening to Bruce Springsteen read his autobiography Born to Run (2016) on its audiobook version provides an interesting mixture of familiarity and strangeness for Springsteen fans. Those of us who have followed the artist for some time are likely to be familiar with his speaking as well as his singing voice, yet we are given a different voice here, one engaged with faithfully rendering a 510-page book into an eighteen-hour recording. Those who have read the book will also be familiar with the narrative voice employed by Springsteen as prose-writer; again, the audiobook provides a quite distinct experience. In attempting to get at what is particular to this audiobook experience, I will employ the concept of ‘sonic persona’ as elaborated by Holger Schulze (2018). I will argue that the sonic persona attributable to Springsteen in his marathon reading project is distinctly new but still connected in important ways to his musical persona. Employing a phenomenological reading of Born to Run, I aim to highlight ways in which approaches from philosophy, aesthetics and sound studies can potentially inform the emerging discipline of persona studies. Additionally, from a popular music studies perspective, this paper aims to present a different kind of musical persona to that often attached to pop musicians, one that emerges in the specific media space of the audiobook.