The poetics of recorded time

Listening again to popular music history


  • Paul Long Monash University



Popular music history, historiography, heritage


This article explores how the possibilities of historical thinking are particularly unimpeded across a wealth of practices circulated around and in popular music. These possibilities are expressed in and about the creative form, mediation, reception and preservation of popular music to the degree that one might speak of a rhetorical imaginary or poetics of history. Extending beyond disciplinary horizons and expectations, this poetics is productive for listening again to and with popular music as historical source and as a conduit to a broader understanding of the past. This poetics is of particular interest in light of what the article identifies as a broad ‘historical turn’ in popular music which demands reflection. In response, the article seeks to explore the way in which recordings work as source, in, of and from history to prompt discussion around the historiographical consciousness of popular music studies. It does this by using encounters with a recording of ‘Some of These Days’ in Sartre’s novel Nausea as an illustration of the longestablished nature of the poetics discussed in the context of new questions presented by the contemporary ‘turn’.

Author Biography

Paul Long, Monash University

Paul Long is Professor in Creative and Cultural Industries, Communications and Media Studies at Monash University. He has written extensively on popular music history, heritage and archives in which a core theme of cultural justice informs much of this work. With Phil Jones and Beth Perry, he has recently published Cultural Intermediaries Connecting Communities: Revisiting Approaches to Cultural Engagement (Policy Press, 2019).


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How to Cite

Long, P. (2020). The poetics of recorded time: Listening again to popular music history. Popular Music History, 12(3), 295–315.