Welcome to the web site for Baby, We Were Born to Tweet, a multi-year project about Springsteen Fans on Twitter. On this site you'll be able to find information about the project, documents relating to the project (including IRB applications, and related publications and conference presentations, and others), links to the on-going survey, and a blog containing the latest updates. Other items may be added over time.
First and foremost, I'd like introduce myself, though many of you may have seen me tweeting about Springsteen over the years. I've been a fan of Bruce Springsteen and his music for as long as I can remember enjoying music. Born and raised in central New Jersey, my introduction to Springsteen was, like many of my era, Born in the USA, which came out when I was 12. I have strong memories of listening to the cassette as I fell asleep. This happened every night for at least a year. A poem I wrote back in high school about wasting ones youth working a factory job has the lines: "I, shirtless, sitting / On the hood of a Malibu Classic / Listen to Bruce Springsteen on the radio // Singing about Roy Orbison singing / About the lonely." From Born in the USA I moved on to Born to Run and then his others as I brought home records from Princeton Record Exchange. (I now play these records for my 2 year old son.)
My understanding of Springsteen as a larger cultural figure came by reading Jim Cullen's Born in the USA: Bruce Springsteen and the American Tradition. Cullen's book was published in 1997, one year after I saw Bruce at the Cincinnati Opera House. That was my second time seeing Bruce, and the last for many years. Graduate school for my PhD in Austin, Texas, meant I had little time for concerts--and Bruce never made it to Texas. But, in 2006 I found myself back in New Jersey, and in 2008, when Bruce brought the Magic tour to Giants Stadium, I got tickets. The concert was transformational, even from my seat in the opposite end zone mezzanine. That started a run of seeing him 10 times in the last 4 years. My big regret is not seeing the Seeger Sessions tour.
"I'm a very big fan myself. I have the mentality of a fan. 'Fan' means to me what I said about Elvis: to love someone unconditionally because what that person is doing makes part of your own dreams come true. . . ."
Bruce Springsteen (1982)
That also started my interest in pursuing scholarship about Springsteen, his music, and, as with this project, his fans. I have presented about Springsteen's music and his cultural legacy at the 2009 and 2012 Springsteen Symposiums, and have begun presenting about my observations on the Springsteen fan community on Twitter at conferences for my own field, rhetoric and composition. You can see this work on the Documents section of this web site.
I write all this with the hope that you see that this project emerges out of a curiosity about something that I myself am: a Springsteen fan. Too often scholars peer into fan communities that they themselves are not a part of. The result is that they are often seen as voyeurs, peeping Tom's peering in to a fan community's window. While my overall goal is to learn more about the nature of fan communities, and especially why community members decide to tweet, I also hope that talking with Springsteen fans will bring me to a better understanding of what makes me a fan of his work, why I am compelled to tweet about it, write about it, and continually scroll through the hundreds of artists in my iTunes collection only to pick Springsteen once again.
Thanks, again, for visiting!