Richard Elliott is a cultural musicologist with a particular interest in popular musics of the world. He is the author of the books Fado and the Place of Longing: Loss, Memory and the City (Ashgate, 2010), Nina Simone (Equinox, 2013), The Late Voice: Time, Age and Experience in Popular Music (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015), The Sound of Nonsense (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018) and DJs do Guetto (2022, part of Bloomsbury Academic’s 33 1/3 Europe series) He has also published articles and reviews on popular music, literature, consciousness, ageing, memory, nostalgia, place and space, affect, language and technology.

Richard’s research interests are wide but mostly connect to ways in which music reflects and produces time, space and memorable objects. His early work explored the roles played by loss, memory, nostalgia and revolution in popular music and was heavily influenced by theories of place and spatiality. These ideas were developed in his first book Fado and the Place of Longing, which analysed Portuguese fado music as a reflection and production of space and place.

The topics of memory, nostalgia and revolution are also present in Richard’s book on Nina Simone, which combined history, biography and song analysis and which – unusually for publications about this artist – explored the whole of Simone’s career. As well as attending to the often-discussed role Simone played in the civil rights era of the 1960s, Richard discusses the artist’s late style and starts to outline his theory of the late voice.

Another ongoing theme in Richard’s work is the various ways in which music creates or evokes ‘memory places’ that take on significance for individuals and communities. More recent work reflects music’s potential to soundtrack lives and histories; His 2015 book The Late Voice explores the representation of time, age and experience in popular song, building its narrative around extended case studies of Ralph Stanley, Frank Sinatra, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. Richard has written further about late voice in the work of Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen, and in a study of the song ‘Who Knows Where the Time Goes‘, also contributing to an episode of the BBC series Soul Music devoted to that song. In a related vein, Richard’s article on popular music and aging features in the Encyclopedia of Gerontology and Population Aging.

The Sound of Nonsense, published at the very end of 2017 (with a 2018 publication date), reflects Richard’s interest in words, music and sound studies. It brings together novelists, nonsense writers, sound poets, experimental composers, comedians and pop musicians in an attempt to get at the role of sound in creating, maintaining and disrupting meaning. The book builds on ideas previously explored in two articles about the musician Robert Wyatt.

Richard’s other areas of specialisation include the global span of popular music styles from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, music and cultural theory, urban musicology, the poetics of song and the politics of authenticity. He has a background in a variety of disciplines, having gained a Bachelor’s degree in Comparative American Studies, a Master’s in Popular Culture and a PhD in Music.


Richard is currently conducting research on the materiality of song and on the representation of global popular musics in the phonographic era. This work is appearing in a variety of formats, including a podcast about songs and objects, an article about Newcastle singer-songwriter Richard Dawson’s object-oriented songcraft (forthcoming in Songwriting Studies), an entry in the 33 1/3 Europe series on DJs do Guetto (a 2006 compilation of Luso-African batida (beats)) and a chapter on the 1981 pop song ‘Japanese Boy’ for a collection about One-Hit Wonders.


PhD in Music, Newcastle University

MA in Popular Culture, Open University

BA (Hons) in Comparative American Studies, University of Warwick

Other Publications


DJs go Guetto (Bloomsbury Academic, 2022).

The Sound of Nonsense (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018).

The Late Voice: Time, Age and Experience in Popular Music (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015).

Nina Simone (Sheffield: Equinox, 2013). Series: ‘Icons of Popular Music’.

Fado and the Place of Longing: Loss, Memory and the City (Ashgate, 2010).


‘Aneka, “Japanese Boy” (1981)’, in One-Hit Wonders: An Oblique History of Popular Music, edited by Sarah Hill (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2022), 129-37.

‘Sounding Out Popular Music History: A Musicological Approach’, in The Routledge Companion to Popular Music History and Heritage, ed. Sarah Baker, Catherine Strong, Lauren Istvandity, Zelmarie Cantillon (London: Routledge, 2018), 46-54.

‘“Words Take the Place of Meaning”: Sound, Sense and Politics in the Music of Robert Wyatt’, in The Singer-Songwriter in Europe: Paradigms, Politics and Place, edited by Isabelle Marc and Stuart Green (London: Routledge, 2016), 51-64.

‘Words from the New World: Adventure and Memory in Patti Smith’s Late Voice’, in Patti Smith: Outside, edited by Claude Chastagner (Montpellier: Presses Universitaires de la Méditerranée, 2015), 113-35.

‘Across the Evening Sky: The Late Voices of Sandy Denny, Judy Collins and Nina Simone’, in Gender, Age and Musical Creativity, edited by Catherine Haworth and Lisa Colton (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015), 141-53.

‘You can’t just say “words”: Literature and Nonsense in the Work of Robert Wyatt’, in Litpop: Writing and Popular Music, edited by Rachel Carroll and Adam Hansen (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014), 49-62.

‘So Transported: Nina Simone, “My Sweet Lord” and the (Un)folding of Affect’, in Sound, Music, Affect: Theorizing Sonic Experience, edited by Marie Thompson and Ian Biddle (London: Bloomsbury, 2013), 75-90.

‘Public Consciousness, Political Conscience and Memory in Latin American Nueva Canción’, in Music and Consciousness: Philosophical, Psychological and Cultural Perspectives, edited by David Clarke and Eric Clarke (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 327-41.


‘The Reincarnation of an Egyptian Queen: Dystopian Lateness and Speculation in Nina Simone’s Afrofuturism’. Jazz Research Journal 15, no. 1-2 (2022): 25-50.

‘The Most Annoying Noise of All Time’. Australian Humanities Review 70 (2022): 58-66. http://australianhumanitiesreview.org/2022/11/30/the-most-annoying-noise-of-all-time/.

Brilliant Disguises: Persona, Autobiography and the Magic of Retrospection in Bruce Springsteen’s Late Career’, Persona Studies 5/1 (2019): 17-32. DOI: https://doi.org/10.21153/psj2019vol5no1art848.


‘Species of Sonic Spaces’, Literary Geographies 3/1 (2017):  69-86.

‘“My Tongue Gets t-t-t-”: Words, Sense and Vocal Presence in Van Morrison’s It’s Too Late to Stop Now’. Twentieth-Century Music 13/1 (2016): 53-76.

‘“Time and Distance Are No Object”: Holiday Records, Representation and the Nostalgia Gap’, Volume!, 11/1 (2014): 131-43.

‘The Choreography of Longing: Songs, Screens and Space in Carlos Saura’s Fados’, Quaderns de Cine 9 (2014): 71-8.

‘The Same Distant Places: Bob Dylan’s Poetics of Place and Displacement’, Popular Music and Society 32/2 (2009): 249-70.

‘Popular Music and/as Event: Subjectivity, Love and Fidelity in the Aftermath of Rock ’n’ Roll’, Radical Musicology 3 (2008). http://www.radical-musicology.org.uk/2008/Elliott.htm.
‘Aging and Popular Music’, in Encyclopedia of Gerontology and Population Aging, edited by Danan Gu and Matthew E. Dupre (Cham: Springer, 2020). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-69892-2_259-2.

‘Beatboxing’, in Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World (New York: Bloomsbury, 2018).

Revising author for the following entries in Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World originally authored by Richard Middleton:

  • ‘Singing’ (revised 2018)

  • ‘Solo’ (revised 2018)

  • ‘Song’ (revised 2018)

  • ‘Songwriter’ (revised 2018)

  • ‘Vocalized Tone’ (revised 2018)

  • ‘Voice as Instrument’ (revised 2018)


Blog Posts


    Songs and Objects podcast: https://songsandobjects.wordpress.com/


    Richard Elliott

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