History of Bruce Springsteen

This visualization (interactive version here) is a musical history of one of my favorite artists: Bruce Springsteen. It focuses on his 200 songs and 17 original studio albums over a 45 year career. This viz was inspired by the work of Federica Fragapane and Giorgia Lupi. I wanted my viz to balance the complex, abstract artistry of their work with detailed narrative insights from Bruce's autobiography: Born to Run. 




This visualization was created using Tableau (final visualization), R (data cleaning, pre-processing), GIMP (images, headers), and MS Excel (data collection). The data comes from this Spotify API, Bruce's autobiography, and Wikipedia.


I have wanted to do a visualization of this style for some time. A non-conventional data visualization with rich but abstract elements. I particularly love Federica's visualization on Bob Dylan's words and Giorgia's The real Montalbano! viz. These are beautiful, meticulously crafted static visualizations. And I wanted to create something similar but interactive in Tableau. 

I sketched the following visualization for one album (1st sketch) and the general layout (2nd sketch).




The final product ended up pretty similar to this sketch which, for me, is rare.

Every vertical line is a Bruce Springsteen album over time left (old) to right (new). Each album line has 8 visual encodings broken into three sections. Section 1 (top): album order, song popularity, and most popular song by album. Section 2 (middle): song types by energy and valence levels. Section 3 (bottom): album sales rank, album sales status, album duration, and E Street Band member participation. Some use traditional visual elements (song popularity is a dot plot) and some use new visual elements (E Street Band member as feathers).

But with such a complex visualization with so many abstract elements a legend is very important. Tableau's new feature viz-in-tooltips frees up a lot of the real estate I would need to explain the viz. The legend key visualization in the how to read tooltip was pretty annoying to create but worth it for the real estate.

With that real estate I was able to write a long accompanying narrative that allows the reader to dig deeper into the viz and gain new insights provided by Bruce's autobiography: "Born to Run". And I was also able to sprinkle in some additional context and insights into the tooltips throughout the viz itself.

Overall I am happy with the final product. Thank you to Pooja Gandhi for the color help. Please let me know if you have any feedback or questions in the comments below.

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