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Sells like Teen Spirit

Sells like Teen Spirit: Music, Youth Culture, and Social Crisis

Ryan Moore
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 286
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  • Book Info
    Sells like Teen Spirit
    Book Description:

    Music has always been central to the cultures that young people create, follow, and embrace. In the 1960s, young hippie kids sang along about peace with the likes of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez and tried to change the world. In the 1970s, many young people ended up coming home in body bags from Vietnam, and the music scene changed, embracing punk and bands like The Sex Pistols. In Sells Like Teen Spirit, Ryan Moore tells the story of how music and youth culture have changed along with the economic, political, and cultural transformations of American society in the last four decades. By attending concerts, hanging out in dance clubs and after-hour bars, and examining the do-it-yourself music scene, Moore gives a riveting, first-hand account of the sights, sounds, and smells of teen spirit.Moore traces the histories of punk, hardcore, heavy metal, glam, thrash, alternative rock, grunge, and riot grrrl music, and relates them to wider social changes that have taken place. Alongside the thirty images of concert photos, zines, flyers, and album covers in the book, Moore offers original interpretations of the music of a wide range of bands including Black Sabbath, Black Flag, Metallica, Nirvana, and Sleater-Kinney. Written in a lively, engaging, and witty style, Sells Like Teen Spirit suggests a more hopeful attitude about the ways that music can be used as a counter to an overly commercialized culture, showcasing recent musical innovations by youth that emphasize democratic participation and creative self-expression - even at the cost of potential copyright infringement.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-5952-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. 1 Anarchy in the USA
    (pp. 1-32)

    New York City, 1975: The events that would later be heralded as the origins of punk were taking shape. During the previous year, the band Television had begun performing regularly at a music club buried in the depths of the Bowery, CBGB’s. Television’s gigs were soon paired with the Patti Smith Group, and both bands found an audience among New York’s art rock crowd. Meanwhile, four self-styled hooligans from Queens had also formed a band and named themselves the Ramones; by 1975 their performances at CBGB’s—renowned for their ferociousness and brevity—had garnered considerable attention and a recording contract...

  5. 2 Reagan Youth
    (pp. 33-74)

    In 1980 the band that simply named itself X released their debut album,Los Angeles. The first cluster of punk bands that formed the Los Angeles punk scene in the late 1970s had been mostly imitative of their British predecessors, but X began to establish a unique regional style by recalling the images of Southern California that appeared in the hard-boiled pulp fiction and film noir of the 1930s and 1940s. Greil Marcus likenedLos Angelesto “[Raymond] Chandler’s L.A. without Phillip Marlowe” in the sense that “the songs are written and sung not from Marlowe’s point of view but...

  6. 3 Hell Awaits
    (pp. 75-113)

    Long Beach, California, 1985: The English heavy metal band Iron Maiden performs four shows on consecutive nights at the Long Beach Arena and records their concerts for the release of a live album,Live After Death. A 14-year-old ninth grader at the time, I didn’t go to any of the concerts. I was, however, immediately impressed by all the kids who showed up at my junior high school in the following days wearing Iron Maiden T-shirts depicting the band’s mascot, Eddie, as a kind of Egyptian pharaoh on the front and a list of dates for the “World Slavery Tour”...

  7. 4 Young, Gifted, and Slack
    (pp. 114-155)

    In late 1991 and early 1992, Nirvana hijacked the airwaves with “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” When their albumNevermindpassed Michael Jackson’sDangerouson its way to the number one spot on theBillboardcharts at the beginning of 1992, many people perceived that a significant shift in music and popular culture was underway. This shift was largely unanticipated because there had been few commercial successes within “alternative” music to date, and thus insiders at DGC, Nirvana’s record label, were modestly hoping thatNevermindmight become a gold record (sell 500,000 units) if management worked hard and the band toured...

  8. 5 Retro Punks and Pin-Up Girls
    (pp. 156-196)

    San Diego, 1995: In the beginning stages of my ethnographic research, I arrange to meet Matt Reese for an interview in a bar called the Live Wire. Matt had been a singer in various punk rock bands in San Diego for almost 10 years at that point, most recently in a band called Jalopy that centered on the band members’ shared enthusiasm for old cars. When I started interviewing people around the local scene and discussed plans to do further research, I was told on more than one occasion, “You gotta talk to Matt Reese,” because he was known and...

  9. 6 The Work of Rock in the Age of Digital Reproduction
    (pp. 197-218)

    In April 2000 Lars Ulrich, the drummer for Metallica, filed suit against Napster, the online music file sharing service that Ulrich charged with giving Metallica’s music away for free through the Internet. At roughly the same time, Napster would also be sued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), a coalition of recording companies led by A&M Records, as well as the rapper and producer Dr. Dre. Their actions targeted not only Napster but also individual consumers; the RIAA began prosecuting people for downloading music while Metallica and Dr. Dre collected lists of hundreds of thousands of Napster users...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 219-244)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 245-264)
  12. Index
    (pp. 265-274)
  13. About the Author
    (pp. 275-275)