Anyone Can Do It: Empowerment, Tradition and the Punk Underground: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Anyone Can Do It: Empowerment, Tradition and the Punk Underground

1st Edition

By Pete Dale


256 pages

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For more than three decades, a punk underground has repeatedly insisted that 'anyone can do it'. This underground punk movement has evolved via several micro-traditions, each offering distinct and novel presentations of what punk is, isn't, or should be. Underlying all these punk micro-traditions is a politics of empowerment that claims to be anarchistic in character, in the sense that it is contingent upon a spontaneous will to liberty (anyone can do it - in theory). How valid, though, is punk's faith in anarchistic empowerment? Exploring theories from Derrida and Marx, Anyone Can Do It: Empowerment, Tradition and the Punk Underground examines the cultural history and politics of punk. In its political resistance, punk bears an ideological relationship to the folk movement, but punk's faith in novelty and spontaneous liberty distinguish it from folk: where punk's traditions, from the 1970s onwards, have tended to search for an anarchistic 'new-sense', folk singers have more often been socialist/Marxist traditionalists, especially during the 1950s and 60s. Detailed case studies show the continuities and differences between four micro-traditions of punk: anarcho-punk, cutie/'C86', riot grrrl and math rock, thus surveying UK and US punk-related scenes of the 1980s, 1990s and beyond.


'This is a history which deserves, indeed needs, to be told. That Dale has chosen to attempt to make sense of a subject so diverse and self-contradictory as this is laudable. If the anarcho-punk tenet ’there is no authority but yourself’ is to be followed, then he has admirably succeeded in proving his point - ’le punk est mort, vive le punk’. Penny Rimbaud, former member of Crass 'A long-needed study… promise[s] to become central to current research in the area of punk rock.' - North American British Music Studies Association Newsletter

“Dale’s study is theoretically informed and methodologically rigorous, mediating between close

readings of songs and historical, social, political and philosophical themes… The book is

commendably ambitious in its thematic range.” - Wilkinson, D., Worley, M. and Street, J. (2016) ‘“I Wanna See Some History”: Recent Writing on British Punk’, Contemporary European History

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Part I Anyone Can Do - What?: What is punk; The folk 'us'; Punk as folk; Conclusion to part I. Part II Can Any One Do 'It'?: Punk, avant-gardism and novelty; Marxism, anarchism and the issue of universality; Justice to come and the micromatic recoi; Conclusion to part IIl. Part III The Beginning of a Continuation: Interlude 1: an original rebirth?; There is no authority, but …; Indie pop ain't noise pollution; Conclusion to part III. Part IV The Continuation of a Beginning: Interlude 2: still birth?; The arrival of a new, renegade, girl-boy hyper-nation; Delivering the groceries at 138 beats per minute; Conclusion to part IV; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Pete Dale is renowned in the punk underground for his involvement in the Slampt Underground Organisation and groups such as Pussycat Trash, Milky Wimpshake and Red Monkey. His recent PhD research at Newcastle University explored the politics of punk. He taught music in a Gateshead secondary school for many years. He is currently Popular Music Fellow at Oxford Brookes University, UK.

About the Series

Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series

Popular musicology embraces the field of musicological study that engages with popular forms of music, especially music associated with commerce, entertainment and leisure activities. The Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series aims to present the best research in this field. Authors are concerned with criticism and analysis of the music itself, as well as locating musical practices, values and meanings in cultural context. The focus of the series is on popular music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, with a remit to encompass the entirety of the world’s popular music.

Critical and analytical tools employed in the study of popular music are being continually developed and refined in the twenty-first century. Perspectives on the transcultural and intercultural uses of popular music have enriched understanding of social context, reception and subject position. Popular genres as distinct as reggae, township, bhangra, and flamenco are features of a shrinking, transnational world. The series recognizes and addresses the emergence of mixed genres and new global fusions, and utilizes a wide range of theoretical models drawn from anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis, media studies, semiotics, postcolonial studies, feminism, gender studies and queer studies.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General
MUSIC / Ethnomusicology