The relationship between music and youth culture is fraught with clichés. All the theorising imaginable, therefore, could not have provided me with a better understanding of this subject area than the thoughts and feelings of those young people that I have talked to over the past few years. It is difficult, in fact, to be sure of a particular moment when I started to write this book. The research began the day before 9/11 but many of the ideas emerged a long time before that. My Masters dissertation in 1999 covered similar ground, but perhaps the inspiration came a few years earlier during secondary school teacher training. As part of my training I devised a short - and very primitive–questionnaire for a Year 11 class. One question asked, 'Which item of popular culture would you choose to donate to your school library: A. a novel, B. a film, C. a computer or video game, D. a television show, or E. a music album?' Every one of the thirty respondents chose E. Subsequently I organised a lunchtime music club which met each week to exchange tastes and news about the latest 'thing'. At the same time I read several fascinating studies into children and television but wondered why, when music seemed to be far more important to young people, there was little comparable research into youth and popular music. The spark was lit and here is the end result. The discerning reader will note, however, that the term 'popular music' is conspicuous by its absence. Young people tend not to describe their music–consumed or produced–as 'popular' and in any case the range of different descriptors that they do use suggest the inadequacy of a singular category. 'Popular music' says just as little about music experienced in everyday life as 'youth' says about the different charxsacteristics of young people' severyday lives.
Many individuals and several institutions have helped to bring about this publication, and I certainly do not have the will or inclination to name them one by one. Perhaps most importantly of all, I would like to acknowledge a three-year University of Salford Research Studentship that helped