Empire of Dirt

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Empire of Dirt: The Aesthetics and Rituals of British Indie Music
Paperback cover
AuthorWendy Fonarow
CountryUnited States
PublisherWesleyan University Press
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardback and paperback)

Empire of Dirt: The Aesthetics and Rituals of British Indie Music is a 2006 book by Wendy Fonarow.[1]


The title of the book comes from one verse from the song "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails ("and you could have it all, my empire of dirt"). While writing the manuscript, Fonarow was given a vinyl edition of the Johnny Cash album American IV, which includes a cover of "Hurt", by Alan McGee, founder of Creation Records.

The cover, designed by Matthew Cooper, depicts a typical indie band (2 guitarists, a bass player and a drummer all thin) in silhouette (see sleeperbloke).

In chapter 1 the author discuss 'What Is "Indie"?'. A problem with defining indie is that any precise definition will exclude music and performers which indie fans and insiders feel should be included or include ones that should be excluded.[2] These are some possible definitions:[3]

  1. Indie music is the one which is recorded by independent labels and distributed via independent distributors. Records distributed via independent distributors qualified for the UK Indie Chart.
  2. a genre of music with a distinctive sound and style.
  3. music that communicates a particular ethos.
  4. a category of critical assessment.
  5. music different from other genres like mainstream pop, dance, blues, country or classical.



  1. ^ Paperback: ISBN 978-0-8195-6811-3, Hardcover: ISBN 978-0-8195-6810-6.
  2. ^ page 25
  3. ^ page 26

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