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  • September 2012
    M T W T F S S
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Art by Cynthia Connolly. © Dischord Records

So recently I was talking music with a friend at the library.  “My favorite band’s Rise Against,” they proudly exclaimed.

“Cool,” I said.

At some spot along our ensuing point-by-point analysis of Rise Against, I added something like, ‘…and they’re mostly all straight edge too – except for the drummer, I think.’

“What’s that?”

I had a full-on Jack Skellington eureka moment:  Yes!  Blog post idea!


Basically, straight edge is a lifestyle choice.  At its core, it’s a personal decision to not drink alcohol, do drugs, or have promiscuous sex.  Many people who identify themselves as straight edge are also vegan or vegetarian and are against the use of violence; however, these beliefs are not central to being ‘straight’ (a word used to describe one’s desire to remain in control of themself, rather than in the sense of a sexual orientation).

Art by Susie Josephson and Jeff Nelson. © Dischord Records
The letter X is sometimes used to symbolize straight edge – this stems from the punk shows of the early 1980s where kids would have Xs marked on the backs of their hands to distinguish that they were too young to drink.

The straight edge mentality grew primarily out of the American hardcore punk scene of the early 1980s.  When punk began in the mid-1970s, it was a direct response to the pretentiousness and excess of mainstream 70s rock music.  However, by the close of the decade and the beginning of the 80s, punk too had become riddled with the same familiar vices it had set out to destroy.  Straight edge, in a way, was a punk reaction to punk itself.  It presented a new opposition in saying that alcohol and drugs do not make you look cool and are not needed to have a good time.

Ian MacKaye

A guy named Ian MacKaye is often credited with either creating or naming and propelling the straight edge “movement” – although this was never his intention.  As the singer in an awesome band called Minor Threat, Ian MacKaye wrote lyrics that expressed his personal ideals of not drinking, doing drugs, or having random sex.  One of these Minor Threat songs, Straight Edge, gave the mindset its name.  MacKaye later went on to form Fugazi, who, in this blogger’s less than humble musical opinion, were the most important band that has ever existed.

Give a listen.  A few great bands with straight edge members:

FugaziCheck them out!
Minor ThreatCheck them out!
AFICheck them out!
Anti-FlagCheck them out!
ConvergeCheck them out!
Have Heart

Fiction Fix:


Jon : Carrick

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