Straight Edge: A Music Scene Based On Sobriety

Kenneth Lally, Contributor

Straight edge is an ideology born out of the hardcore punk rock scene in the East Coast in the 1980s. A straight-edge person is someone who avoids drugs, smoking (vaping and tobacco), promiscuous sex, and maintains a clear mind. Straight edge bands often sing about positivity and staying clean. Some band members and fans see this as a sort of lifestyle. Some straight edge bands are vegetarian or vegan, and a lot of them stay away from violence.

Minor Threat wrote the minute-long song “Straight Edge,” which was written by the lead singer, Ian Mackaye, who would eventually join the successful alt rock band Fugazi. This song speaks out against the singer’s experience seeing friends and fellow musical acts lose themselves to partying and irresponsibility. It glorifies the avoidance of drugs, drinking, and smoking, all while spreading a message of self respect.

Some bands, such as Have Heart, write positive lyrics about being an individual. Other bands, such as Earth Crisis, bring awareness to world issues such as climate change and animal rights. New York punk rock band Gorilla Biscuits “Cats and Dogs”, and Youth Of Today “No More” introduced many members of the movement to vegetarianism as well. Bands with straight edge members such as Shelter and 108, included lyrics about yoga and spirituality along with keeping their bodies clean and sober.

Over the years there have been many interpretations of straight edge, but one thing is certain: clarity of mind and body offers a person the opportunity to really hear the music.