Straight Edge (song)

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"Straight Edge"
Song by Minor Threat
from the album Minor Threat EP
Released June 1981 (1981-06)
Genre Hardcore punk
Length 0:46
Label Dischord
Songwriter(s) Ian MacKaye
Producer(s) Ian MacKaye, Minor Threat
Minor Threat EP track listing
  1. "Filler" – 1:31
  2. "I Don't Wanna Hear It" – 1:13
  3. "Seeing Red" – 1:02
  4. "Straight Edge" – 0:46
  5. "Small Man, Big Mouth" – 0:55
  6. "Screaming at a Wall" – 1:31
  7. "Bottled Violence" – 0:55
  8. "Minor Threat" – 1:27

"Straight Edge" is a track from Minor Threat's 1981 eponymous debut 7" EP, later reissued both as part of the 1984 collection Minor Threat, then as part of 1989's Complete Discography. The song was the inspiration for the name of the punk subculture straight edge.[1]

Cultural impact[edit]

The song provides a very succinct summary of Ian MacKaye's interpretation of the straight edge philosophy, in the four opening lines,

I'm a person just like you

But I've got better things to do
Than sit around and fuck my head

Hang out with the living dead.

This anti-inebriation movement had been developing in punk prior to this song,[2] but the song was a major influence in giving the scene a name, and in frontman Ian MacKaye, something of a (somewhat unwilling) figurehead.[3] The song is also notable as being, at 46 seconds long, unusually short, especially considering its cultural impact. The track's themes were later followed up, and further detailed by the later Minor Threat songs "Out of Step (With the World)" and "In My Eyes".

Critical reception[edit]

Along with being cited regularly as an important moment in founding the Straight Edge punk scene, the track has continued to receive critical plaudits, with Pitchfork Media stating that "Straight Edge" "rings with as much immediacy as it ever has",[4] while AllMusic's Blake Butler describes it as an "anthemic, pulse pounding manifesto", citing "this song's importance in the progression of hardcore".[5]


NOFX cover version[edit]

Punk band NOFX covered the song on their 1992 album White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean. The song is played with a jazz melody, and sung in the style of Louis Armstrong.


  1. ^ Cogan, Brian (2008). The Encyclopedia of Punk. New York: Sterling. ISBN 978-1-4027-5960-4. 
  2. ^ Haenfler, Ross (2006). Straight Edge: Hardcore Punk, Clean Living Youth, and Social Change. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-3851-3. 
  3. ^ Azerrad, Michael (2001). Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981–1991. New York: Little, Brown and Company. p. 121. ISBN 0-316-78753-1. 
  4. ^ "Minor Threat First Demo Tape review". Pichfork Media. 
  5. ^ "Minor Threat Straight Edge". Allmusic.