I was doing a little research on Rise Against before my afternoon shift on 99X the other day, when I read that most of the members of the band are "straight edge".  I don't know if I've been living in a swamp in Bogalusa or what, but that was a new term for me.

So, that meant I had to Google "straight edge" to find out what it's all about.  According to Wikipedia, "'Straight edge' is a subculture of hardcore punk whose adherents refrain from using alcohol, tobacco and other recreational drugs, in reaction to the excesses of punk subculture."

The movement's beginnings can be traced back to the early 1980's to a band called Minor Threat.  Their song "Straight Edge" is commonly regarded as the song that started it all, even though band members said they never intended to start a movement.  After starting in Washington, D.C., straight edge quickly spread throughout the U.S. and Canada.  Musically, the genre was characterized by shouted rather than sung vocals.

The letter "X" became the symbol for the movement and is commonly tattooed on the backs of the hands of straight edge band members.  When written, straight edge is often abbreviated as "sXe", or "XXX".

Over the years, straight edge has become more synonymous with a lifestyle choice than with the music that started it.  Rise Against has been called "melodic hardcore", but their music bears little resemblance to that of early straight edge bands; though their lyrics lean decidedly to the left as their progenitors' did.

I bring all this up because today is actually National Edge Day which is pretty much self-explanatory.  It was founded in 1999 as part of the promotion of the EdgeFest concert in Boston, and has been observed on October 17th ever since.  So, if you've been thinking about living a cleaner, more sober lifestyle, today would be a great day to start.

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