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Monday, May 14, 2012

R.I.P: Adam Yauch aka MCA

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Adam Yauch aka MCA, one of the three Beastie Boys, died recently after a three-year bout with throat cancer. His death, and the ensuing media attention, caused me to reflect on why I still listen to the group’s music, including exposing my own kids to certain songs.

I was in the sixth grade when someone handed me the Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill cassette tape. I remember looking at the cover – of the airplane crashing into the cliff – and feeling something … a connection.

Maybe I felt what I did because my own adolescent life felt a bit out of control, like I was piloting something too big to control for the first time. Or maybe it was because I, too, felt like crashing into life’s cliffs in defiance of my parents and church leaders. At that age and time, things like girls, alcohol and vandalism were starting to be discussed and experimented with, and as a young Mormon boy I didn’t want to feel left behind.

I wasn’t actually exposed to the music until later that year, when a friend did a lip sync of You Gotta Fight For Your Right To Party for the sixth-grade talent show. The song became an anthem for me, even if I didn’t yet realize what partying really meant. Later, I listened to Paul Revere and remember being amazed that a story could be rapped. At the time, the Three Brothers and the Sheriff were relatable to me in ways the characters in the scriptures never were.

Subsequent albums, including Paul's Boutique and Check Your Head, influenced me in different ways yet still moved me to action, both positively and negatively. To this day, I continue to keep the Beastie Boys Anthology close at hand for a quick listen, most recently on the way up to our region’s church basketball tournament. (I needed something to get me angry, because that’s how church basketball is played, right?)

Over the years I’ve learned to miss more cliffs than I crash into, I’ve learned to party (you should see me after six Diet Cokes … I’m a mess) and I’ve learned to appreciate the characters in the scriptures in meaningful ways, but I’ll never stop being a Beastie Boy.

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