Adam Yauch is Dead

I knew this day was coming. When the Beastie Boys announced that Adam Yauch would be to unable attend the group’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame my first thought was, Oh shit.

Three weeks later, my fears proved correct.

I loved the Beastie Boys the first time I heard them. A girl I knew told me there was a new song that I had to hear, that she knew I would love it. She was right, of course. What snotty 15 year old boy could resist the charms of “Fight For Your Right (To Party)”?

I bought the tape and enjoyed it for a while but then I pretty much forgot about them until college when friends turned me on to Paul’s Boutique. I remember thinking they were crazy to even bother giving that “joke” group a second chance. Boy, was I wrong. This was the very early 90s and I was just discovering Funkadelic and marijuana and N.W.A. and I was amazed these Bud-swilling dorks had gotten so cool.

I followed them from then on and started collecting the records they sampled on vinyl. In the early days of the internet I contributed everything I knew to a list of Paul’s Boutique Samples and References, including erroneously attributing the “Good God!” to Edwin Starr’s “War.” I tried for years to correct my mistake, but by then it was part of internet history. So yeah, that was me. Sorry.

I read an article somewhere that compared the three Beasties to three parts of the human psyche. Adrock was the id (impulsive), Mike D was the ego (organized), and MCA was the superego (the conscience). This always made sense to me and these verses from “Sure Shot” seemed to prove it:

I want to say a little something that’s long overdue
The disrespect to women has got to be through
To all the mothers and sisters and the wives and friends
I want to offer my love and respect to the end

Mike D:
Well you say I’m twenty something and I should be slacking
But I’m working harder than ever, and you could call it macking
So I’m supposed to sit upon the couch and watching my TV
Still listening to wax, I’m not using the CD

I’m that kid in the corner
All fucked up and I wanna so I’m gonna
Take a piece of the pie, why not, I’m not quitting
Think I’ma change up my style just to fit in

The theory oversimplifies things (in the next line Yauch rhymes about his underwear) but there’s some truth in it. And now the Beastie Boys have lost their conscience.

On January 7, 2011, in response to media reports that he had beaten his cancer, Yauch posted the following to the Beasties web site: “While I’m grateful for all the positive energy people are sending my way, reports of my being totally cancer free are exaggerated. I’m continuing treatment, staying optimistic and hoping to be cancer free in the near future.”

That didn’t happen. Cancer claimed another life. I’d love to believe that he’s in a better place, but I’m at least comforted by the fact that he’s no longer suffering from that horrible fucking disease.

4 thoughts on “Adam Yauch is Dead”

  1. This has kind of freaked me out. I came home after hanging out last night and listened to half of Paul’s Boutique. Probably the first time I’ve listened to the Beasties since last summer. That’s some serious follow the rabbit shit.

    And Jake, didn’t you submit the Alice Cooper “It’s Hot Tonight” sample ID for “What Comes Around”? That should more than make up for your other mistake.

  2. Aww. That’s the thing, he seems to have been genuinely good. Wasn’t it Yauch who did all that campaigning for Tibet? And his anti-misogyny lyrics make me like him even more. I never listened to the Beastie Boys. My roommate in Toronto used to play them but I never got into them. But I knew who they were and got to know their personalities, and I always liked MCA. Jake, I really like how you ended your article. Well said.

  3. I took Johnny Hall home from bball practice and he says this is for you. He pops in a cassette in my cream colored cutlass and Paul Revere is playing, my world changed.

    I don’t know what else to say except, this music shaped me and helped me through teenage hood.

  4. This hit me hard today… I was one of those under the impression he was getting better. MCA was my favorite Beastie before I knew them by name – best lyrics, best voice, best personality. Stacked up against Ad Rock and MIke D, that’s saying something. Hot Sauce Committee was a fantastic return to form – between the album and the videos, I thought “they’re back!”

    But, no – and I can hardly stand to think about it. What a horrible loss.

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