I was nine when Licensed To Ill was released and I can only assume I heard it for the first time that year but I do remember who played it for me and that we were outside. Luke Turner had a dual cassette deck and so as we listened to it he dubbed me a copy. I lost my copy after a couple of listens but I remember sitting outside Luke’s house and hearing “Brass Monkey,” “Girls,” and “Paul Revere” for the first time. It didn’t seem like music to me, not in a crotchety old white guy kind of way but in a these people aren’t real kind of way.
I was living in Georgia at the time and growing up a somewhat sheltered life but thanks to Luke my world had opened up a bit. In previous visits to Luke’s house I saw my first dirty magazine and watched the long play video for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” For one of those awakenings his mother made me call home and get permission from my mom first. Thanks mom.
Some how I missed Paul’s Boutique when it was released, probably because I was a sheltered white boy in Georgia but there was no way to miss Check Your Head. The video for “So What-cha Want” was so bombastic and hallucinatory and “Pass The Mic” often played in the church van I rode in during high school. From Check Your Head I rediscovered Licensed To Ill. It was still awesome but as The Beastie Boys continued to prove, they were always up to something new, something you’d never see coming but glad you witnessed when it arrived. They were the MTV era and their videos continually recreate this notion of disbelief.
I don’t want to give the illusion that I was a live and die Beastie Boy fan, they were one of many many bands that influenced my teens, though I did perform “Paul Revere” with a couple of guys at a church camp talent show, but that’s a whole story on it’s own. But as I began to think more seriously about things so did The Beastie Boys. The Tibetan Freedom concerts were the kind of thing my friends and I only dreamed about attending. And magazines would always ask how the same group that sung about doing it with a baseball bat could now be so social conscious. Even at 17 it seemed like a dumb thing to say. We are who we become not who we once were.
When a friend sent me a text saying MCA had died I thought of those videos, “Sabatoge,” “Intergalactic,” “So What’cha Want,” and though I’d heard MCA had cancer it didn’t seem possible for a Beastie Boy to die. It still doesn’t. How could a Beastie Boy die when in my head they weren’t ever real?
I turned on the news after work. Martin Bashir was talking politics and whatnot but at the end of the show he noted the passing of MCA and that he was survived by a wife and a daughter. While writing this I found this video and took a break from writing to watch it. Wow. I don’t understand how a Beastie Boy can have cancer. They seem so imaginary and there is nothing about cancer that isn’t real. There are several people that work on this blog that have been recently impacted by cancer, myself included, and there may not be a more real thing than cancer. Cancer doesn’t give a shit about concerts and videos. More importantly cancer doesn’t give a shit about wives and daughters.
My facebook feed was populated all weekend with MCA and Beastie Boy shout outs. Friday night a friend showed up in a Beastie Boy t-shirt and I overheard several songs being played in the arena while watching the UFC on TV. Three immature dudes made one of the stupidest and illest records ever. Thankfully the world let them grow and change because they went on to make artistic records that only these three dudes could imagine.
So I’m guessing you’ve got a Beastie Boy story. Please share-come rock the “Sure Shot”