Hello Nasty, where you been?
by Matt Worley
It wasn't quite as surprising as Whitney Houston, but the death of Adam Yauch (MCA) of the Beastie Boys was still quite a blow. Even in a year of lots of musical deaths. He was too sick to attend the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction last month, so there was a sense that this outcome was possible.
But I didn't really think about it like that at the time.
And so there's another band that will never perform again.
Licensed To Ill was one of those records that both thrilled and pissed off pretty much everyone. Parents were horrified (which made it better than it actually was). For a lot kids, it was the first time they heard rap on the radio. It was the first rap album to hit number one on the charts. And it was made by white boys (so a bit of mixed emotions by rap purists).
I wasn't a huge fan of rap in the 80s. As a drummer, the thought that my "job" in a band could be jettisoned for some computer kind of pissed me off. Even though Licensed To Ill is very much a rock album with rapping instead of singing (as I recall, the guitars were played by one of the guys from Slayer). Paul's Boutique is a classic rap album, the music comprised of a collage of samples that is impossible to replicate these days (at the time, samples weren't cleared).
My older brother had Licensed To Ill. But it was in college when I started listening to the Beastie Boys. Check Your Head is the Boys as a band, with MCA playing bass. Still with scratching and lots of hip hop influence. Kind of a stony disco album at times.
Death in rock and roll isn't new, obviously. I mean, the "day the music died" happened over 50 years ago. And the music didn't really die. But Buddy Holly didn't get to be the new Elvis. The late 60s and early 70s took some more at the prime of their musical prowess. Kurt's death was the most shocking, and happened right after I graduated from college. This fueled my belief that I'd die early. Say at age 27.
Adam's death is more about getting older. And it makes me think more about my own mortality than the others this year. He was much closer in age to me than Levon was. The Beastie Boys came out when I was in high school. And it was succumbing to disease (cancer of the salivary gland...which is odd, but still the body eating itself) rather than Whitney's bizarre party/drowning. Or Kurt's shotgun. Or an OD.
When these rock deaths happen, I always wonder how none of the guys in Motley Crue died during their sex and drugs fueled heyday. Even though they tried really hard to do so (and, technically, did, but were revived before it took).
I have Beastie Boys CDs, so that's how I've been listening to them the last couple of days. Check Your Head in my car. Hello Nasty on Friday night (Saturday morning) at my place.
I don't wonder so much who's gonna drop next. We're all getting older, and there will seem to be more of these than before because there are more famous musicians than there used to be. There are more famous people. And we all die eventually.
Which is a kind of "duh" statement, but that's what's hitting me today. The aches and pains turn into something more serious. The knee pops, the stiffness, the drop dead exhaustion. Sometimes it's just life. Sometimes it's something a little more serious.
Earlier this week (Thursday morning when I should have been sleeping), I had this waking dream of my wake. Everyone was really nice, and a lot of people came. For some reason, I couldn't stop crying.
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