Today I lost one of my childhood heros. He was someone who never met me, but whom I knew intimately. He was someone who helped me through my most frustrating times and was with me nearly everywhere I went. As I grew older we spent less and less time together, but I never forgot him. He was a pioneer, a visionary, a prophet, a genius, a gift to humanity, to music and to me. His untimely death today came as a saddening shock as well as a stark reminder of my own aging. While thinking of all the times we had together, a flood of memories returned to me in the storm.
As I reached the latter part of my teenage years, I was turned on to the Beastie Boys. I think it was the Paul's Boutique album that finally broke my teenage rebellion of wanting to hate them because everyone else loved them. I was hooked, and it quickly turned into an obsession that did not wane for years. I loved everything Beastie, and collected as much paraphernalia as I could on my teenage job wages; posters, t-shirts, CDs, videos, etc. I prided myself on having every album I could find of theirs and even scored a few underground bootleg ones that have tragically gone the way of thieves during my travels. I knew all the words to all the songs and jammed them endlessly in my CD player and headphones. Listening to the Beastie Boys freed me in a way nothing else had. They were scrappy, loud, in your face, cool as hell, everything I longed to be. The Beastie Boys are singularly responsible for my life long love affair with hip hop music.
I remember when I learned the Beastie Boys were coming to perform a concert and McNichol's Arena to promote their Hello Nasty album. I was beside myself with excitement that only a teenage girl with a fierce obsession can have, and got a ticket as soon as I could! They were slated to play with A Tribe Called Quest, making it one of the biggest hip hop concerts of its time. The general admission ticket I purchased got me onto the floor of the concert arena, and because I showed up very early to wait in line to enter, I found myself in the very front row of the show. It was literally a dream come true, I had actually dreamed of being in the front row of a Beastie Boys concert prior to all of this and there I was, only feet away from my heros. I was able to sneak in a one-time-use camera and have photo evidence of this epic event of my youth. I thrived off of that high for years to come.
One of my fondest memories with the Beastie Boys was when I was living in Vail, Colorado. It was a gorgeous July afternoon and it had rained all morning. At about noon the clouds parted and the sun beat down on the mountainsides. I boarded the gondola and at the top of the mountain, I began to hike into an area where no other tourists or mountain bikers were; total isolation in the Game Creek Bowl. I had treated myself to a fair share of mushrooms for this hike and the vibrant colors of the forest and the wild flowers coupled with the leftover white clouds billowing above the mountain tops was nothing short of a spiritual experience. As I reached the top of my hike, I sat in one of my favorite places on all of Vail Mountain and listened to the same five Beastie Boys songs over and over from their album Ill Communication whilst looking out over a view of the Gore Range with a sea of wild flowers majestically laid out before me, straight tripping. To this day, the instrumental song "Eugene's Lament" with its powerful chords takes me right back to that moment and I am forever connected to the mountains when I hear that Beastie Boys' song. Often I'll listen to it just to take me back to that special day in my life.
Adam Yauch, known as MCA of the Beastie Boys, passed away today at the age of 47. I barely remember learning that he had been diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, but didn't really think twice about it. I'll be thinking more than twice now. . .
To MCA: Thank you, thank you, thank you for being in my life. You mean so much to so many and the world is a better place for having been blessed to witness your talent. You are an inspiration and you leave a grand legacy. You are missed!!!! R.I.P.
"What's gonna set you free? Look inside and you'll see. When you've got so much to say, it's called gratitude. . ." -The Beastie Boys