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I Will Never See all of the Beastie Boys Live

Adam Yauch with daughter Tenzin Losel Yauch / Photo courtesy of Polaris)

Words by Katrina Swan

In 1986, I was 8 years old, and already knew what good music was. Well, at least I knew how good it felt to jump around in my underwear on the couch with MTV blaring “Fight For Your Right,” singing along as loud as I could. The Beastie Boys is one of the first bands I ever loved. Those three guys and all their nonsense and inappropriate lyrics are what introduced me to hip-hop. I was surrounded by people who loved hair bands, heavy metal, country music, and NKOTB, and all I secretly wanted was to rock out to the beats of three white (sorta Jewish) New Yorkers.

Sadly, I did not purchase my first Beastie Boys’ record until I was nearly 15 years old. Check Your Head came on a cassette, covered in a black-and-white photo of the three, fine young boys themselves. I listened to that album over and over to the point of ruining the tape. A couple years later, just before heading overseas for a year, I purchased Ill Communication. It was one of many cassettes I listened to on my Walkman as a reminder of home. It was my “go-to” music when I met with the exchange students in my tiny town and we shared music from our home countries. For me, the Beastie Boys were America. They were home. They were my childhood, my security blanket. To this day, I seem to listen to them when I need to be comforted, to feel good. I never realized that, until the past two years. There have been a lot of bad days, and I have listened to a lot of the Beastie Boys.

Maybe this is why the death of Adam Yauch, on May 4, was such a shock to me. A loss of what had been my innocence. A loss of what had been my youth, what had been me before I knew how hard life could be. Maybe it’s my intimate knowledge of a cancer diagnosis, and knowing the infinite emptiness brought on by a death from cancer. Whatever the reason, losing MCA hit me harder than any other celebrity death. He had grown into a beautiful, peaceful man who devoted his life to making the world a better place. And I will never have the honor of seeing him perform live. I do not regret much in life, but as of May 4 , 2012, I regret never having seen the Beastie Boys live.

Unfortunately, I know how Ad-Rock and Mike D feel right now– confused, in disbelief, wishing it weren’t true. They lost someone they loved deeply. As Mike said, they lost their brother. I can only hope that they get through this with strength and love. And I wish them peace as they work through it all. The Beastie Boys will never be the same, but the music they made and MCA’s voice will always sound as good as it did when I was eight years old.

Rest in peace, Adam Yauch.

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