Friday, May 4, 2012
First of all, Fuck.
Now whilst I literally could not have cared less what the Beastie Boys have been up to since 'Ill Communication' came out in 1994, there was a time when I held that trio of lovable idiots from Brooklyn dearer to my heart than any other.
I remember circa 'Check Yo Head' chewing the ear of anybody who would listen proclaiming them the greatest band on the planet. I remember a vivid dream I had after watching them at Reading in 1992 involving them hugging me despite my inability to rhyme (In retrospect this was blatant homoeroticism). I remember where I was when I bought my cassette copy of Pauls Boutique and before that License to Ill.
I also recall the youtube video posted by the band not so long back in which Adam Yauch told the world he had cancer of the lymph gland, that it was treatable, that they had caught it in time. There was something truly touching about that post. I hadn't even thought of the band in two decades but the news touched me, served to remind me of the fragility of life and the persistence of time. It also got me thinking about how entwined with the memories of my formative years this band are.
1986, I am invited to my first high school party - This is a big deal, at my school there were two types of people, those who were invited to parties and those who weren't. It was only through geographical fate and a favor called in by a far more popular friend that I didn't spend that Saturday night like every other before it - Sat watching late night TV, waiting to see if there would be even the briefest of glimpses of nudity, side boob even.
The party: This was how you get to meet girls, it was where you got drunk. It was generally regarded as the first rung on the ladder of adulthood. The party took place in a barn, on a farm, on hay bails. Anyway, I needed to bring a present. That present was the 7" of 'No Sleep Til Brooklyn'. At the time records were a popular choice of gift and anything in the top 40 was generally regarded as fair game, the band were surfing something of a wave of popularity their reputation of beer swilling frat boys intent on offending galvanized by Britain's popular press. The Beastie Boys were in the Top 20 and there was not a Volkswagen car in the land without a circular hole in it's grill... The fact that the host had a clear preference for the band Erasure (also popular at the time) was momentarily forgotten as I handed over £1.20 for the gift in my local Woolworths.
Later that night I got drunk, I met a girl, a girl called Lissa Bradley. I can remember it like it was yesterday. We walked away from the noise, half a can of lager, holding hands and on that hot summers night in the middle of a hay field we kissed, as we did muffled and from the distance I heard the words 'no, sleep 'til...' crackle to life from a shitty PYE stereo.
Even as a greying and jaded porned-out 38 year old who thinks nothing of watching Japanese girls shit on each other I can still appreciate the beauty of that moment. It was fucking Hollywood. It was a kiss that went on forever, it's frozen in time.
Now however many years later the two, that first kiss and the Beastie Boys are inexorably linked, memories that will live and die together.
I hadn't thought about them much at all since, assuming wrongly that they had caught the cancer in time, that there was another god awful album (Hot Pepper Sauce Brigade Part 1 or something) just around the corner but no. Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys died today. He was 47.
He is in my thoughts and memories.