The Beastie Beastie Boys

Just like everyone else in the world, I had a weekend. Some celebrated their weekend. Some, the poor things, don’t experience any of the constructive laziness we, in the industrialized world, know as a weekend. During my weekend, I did something relatively strange: I listened to music. A month ago, that would not have been strange, but, now? It’s downright weird. In short, I’m recovering from my music-hating phase and, as the title may suggest recovering with the help of the Beastie Boys. Historically, as in way back in high school, I hated the Beastie Boys. Now, as an official adult, I’ve grown to love them.

The Beastie Boys – Adam Horovitz, Adam Yauch and Michael Diamond

Why would a person hate the Beastie Boys? Well, aside from just not having a taste for that kind of music, it could be, as it was for me, just the obnoxiousness of their early material. Honestly, the entire song “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)” is pretty idiotic, more so for the idiots I saw getting in to it. It tapped the same drunk jock crowd that, in earlier years would be loudly singing “I wanna rock and roll all night and party ev-uh-ry day.” To be completely honest, I automatically decided against that song (both of them) for the crowd it attracted. I still hate that them, I do not hate that other people love them. Songs mean different things to different people and I am perfectly fine with that. From what I’ve heard, that song and that crowd overly defined the Beastie Boys themselves, painting themselves into the frat crowd corner. But, let’s be honest some more, shall we? Two other singles from that same album — “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” and “Hold it Now, Hit it” — were really quite good.

Among all the silliness and juvenalia (another dirty-sounding word), the Beastie Boys have an art to them, a kind of respect for creativity that, once they escape their early hits, let’s them just be whatever they want to be. They sit in the creative middle between several easy-to-reach creative traps. They write fun, even funny songs, and yet don’t quite reach the Weird Al trap. They have a somewhat distinctive, not-quite modern sound that they hold to without letting it get stale. Sure, they’re not Rachmaninoff or Four Tet or John Zorn, but they don’t have to be. We already have all of those or, in Rachmaninoff’s case, people willing to play them. With just a simple head-nodding bouncy-not-twitchy groove, you’ve already accomplished most of what’s necessary. Add in all that other stuff (rapping, instruments, Indian spirituality, random hardcore songs) and you’ve reached exactly what I needed this weekend.

So, this weekend, I found myself driving up north past the the various flood waters filtering from mountains to prairie on an adventure, courtesy of Jeremy and Lisa (the full story belongs to them). Driving up, I actually wanted to listen to music. My friend, the music, was back! I felt light well physically light and emotional, a little lighter than before, so I needed light music. There they were, the Beastie Beastie Boys. How on earth did they come up with “stere-ere-o” as a lyric? I don’t know, but they did and, for a little while, it was my friend.

27 thoughts on “The Beastie Beastie Boys

  1. Glad to hear that Ad Rock, Mike D, and MCA could be there for you this weekend. And I find it strange that when I was a teen I couldn’t stand the Beastie Boys either, yet when I got older I loved them…and still do. Maybe it’s because after that first album they couldn’t stand themselves either. That, and they became more introspective and creative once they started smoking a ton of weed.

    The weed really helped.

    • I think it was definitely their introspection. Plus, they gained a degree of subtlety. “Fight for Your Right” was, apparently, designed as a parody, but it was so broad it didn’t look like it. Later, the jokes were smaller or subtler and, thus, much more listenable.

      Since I started getting music digitally, the Beastie Boys are the most-purchased. Of course, they’re also quite prolific so that could play a factor, too … damn I went all statistical on you!

  2. I have bought Licensed to Ill on vinyl, tape and twice on CD. I songs from that album on my Ipod Touch and I always love hearing those songs. I got Paul Revere in my head right now. I’m Mike D and I get respect :)

  3. I wasn’t a Beastie Boys fan back in their day either, probably still not, but its been a while. I am happy to hear you are at least listening to something resembling music!

  4. They’ve always been my joint faves (along with AC/DC), from early teens onwards – getting more complex as I did. Can’t beat a bit of uncomplicated from time to time.

    • REM used to play that role for me. Luckily, I loosened up! Nothing against REM, but I need my silly music, the grown up version. I particularly like that they kept a version of their signature sound without becoming self-parody.

  5. It’s funny, I couldn’t stand the Beastie Boys when I was younger. I frequently find myself singing their songs aloud now, especially in the car. All I can think is, why? Maybe I just appreciate their uniqueness more now…

    • For me, I had to stop being such a grown up and just have fun. At the same time, the Beastie Boys grew up a bit. On an upcoming road trip, I can guarantee they’ll get lots of air time … gotta counteract Wyoming roads somehow!

Am I wrong?