On May 4th, 2012, Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys passed away. While to many, celebrity deaths offer short moments of reflection followed by a field day for gossip rags, I’ve never really cared that much about any of them. Even the death of Steve Jobs, which many thought would bum me out, didn’t really affect me at all. Celebrities really don’t have that big of an impact on my life (even Steve Jobs), and all death is sad, so why mourn over the death of the rich and powerful. However, Adam Yauch’s death felt supremely different to me.
I’ve considered the Beastie Boys to be my favorite band since probably 1994, when Ill Communication was put into my hand for the first time. And since then, their music has soundtracked my life and been paramount in so many of my most treasured moments. For instance, while driving to the church on the day of my wedding, it was the Beastie Boys on the stereo amongst my groomsmen in the car. I remember that. For whatever reason, that’s a specific memory that stands out on what is easily one of the best days of my life. And this is just one example. There are so many happy days shared with those three white rappers from Brooklyn.
Someone on Twitter wrote yesterday, that the loss of MCA, and thus the Beastie Boys by proxy, has caused her to miss “everyone” in her life.
It’s a just summary. All day yesterday I realized that a part of my sadness wasn’t the passing of a man I’ve never met, but the reality of death and loss, tied closely to everyone I’ve ever cared about.
It’s also a reminder that the happy moments of youth–driving carefree with the windows down, music playing too loudly on the stereo, close friends in the seats next to you–are also gone. And that even our heroes can fall. I think that’s part of the reason of my sadness.
Some people say that the sense of smell is most closely tied to memory. I happen to have a terrible sense of smell, and sound has always been the deep trigger into my memories. And as I listen to the Beastie Boys in memory of MCA, I’m also reunited with my closest friends, and my fondest moments in life. While I know the carefree days of my youth are gone, I’m able to be thankful that those times will always be preserved in this music.
You’ve been a gift to me, Adam Yauch. Thank you.