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Sound Stage

May 7, 2012
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MCA was one of the good guys

This isn’t right. In a business populated by people you’d rather not know, the Beastie Boys’ MCA was one of the good guys.

He’s not supposed to be dead, if only because he didn’t do any of the things that typically make rock stars die. If rock stars are going to die early on us, they’re supposed to do so at the point of a needle, or the mouth of a bottle, or at the very least a ham sandwich in their hotel room. They’re not supposed to go like humans. Adam “MCA” Yauch was different. He wasn’t a raging alcoholic like Amy Winehouse. He didn’t have debilitating issues with powder (Whitney) or pills (The King). He wasn’t simply too weird to live (MJ). In his end, Yauch was brought down by his own body, betrayed by a few Benedict Arnold cells.

And that’s terrifying.

Cancer is an asshole, my friends. Just about all of us have lost someone to the damn, blighted disease, and if we haven’t then we know someone who’s fought with it and mercifully lived to tell the tale. Many — if not all — of us turn to music to help ease the pain of difficult or painful times. But now we’ve lost someone who helped many of us through our own tough nights of crying fits, prayers and dark thoughts.

And who’s supposed to help us through that?

Fittingly, many of us will turn to the man himself. Part of the legacy of being a musician, is getting just enough insubstantial immortality to cushion the blow of your own demise. Dead musicians are almost always the trumpet for their own tribute. So just like the dirty hippies sitting in a park overlooking Lake Washington and singing “All Apologies” or the rednecks at Graceland standing in front of a misspelled gravestone reciting “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You,” people all over the globe are now finding some measure of comfort in “Fight For Your Right,” “B-Boy Bouillabaisse,” “Sabotage” and even the absurdity of “Brass Monkey.”

“I burn the competition like a flame thrower/My rhymes they age like wine as I get older,” The Beastie Boys had the good sense to do two things: make really good music, and never take themselves too seriously. Yauch was a driving force behind much of the group’s political conscience, and his rhymes did indeed mature and grow in complexity as the man himself aged. But always there was that whimsy. MCA, Mike D and Ad-Rock were continually winking at us, and that was part of the fun.

MCA is gone, but that fun lingers in the air, like the smell of alcohol after a party. Queue up “Paul’s Boutique,” “To the Five Boroughs,” “Ill Communication” or the groundbreaking, paradigm-shifting “License to Ill,” and there it is, warm and inviting and vibrant as always.

This isn’t right. But life rarely is, and at the end of the day, you’ve got to just step in there and make your mark while you can. Because there’s always something out there, waiting to take you away before it’s really fair. Few people knew that like MCA.

So long, Lone Plains Drifter. CV

 
 


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