Brooklyn Sleeps Tonight: The Beastie Songs That Shaped a Life

In a overtly geeky way, this isn’t the post that everyone, including myself wants, but it’s the post that everyone needs. Music has always been a healing substance, similar to Tylenol or more actually Vicodin. Today, with the death of Adam Yauch, AKA MCA, it’s more than appropriate to share the songs that that remind you of an individual you never met, and regret not doing so. In that way, life is all about regrets; regrets that need reminding and need to be lived with.

Who’s first exposure to the Beastie Boys wasn’t “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Pary)?” Honest to God, I still have the original 45 of this track from the 80’s and what guy didn’t dream of pulling some chick onto a couch from behind, and macking on her? This song and video may be the 80’s most iconic piece of nostalgia that didn’t suck ass, but more importantly it showed the Boy’s versatility with instrumentation and displayed their fun nature with lyrics.

Next of course “Brass Monkey” was a play on words, but a fun song to get fucked up to as well. While not just mindless, “Monkey” is the prefect example of how well these Boys could flow, and may be that unlikely tribute to an alcoholic drink that you never knew existed. Their seamless change-up on vocals and fast delivery make for the most amazing two minute plus song ever.

“No Sleep Till Brooklyn” may be my favorite Beastie Boys track; it’s take on 80’s hair metal was witty, fun, and pretty brilliant when you get right down to it. When MCA rapped, “I do what I do best because I’m illing and able” you fucking believed it. Most may think it’s a rip on the genre, but really it’s taking it to areas that weren’t possible at the time. Fuck, it’s because of this music that you have bands like Linkin Park, P.O.D., and many other Rap/Rock rip offs. Pay tribute mother fuckers.

A discussion of Beastie greatness isn’t complete without talking about “Paul Revere.” The song’s instrumentation is overly basic, but the purpose for that is to serve the narrative. The story told is pretty fucking crazy and reminds a lot of the film Repo Man. This track stands on it’s own, no word further need imply it’s greatness.

“Sabotage” is one of those fun tracks you remember as a kid, so much that it inspires people to imitate. A few years ago, students at the high school I attended took the concept for this music video and made a Pizza Hut commercial out of it that was a couple of minutes long. It was utterly brilliant, and it’s the fun nature of the song that’s really inspirational. The driving guitar riff is catchy as hell and Mike D’s vocals booming over the whole song are amazing.

Let’s be truthful for a moment, the only good thing about that 98′ Godzilla flick was this song. It had been four years since Ill Communication, and fans were yearning. The wait was worth it, and despite “Intergalactic” being their most mainstream song to date, it was still fun, and hell the chorus was a fucking robotic voice distortion of the word intergalactic, what’s not to love about that.

After that, I lost that connection with the group, and it was a long time between albums from there. If there is one track I have to save for last, it may be the most unlikely, but it’s laughs at times like this that are worth it. Recorded live with Biz Markie, the band released a version of “Bennie and the Jets” that feature the most drunkish, karaoke driven lyrics you’ve ever heard. The track was great enough to make it onto the bands 1999 anthology The Sound of Silence. Enjoy the brilliance and R.I.P. MCA, you will be missed, and thank you for taking part in shaping this life.

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