From The Guardian:
For one it was hearing a favourite song live for the first time after 30 years, for another it was a moment of liberating communal sweariness, for someone else it was making a friend happy with an autograph – these are the musical moments that stuck in the minds of our writers this year.
Shake Your Rump for the opposite of death
A certain ritual unfolds when a musician dies. You tweet an RIP, maybe add a link to a suitable song, feel sad for a day and move on. But when Adam “MCA” Yauch of the Beastie Boys was struck down by cancer in May, he was on my mind for weeks and it took me a while to work out why. I’d never met him and hadn’t even been a big Beastie Boys fan since Ill Communication in 1994.
It was partly the manner of his passing. Musicians tend to die from youthful misadventure or in old age. To die from cancer at 47 (he was survived by both his parents) is rare enough to feel shocking. But it was also the nature of his band: a trio of middle-aged men who never lost touch with what bonded them in adolescence. A band is a fragile coalition, subject to enormous strain and to sustain the same lineup for over three decades is no small achievement.
It’s not as if Yauch stood still, of course. Formerly the band’s biggest party animal in the inflatable-penis era, he was the first to disown their youthful misogyny as he embraced Buddhism and political activism in the early 90s. Some found his U-turn hypocritical but, he countered in the sleeve notes to the band’s The Sounds of Science anthology: “In this fucked up world all you can hope for is change, and I’d rather be a hypocrite to you than a zombie forever.”
But on stage and in the studio, he held onto the absurdity and fearlessness of youth. He valued his bandmates so highly that he would pursue ideas they considered throwaway jokes, like the Sabotage video’s parody of a 70s cop show. A broken-hearted Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz told Rolling Stone: “In a group of friends, you all come up with stupid shit to do. But you never do it. With Yauch, it got done. He had that extra drive to see things through.” He was also, by all accounts, a mensch. The music industry affords its stars ample opportunity to be selfish, ungracious and careless with those around them, but I’ve never read a bad word about Yauch.
His life in music is hardly the stuff of a juicy three-act biopic but it represents a kind of ideal. He formed a band to have fun with his friends and he maintained that spirit until the end, which isn’t easy. Normally when a musician dies you reach for a song with a poignant, valedictory air but the Beastie Boys don’t have any like that, so I went back to the likes of Shake Your Rump and Sabotage instead, and revelled in the sheer pleasure they radiated. I heard humour, adventure, camaraderie and joy. I heard the opposite of death. Dorian Lynskey
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