Picture this: 15ish years old, walking home from school with your older sister. Assume we were fighting over something inane and pointless (and it likely involved hair-pulling of some variety). A large car sits curbside. Obviously such a girl thing, but the kind of car it was is not part of this memory. It was a big, old car. Like an old hand-me-down Cutlass (think mid-80s Cutlass-style). Sporting fabric that was so well-worn that it seemed plush and comfy. Now, that? Was a great backseat. Inside, two brothers that both sisters are pals with. They live in the area, offer a ride home.
What becomes a casual – and friendly; let’s not read too much into the backseat – pick up becomes a daily tradition of rides home. What makes this memory is the music. Daily doses of classic Beastie Boys. An introduction to music outside a pop-bubblegum world where we relied on Tarzan Dan to tell us what to listen to.
Brass Monkey, Slow & Low, the undeniable Fight for your Right… Licensed to Ill was my first sampling of Beastie Boys in the backseat on youthful and sunny afternoons. And these three guys became “backdrop” music. This isn’t flash-in-the-pan music – a temporary obsession that burns out once you get over your initial interest. It’s influence that lasts for decades. A sound you can always recognize. Albums that each hold a different meaning. My Hello Nasty CD was often filched from my younger brother, much like his coveted green Doc Marten’s. And when I finally broke down and grudgingly handed back the purloined copy and bought one for myself, it became theme music for my first year of college and Intergalactic (despite it currently being my least favourite Beastie Boy cut) was what I spent many an evening dancing on speaker tops to.
I could liken it to a comfortable pair of jeans, but that seems too clichéd. Suffice it to say, I may go months without hearing a Beastie Boys song, but when I hear those first few moments of any Beastie song, it inevitably evokes a reaction or memory. Which is why they are classic. They broke ground, but didn’t need to keep breaking it. It’s just good music. In the purest way music can be great.
So, why the nostalgia? Hot Sauce Committee Part Two. Despite my claim that Beastie Boys are often taken for granted that they will always be part of my inner soundtrack, I’ll cop to obsessing over this album. Not much has been playing over the last couple of weeks. Except maybe the very fantabulous Z-Trip remix that was released as a free download (with permission, which makes it even better, in my opinion). The album is a testament to why I sat up and listened in the backseat of that car instead of focusing my feminine wiles on choosing one of those cute brothers (only later would I learn that no matter the cuteness of the boy, a boy who listens to shit music seems a little less adorable). It’s more “classic” Beastie Boys. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the instrumental-only The Mix-Up and the more electronic flavour of “Intergalactic” – but both those sounds seem to live only in nostalgic music listening instead of songs that maintain relevancy over decades. Admission: Intergalactic was on such heavy rotation, it is now a song I avoid. Whereas Sabotage, which got equal CD-playing time, I rarely tire of.
Instead of sampling a new song from Hot Sauce, I’m playing a classic today. No Sleep Til Brooklyn. On my Top 5 Beastie Boys songs list, moving up after a memorable 48-hour stint in NYC where sleep eluded and adventuring was paramount.
Interesting segue: Adam Horowitz (Adrock) collaborated on Northern State’s Can I Keep This Pen? (of which, Suckamothafucka is still on heavy life-soundtrack rotation). Hesta Prynn (Julie Potash) was in Northern State. Hesta Prynn played a role in the Webster Hall 48-hour-NYC-Adventure. It’s like playing a musical version of Six Degrees of Separation. I wonder if I can find a way to tie Kevin Bacon into that…
No Sleep Til Brooklyn:
Z-Trip’s All Access Beastie Boys Mega Mix can be found here (free download alert!):
Take a Listen – Hot Sauce Committee Part 2: