Ill Communication

I was not aware that Beastie Boy Adam Yauch had been sick with cancer since 2009, so it was a shock last week to read a headline that had the words Beastie Boy and dead in it.

It’s only a few posts ago that I wrote how listening to the Beastie Boys was an antidote to feeling sad about the death of my brother late last year.

It had seemed to me that the Beastie Boys’ music was anti-emotion, if that is a word. It elicited a response that drew the listener (ie, me) away from all the emotions that grieving brings, and that was a useful and positive thing. Their music felt like  a metaphorical (and friendly) slap in the face that caused me to stop dwelling on how sad I was feeling.

That’s  because their music is the opposite of sentimental. It’s energetic, punchy, witty, and cheeky. A Beastie Boys song is like a collage of sounds, rhythms, beats, words and phrases,  coming at you, at a fast pace, from every direction. It doesn’t contain any space to wallow in self-pity, or grief.

If I was to put a scientific slant on it, (although I have no scientific data to back me up), I’d propose that it activates parts of your brain that engage in a concrete way with the sounds, textures, and rhythms. Or perhaps it shuts off part of the brain that insists on relating everything to your own life experience. Perhaps I should go and get a degree in Psychology and then get back to you about how and why it has this anti-sentimental effect. The fact remains, that it works for me.

There are times when you want to wallow in some self-pity, or allow yourself to experience and express your grief – and then there are times when it’s good to put on the Beastie Boys.

So that’s why it was a shock to discover that apparently death, and all the sadness that it brings, had made its mark on the Beastie Boys.

I hope that their music might eventually have the same, gentle, slap-in-the-fact effect for his wife and daughter, and his long-time collaborators and friends, Mikey D and Ad-Rock. But I dare say that if it eventually does, it won’t be for a long time.


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  1. jj moon

     /  May 25, 2012

    Hi Maria,
    I liked your blog so much on your brother that I wanted to use it as an analysis piece for my university degree in English language and literature as a great piece of everyday writing. Could you please email me at to let me know if you are ok with me using your piece. If you are ok with it, there is only one small problem, you have changed the wording of it. As I am limited to a word count I can only choose part of the extract and the part I had chosen is the part you have altered recently. I was wondering whether you could possibly upload the original briefly so I could at least take a screenshot, otherwise I am in trouble with my course. I have the original wording if you don’t have it.
    Thank you, Joe.


  2. Hi Joe,
    Thanks for asking, I’d be happy for you to use that particular piece in your essay, and appreciate you asking. I’ve sent you an email. Maria



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