As I sat in the audience at the Rock Hall induction ceremony last month and listened to Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz give their acceptance speech, reading a letter from the absent Adam Yauch, I had a feeling things weren't looking good for the missing Beastie Boy. It made his words, read by his band mates, all the more touching.
There's plenty of the over 50 crowd who think of the Beastie Boys as some sort of novelty act. That's understandable, given that their cartoonish debut and monster hit "(You Gotta)Fight For Your Right (To Party)" was insanely over the top. But these three boys from Brooklyn had much more to say as they matured. And while Yauch and the others rallied around serious causes they still kept that irreverence and buffoonery intact. Truly an achievement in itself.
I was talking with a friend last night about Yauch's passing and how it's had quite an impact on generation-x. Many have said his death has touched them like no other had before, not even Kurt Cobain.
That's because Cobain's death was self-inflicted. There's others who've passed due to drug use and the like, but Yauch died of something beyond his control. And that has brought a real sense of mortality to the generation right behind me.
Reading message boards filled with memories and personal takes on what Yauch meant to these fans is very interesting and insightful. As much as I was a fan of The Beastie Boys, having seen them warm up for Madonna on the Like a Virgin Tour at the same venue in which they were inducted, they weren't a touchstone for me. Not in the way they were and still are for so many.
As a late period baby boomer I say to these gen-xer's, welcome to the club. You see now that our time is short here on earth. Make the most of it and cherish every day.