I listened to a lot of music when I had cancer. I had some free time and was on a lot of pain killers. It was a good use of my time. I listened to a lot of sad music, but when I was tired of being sad, I was angry and needed something to meet that need. I would get on Beastie Boys kicks. Many tracks were loud, and driving but full of positivity. Sometimes too, the lyrics felt oddly appropriate to my situation. I sang along with “Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun” because that’s what it felt like I was doing. “Time to Get Ill” put a wry smile on my face. “You gotta fight…” held extra emphasis, I wanted more time to party and do plenty of other things in the meantime. “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” passed the time when I couldn’t sleep all night in post-op recovery.
The Beastie Boys aren’t only good for cancer listening, however. I memorized every second of Paul’s Boutique during one of my first jobs out of college. I was working through a temp agency, doing data entry for medical billing company. The supervisor was a nice guy. He knew exactly how much the job sucked. He set me up with a laptop in an empty office with a window. I had a never ending supply of hand filled out medical forms. He told me I could work overtime. I was flat broke, so I did. I went into the office everyday early, went out for lunch to get away from the computer screen, and worked late every night. I had Paul’s Boutique on repeat in my portable CD player. For three months.
Training for my first marathon also required some music. If I was feeling sluggish, I’d turn it to “Sabatoge” and sprint in spite of myself. Hot summer runs through the city were fueled by “Roots Down.” When the day came, I found myself at the startline in Pittsburgh, where I learned to love, really love music in dirty boxy clubs. It was already drizzling and humid even at 8am on a May morning. I prepared for soggy shoes and got ready to go. It was pretty miserable in sections but I was fueled by the amazement that I could push my body like this, even after cancer for 26 miles. I was rough around mile 23 and just in time, on my ipod came “Fight for Your Right.” This slow plodder broke into sprint and played air drums and I pumped my fist in the air. People stared. It was awesome. I rode this high all the way in to the finish.
What’s my point? I don’t know. I’m sad. The Beastie Boys are like soul food for your ears. I’m just bloody sad that there won’t be more. Sad that I won’t be able to listen to them without knowing one of them is missing. Sad that I was diagnosed before Adam Yauch and now he’s no longer with us. Fuck cancer. Fuck every time someone has to say the words, “very treatable” the way Adam did in 2009. Sad that there won’t be more smart lyrics, more heavy beats, more… goodness. Sad that the world is a little less bright.