I’ve written about the Beastie Boys several times, including here and here. The death of Adam Yauch last spring (a/k/a MCA) came as a shock, since he was just a couple of years older than I am now. In fact, I’m about the same age as he was when the cancer that did him in was diagnosed. And if that doesn’t grab my attention, not much will.
When the Beastie Boys released Licensed to Ill back in 1986, it offered lots of silly, goofy rhymes. No subject was too off-kilter, so long as it made for a rhyme with another, equally off-kilter topic. The very first song on the record had a rhyme that went “If I played guitar I’d be Jimmy Page/ The girlies I like are underage.” Having read Hammer of the Gods not too long before that, and knowing that Page had in fact engaged in such behavior, their words seemed brilliant and provocative at the same time. And there were many more where that came from.
The death of Phyllis Diller today, at the age of 95, can linked to the Beastie Boys, if only in the most crazy, backhanded way. She was nearly 70 years old, and past the age that someone my age would have known much about her career, when MCA, at the age of 22, rapped ” I got rhymes galime, I got rhymes galilla/ I got more rhymes than Phyllis Diller.” I suppose admitting that Phyllis Diller had more rhymes than you do wouldn’t help your rap career very much, would it? And what are “rhymes galilla”? Your guess is as good as mine.
So who would you expect to live longer back in 1986, the almost 70 year-old Phyllis Diller, or the still-in-his-early 20s Adam Yauch/MCA? You wouldn’t pick Ms. Diller, would you? And yet that’s what happened. She outlived him by a few months, and then they both died in the same year. Crazy, isn’t it?
Llife can be painfully short, or surprisingly long. There’s no way of knowing just how much of a shelf life any of us will have. But if life is being enjoyed, that’s what matters the most. Everything else works itself out, eventually.