In Remembrance of the Buddhist Beastie Boy

Like many people across the country and around the world, I’m mourning the untimely loss of Beastie Boy Adam Yauch (aka MCA).

While Yauch may have attained popularity as one third of a group of New York Jewish rappers who got their start helping at least one generation of suburban white boys “fight for their right to party,” his personal spiritual evolution into Tibetan Buddhism was one major reason the Beasties’ music ended up going in such amazing and ever-surprising directions for over a decade.

RIP MCA. In remembrance, here’s an excerpt from MCA’s 1994 interview with the Buddhist Journal, Tricycle:

Yauch: The bottom line of all the problems on this planet and that all human beings are working on is this basic misconception of not-enoughness, feeling like we’re not enough. This is some strain of that, of feeling that if the dharma is presented in this way, or if these other people become interested in this or get excited about it, it’s going to take something away from me. It’s this basic misconception, this feeling of not-enoughness.

Tricycle: Do you see any difference for your own generation?

Yauch: One of the monks said something that’s relevant here. He noticed this huge separation in America between the kids and the adults that doesn’t exist where he comes from, and that there’s a real polarization between adults and youth. Where they come from, when there’s a celebration—or a dance, or a party, or music—the little kids and the grandpas are all dancing and singing together. That’s something this country could definitely grasp hold of. Our polarization of that is more extreme than it needs to be.

Tricycle: Are you hopeful about your generation?

Yauch: I’m pretty hopeful about the evolution of humanity in general. I think that all of us here on the planet at this point have come into these lifetimes and into these bodies because it’s a crucial time in the evolution of the planet and humanity. It’s a transitional phase, and I think that everyone has come in at this time to be a part of that, to be part of the Big Show.

PS: To the uninitiated: Adam is the one with the backwards cap…

3 thoughts on “In Remembrance of the Buddhist Beastie Boy

  1. Thanks for spreading the word about a young man whose wisdom only just began to touch the world. A remarkable individual in every way. Check out the eulogy offered by Leon Botstein, president of Bard College which Adam attended and graduated from.

  2. The Beastie Boys were inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of fame.  The Beastie Boys were all Jewish.  Adam Youch z”l converted to Buddism.  I am going to link all of 2012 inductees to something Jewish.

    One ofThe Red Hot Chili Peppers founders was guitarist Hillel Slovak z”l who was born in Israel to survivors of the Shoah.  He passed in 1988.

    Guns N Roses has or had 3 Jewish members bassist Ron Thal, guitarist Richard Fortus and drummer Steve Adler.

    Blues man Freddie King (passed away in 1976) was inducted by ZZ Top.   “Going Down” was a Freddie King hit.  “Going Down” was played at the induction.  The guitarists were Billy Gibbons, Joe Bonamassa & Derek Trucks.  Trucks and his wife Susan Tadeschi will be at Ravinia this summer!  The keyboardist was Paul Shaffer who is Jewish.  “Going Down” was also a hit for the Jeff Beck Group in 1972.  I saw Jeff Beck perform “Going Down” in Caesarea, Israel in October of 2010 with Tal Wilkenfeld on bass.
    Tal Wilkenfeld is Jewish.  She is from Australia.  She was in her early twenties at the time.

    Small Faces/Faces were inducted.  Ron Wood and Rod Stewart from the Jeff Beck Group joined faces which brings up seeing Jeff Beck in Israel once more.

    Laura Nyro z”l was inducted and was Jewish.  She had such a beautiful and soulful voice.  She was one of the greatest composers.  She wrote “And When I Die” when she was 17.  Peter Paul and Mary recorded it in 1965 and Blood Sweat & Tears in ’68.  She wrote Wedding Bell Blues, Stone Soul Picnic, Eli’s Coming and New York Tendaberry and many more.  It is worth searching her on YouTube if you are not familiar with her.

    Finally Donovan quite rightly.  He recorded the beautiful Yiddish song Dona Dona in ’65 in English just like Joan Baez did in’63.  My favorite version is by Chava Alberstein sung in Yiddish.  She also sings the greatest version of Chad Gadya.  All of these versions can be found on YouTube.

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