May 7, 2012 at 1:19 PM
"It was probably the first time in my young life that something musical, something creative, something at all, compelled me to think and desire beyond the borders of my childhood"
By José Smith
The Beans & Chile
José Smith is a writer, stay-at-home dad and fiend of excellent essays.
When I was in the fifth grade, I stole a cassette of the Beastie Boys’ "License to Ill." I had spent the night at a friend’s house and, after a ruckus night of 11-year-old shenanigans, which included listening to the "License to Ill" repeatedly, I took the cassette without asking when it was time to leave the next day. It wasn’t like I was a thief, I just didn’t think that borrowing it was an option. There was something about "License to Ill" that I had to have though, that I couldn’t leave without. It was probably the first time in my young life that something musical, something creative, something at all, compelled me to think and desire beyond the borders of my childhood.
Other albums would come along and influence me. David Lee Roth had me climbing trees in my neighborhood after a brief obsession with his 1988 album "Skyscraper." GNR’s "Appetite for Destruction" sparked my desire for long hair and for a time, I wore Guns N’ Roses patches on the back of a jean jacket. Slayer caused major friction between my mother and I when she threw away their album "Seasons in the Abyss" in fear that I was dabbling in satanic worship. And Metallica’s "Master of Puppets" still resonates as the soundtrack to my BMX riding days, when I sported a fanny pack, a Walkman and a supply of extra batteries.
Most of that music I listened to in my youth is nothing but good memories now. The cassettes are all gone. The fanny pack went out of style. I can’t even recall the last time I rode my BMX. And while albums like "Master of Puppets" are still part of my music library, they rarely get any play time in my house of two toddlers and a wife who was raised on the oldies and R&B.
We have these little dance parties at my house though, kids flailing their small bodies to and fro, my wife and I rocking dance moves from what seems like another era. And while no one is into my head-banging music, it was easy for me to add a few "License to Ill" songs. One of my old favorites, Paul Revere, seems to especially resonate with my son. Every time it comes on, he always asks, “Who sings this Daddy?” “The Beastie Boys,” I say proudly, before busting into some of my best Beastie Boy karaoke:
Now Here's A Little Story I've Got To Tell
About Three Bad Brothers You Know So Well
It Started Way Back In History
With Adrock, M.C.A., And Me - Mike D.
Been Had A Little Horsy Named Paul Revere
Just Me And My Horsy And A Quart Of Beer
Riding Across The Land Kicking Up Sand
Sheriff's Posse On My Tail Cause I'm In Demand
One Lonely Beastie I Be
All By Myself Without Nobody
The Sun Is Beating Down On My Baseball Hat
The Air Is Gettin' Hot The Beer Is Getting Flat
Lookin' For A Girl - I Ran Into A Guy
His Name Is M.C.A., I Said, 'Howdy' - He Said, 'Hi'