I love it for its anachronistic absurdity, its compact narrative, and its blending of Christmas’ crass commercialism and spiritual core. These elements are all present in the music of Beastie Boys, and I can’t think of a better way to ring in the holidays than digging into Beastie Boys Book. This is an oral history of the band beginning with their youth in pre-punk New York, through their hardcore days, and into their rise in hip hop and beyond. In addition to the band’s own material, the book is crammed with photos, essays by the likes of Luc Sante and Jonathan Lethem, a comic book, and even a cookbook. It wouldn’t be the Beasties if it wasn’t stuffed to the gills with goodness.
Missing, of course, is Adam Yauch, aka MCA, who passed away in 2012. His presence is felt throughout, however, in the stories told by his friends and bandmates, as well as the impact he continues to have on their lives. Yauch’s spiritual transition from beer guzzling bad guy to practicing Buddhist is through line that gives the book a painful poignancy to anyone who’s ever loved this band.
Because it’s the Beastie Boys you shouldn’t just read this book. Check out the audio version, which is read by the surviving members of the band as well as a RIDICULOUS array of guests like Kim Gordon, Elvis Costello, John C. Reilly, Snoop Dogg, Ben Stiller, and Bette Midler. No, that is not a typo: Bette Midler.
Jeremy Estes has worked for Nashville Public Library since 2008. He loves comic books and dislikes the term “graphic novels”. He hosts Panel Discussion, a comics book club for adults, on the first Wednesday of the month at 12pm at the Main Library.