There is no better way to remember the wise and rebellious spirit of Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch than to sit down and listen to “Fight for Your Right.” The song is a popular and playful youth anthem, but it is also one of few songs that captures youth angst, potential, and stereotypes so well:
“You wake up late for school, man, you don’t wanna go!
You ask your mom “please?” but she still says “NO!”
You miss two classes and no homework,
but your teacher preaches class like you’re some kind of jerk!
You gotta fight, for your right,
Yauch was a crusader for youth and freedom. His activism through Tibetan Freedom Concerts, support of presidential campaigns – and most special to us – his work with Rock the Vote, not only made him an informed artist, but also an ally to the young and underrepresented. The Beastie Boys most recently accompanied Rock the Vote during the “Get Out and Vote ’08” tour, but the band always remained a great supporter of the Rock the Vote cause. In 1998, they received RTV’s Patrick Lippert award for inspiring youth and advocating for significant social change. From a 2008 statement, Yauch’s team emphasized: “This election is too important, too much is at stake to stay at home. We hope that you can come out, have a nice night, dance, sing, get your freak on, and then wake up the next morning and get everyone that you possibly can to get out and vote.” Leave it to the Beastie Boys to include “get your freak on” while espousing the values of democracy.
Take Yauch’s soulful wisdom and words with you. As we mourn his recent death, it can be therapeutic to look deeper into the words of the ones we lose. So celebrate Yauch and engage in the “fight to right” for whatever matters to you.
Yauch’s recent death from cancer is not just a moment to remember an artist who changed the world. It is a reminder to be unapologetic for doing what you want and standing up for yourself. It’s a reminder to be active. It’s a reminder to have your say. And it’s a reminder to take responsibility and stand up when it’s right. We’ll miss you, Adam. Thank you for your spirit.