The day before I left for Nashville, I made sure to chat with my musical sherpa Clay about which tunes-related locales I should seek out while I was in Music City. In addition to Hatch Show Print, the legendary letterpress print shop, and Ernest Tubb’s record store just across Broadway, Clay suggested I check out Grimey’s New & Preloved Music. So on Friday afternoon, while I was still in a daze from seeing Jack White in the Third Man Records parking lot, I made the short drive up 8th Avenue South to Grimey’s, where the mood was quite different from the Blunderbuss-imbued one I’d found at the Third Man store.
That Friday was the day Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys lost his three-year battle with cancer, and the employees of Grimey’s were paying tribute by spinning the late rapper’s work and talking with one another about their experiences with his albums. Throughout the time I was there, browsing the store’s remarkable troves of new vinyl and fun Record Store Day leftovers, the tone of the store’s conversation was reverent, mirroring the solemn comments that were flooding my Twitter and Tumblr feeds. But as the Grimey’s staff continued with their communal eulogy, I could also hear notes of genuine awe in their voices, especially when they spoke about how widely the Beastie Boys influenced American popular culture over the past few decades. Though I’m quite familiar with their music, and I remember the noteworthy impact that the music videos for songs like “Sabotage” and “Intergalactic” had, I was too young to appreciate the first few Beastie Boys albums, and am only now coming to terms with how remarkable it is that three white dudes from New York carved out such a respected place in the world of hip hop. Because of my age, I look to record store conversations like these, as well as their interweb-based counterparts, to help me form a more complete understanding of MCA’s legacy.
Yesterday, I wrote about the pros and cons of learning about a band after everyone else, and this is certainly a case where being late to the party is bittersweet. Knowing that there’s a mountain of top-notch hip hop for me to revisit attentively and enjoy more deeply is a pleasant thought, but I’ll be doing so with the knowledge that it’s impossible for me to really feel the trailblazing aspect of their early records. One of the most amazing things music can do is make you feel like your world is getting bigger; when a person or group of people with a good idea and a chest full of determination push outward on the envelope that the musical universe had previously fit snugly inside, we all benefit. This pioneering spirit is one reason music is infinitely fascinating to me, and it’s why music will continue to evolve as long as there are ears and brains capable of working together to decode the vibration of air molecules. It’s just too bad it took Yauch dying for me to start appreciating this quality in the Beastie Boys.
A vastly expanded respect for musicians who make our world bigger through creativity isn’t the only thing I carried with me when I left Grimey’s. In the material acquisitions department, I had Justin Townes Earle’s Record Store Day single (finally), a copy of Bobby Bare Jr’s A Storm, A Tree, My Mother’s Head and a locally made chocolate bar for the Mrs. The one thing I wish I would have gotten to commemorate my trip to Grimey’s and kick off my journey back through the Beastie Boys catalog is a vinyl copy of the group’s most recent LP, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two. That’s right, I’m workin’ backwards, folks. Check out a few of my favorite tracks from the album below, buy it on iTunes here and who knows, there may be a Beastie Boys post or two to look forward to in the future.