Tuesday Tune Two-Fer: It Was a Very Good Year

Two tangentially-related tunes that came out when I was 21

One of the only things that Bluesky has over Mastodon is that it’s a better home for hashtag games and “what’s your favorite?” style threads. A recent one asked everybody to name a perfect album from when they were 21, presumably for identity theft purposes, but also for fun.

It turns out that a surprising number of pretty great albums came out when I was 21 years old. One of them was Check Your Head by the Beastie Boys. I always think of that one as being one long uninterrupted song, plus “So Whatcha Want,” so it’s kind of hard to pick a stand-out. All of the tracks blend with the interstitials and samples, and I never remember individual titles.

Hard to pick a stand-out, but not impossible: “Stand Together” picks up from Peter Sichel’s comfortable study (“Mmm, it does go well with the fish.” “Delicious again, Peter.”) and builds up energy to carry through the final third of the album. I vividly remember driving through Marin County with this playing as loud as my car’s cheap stereo could handle.

That wasn’t when I was 21, though. I wasn’t cool enough to appreciate the Beastie Boys until Hello Nasty came out. In 1992, I was still heavily invested in my favorite bands from college, including the Indigo Girls. That was the year Rites of Passage came out, and the big hit from that one was “Galileo.”

I always thought they were a little underrated, even though the truth was probably more that they’ve always been exactly as successful as they wanted to be, making folk-pop songs about reincarnation. In any case, it was nice to see them have another song get as much attention as “Closer to Fine” did.