Five Perspectives on “Fight For Your Right”

The Beastie Boys’ “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (to Party!)” isn’t just the rare song with two parentheses in the title, or the MTV debut of Tabitha Soren. Even after a three-decade Beastie career, it remains the cornerstone of their work. So five perspectives on a #7 single:

1. Public Enemy, “Party for Your Right to Fight”–a brilliant inversion, turning “Party” into a noun, specifically, the Black Panther Party.

2. Coldplay’s live cover: a mournful joke (on both the Beasties and Coldplay), but genuinely moving.

3. Fight for Your Right (Revisited): a half-hour fantasia (directed by Yauch), released last year to promote Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, starring Seth Rogen, Elijah Wood, and Danny McBride as the Beasties circa 1986, and John C. Reilly, Will Ferrell, and Danny McBride as the Beasties of the future. Spoiler alert: They have a dance-off.

4. Baseball infographic artist Craig Robinson did a wonderful chart breaking down the vocals in the song.

5. Adam Yauch, in the liner notes to the 1999 compilation The Sounds of Science, remembers the track as “a joke that went too far.” The end of his thoughtful essay on the song as the harbinger of the early wave of Beastie fame:

But it was too late to turn in any other direction; we were caught up in the frenzy. The shows were sold out. It seemed like there was nothing to do but keep coming out on stage every night drinking beer and playing the role. The strangest part about it was that after a short time I think we actually became just what it was that we’d set out to make fun of. By drinking so much beer and acting like sexist macho jerks we actually became just that.

So I guess that the story could have a couple of possible morals. One might be, “Be careful of what you make fun of or you might become it.” But the other one, the one that I like is, “All of the sexist macho jerks in the world are just pretending cause they’re caught in a rut, and maybe, at some point in the future, when the planets line up in a certain way, they’ll all just snap out of it.”

posted 9 May 2012 in Links, Tasty Bits and tagged , , . 2 comments

2 Comments on Five Perspectives on “Fight For Your Right”

  1. Tom Nawrocki Says:

    It’s a great song, but it’s no “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine (Part 1).”

  2. Matt Morgan Says:

    Thanks, Gavin. Love the quote at the end. Of course, the extension is that it’s not just the sexist macho jerks who have something to snap out of that they’re pretending to be!

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