Podcast Episode 8: Don’t Fear Le Reaper

Are you afraid of death? My old friend Doug Marshall asked that question of me recently, so we saved the discussion for the podcast. Doug’s PhD thesis addressed this very topic, trying to understand how we find meaning in life and death through the tradition of the New Orleans jazz funeral.

This may be a heavy topic, but true to form, we definitely got plenty of jokes in there. This topic fascinates me in general, so I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed the conversation.

Click here if you prefer to listen on iTunes.

00:00 Intro
– Meet Doug, a church camp friend of mine from TWENTY YEARS ago. Gross.
– Doug gives a little background on the topic and his personal experience with it.

04:36 Pod Pourri
– Learn why Doug selected this topic for his dissertation (SPOILER: it’s the music).
– What exactly is a jazz funeral?
– Doug mentions a New Orleans jazz album by Hugh Laurie (yes, THAT Hugh Laurie), which you can find on Spotify.
– I share some responses I got from Facebook friends when I posed the question, “Do you fear death?” Some of them surprised me…
– Doug and I get into some “would you rather” hypotheticals about dying and SHIT. GETS. REAL.

49:38 If I Were You
– Doug tells you where to go if you visit New Orleans!
– He then explains how even YOU can confront your fear of death for only $19.99 if you act now!
– I stump him with the “what song(s) would be played at your jazz funeral” question, but he has PLENTY of answers for what to play at mine…

53:48 Outro
– Doug can be found on Twitter and Instagram under the handle @DJMuddy.
– Post-podcast, he shared some of his favorite New Orleans brass music with me. You should check it out on Spotify:
Magnificent Sevenths – Authentic New Orleans Jazz Funeral
Rebirth Brass Band 

Thanks for tackling this taboo subject with us, everyone! I hope we entertained/offended you all equally.

13 thoughts on “Podcast Episode 8: Don’t Fear Le Reaper

  1. because I, like you, are no longer a religious person *subjectforfuturepodcast*, i would like to say i don’t fear death. that would not be true. i absolutely fear death. more than that, i fear dying young. don’t know why; it doesn’t really run in our family. i just feel like i have so much to accomplish, and something terrible will happen that offs me before i get to do any of it.

    i know exactly what song i want played at my funeral: “You May Know Him” by Catpower. it’s kind of abstract, but it resonates with me for some reason.


    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M51hef5BYkM&w=560&h=315%5D

    (ignore the “sea of love” bits; this is from a weird live version)

    • Yeah, I mean, my brain knows I shouldn’t be afraid — but again, it’s the unknown. I’m afraid because even though logically I can’t believe there is such a thing as hell, the whole point is I DON’T KNOW.

      • Yeah, but you DO know because you’re capable of reading both scientific accounts of the process of death AND the religious texts of many non-Christian religions which, at least, gives you a pretty good understanding. I think it’s kind of selfish, anthropological lay, to presume that any one religion (or sect of a religion) got it “right.”

        • scientific reports tell us what happens whilst dying, but not what happens after we die (unless one were to say their answer is “nothing”, which i accept). the world’s religions also don’t tell us what happens after death, they tell us what those who follow those faiths *BELIEVE* happens. i personally don’t think “that any one religion (or sect of a religion) got it ‘right.'”, i think they’re all equally wrong, and that nothing happens. BUT, as stated above, that is a logical estimation of what awaits us. i don’t fear hellfire or some sort of endless karmic cycle of suffering, i fear the uncertainty, and that is a much less rational fear, therefore difficult to explain in a pat way.

  2. Pingback: Podcast Episode 14: Prohibitchin’ | add it up

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