March 13, 1981

Funeral Music

JAMA. 1981;245(10):1067. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03310350051028

My interest in funeral music dates from an experience with what is not generally considered to be a terribly gloomy musical, namely, Oklahoma! I was 7 years old and for some reason was deeply affected by the song Poor Judd Is Dead. I would lie underneath our old cabinet-style record player for hours with the song playing and pretend that I was Judd Fry. I must have been having a little trouble with the concept of death. The melodic chords conveyed such pathos that they gave me the cosmic willies. I was embarrassed some years later when I realized that the song was actually a cruel joke. As a result of the experience, I developed a childish theory that most aesthetic experiences are based on idiosyncratic misinterpretation of an artist's intent. The theory continues to have merit.

In the ninth grade, I recall that I fantasized being buried to the